Here we have our real gaming tests. Each of the games we chose use multiple cores and GPUs. They are able to stress the system through use of good AI. Both have decent positional audio that adds impact to the sound subsystem of the board. We ran each game through the level or parts listed and recorded frame per second using FRAPS. This brings the whole game into play.
*** A word on gaming as a motherboard test; ***
Despite the fact that most games are very GPU limited, we are still noticing HDD and even audio creating issues in gaming performance. Because of this you may see differences in the number of frames rendered per second between different boards. Usually the difference is very small, but occasionally, because of bad tracing, poor memory or HDD performance, this difference is significant. The issues are often more prevalent in older versions of DirectX but can still pop up in DX10 and 11.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (DX9)
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Timedemo or Level Used: First combat until the school is cleared
Developer Homepage: http://www.infinityward.com
Product Homepage: http://modernwarfare2.infinityward.com
Most of you know about the game Modern Warfare 2, it caused quite a bit of controversy in the latter half of 2009. The game is a first person shooter with a heavy combat emphasis. It follows the events in the first Modern Warfare very closely and brings back several characters from the original.
As with most games in the Call of Duty franchise, it features a heavy AI load. This is not because of a complex AI routine, but more due to the sheer number of enemies in any given combat situation. It is also our single DX9 based game in our testing suite. Settings are shown below.
Ok, here we have opposing results; for stock performance the Sabertooth does quite well with minimum frame rates over the capabilities of LCDs (60Hz). From there you have nothing but that extra feeling of smoothness that comes from never starving the display for frames. However, when we pushed the system something happened and our testing dropped a whopping 15 FPS. We still come out over the 60 mark, but it is still quite odd to see this level of drop.
Far Cry 2 (DX10)
Far Cry 2 is a large sandbox style game. There are no levels here so as you move about the island you are on you do not have to wait for the "loading" sign to go away. It is mission driven so each mission is what you would normally think of as the next "Level".
In the game you take the role of a mercenary who has been sent to kill the Jackal; unfortunately your malaria kicks in and you end up being found by him. Long story short, you become the errand boy for a local militia leader and run all over the island doing his bidding. Settings we used for testing are shown below.
Far Cry 2 was not as nice to the stock speed run as Modern Warfare 2 was. Here we find the Sabertooth at the bottom of the pile with a minimum of 39. Still, we have to stress that at 39FPS you are over the level in which the human eye can register individual frame changes (normally between 32-36 FPS). So while it might be technically slower than the others, you would never be able to see it.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 (DX11)
Battlefield Bad Company is another sequel and also another game "franchise". Bad Company 2 is also our DX11 Shooter game. The game follows a fictitious B company team on a mission to recover a Japanese defector. This puts you back in World War II (at least for the beginning of the game) while the multi-player game is centered on much more modern combat. For our testing we used the single player mode. Settings are shown below.
With Bad Company 2 the results are even closer with only a 7 FPS difference from top to bottom. Still, all of the boards are above the magical 32 FPS, so while the Sabertooth was up in the thick of the group, you would never know. But you can be certain that you would not have any issues with running Bad Company 2 on it.
In gaming the usual mark is the frame rate. This is the measure that people use to determine what GPU or system is better. However, understanding that once you reach the refresh rate of the monitor you are only adding to the feel of the game means that you often need to look at the rest of the gaming experience.
If you have a board that can deliver good frame rates, but has terrible load times or bad audio, you will still have a poor gaming experience. The Sabertooth manages to cover all of these bases. The HDD performance is enough that it should impede your gaming with overly long level load times.
The audio, while it will not win any awards, is more than good enough to give you a good gaming experience, even with headphones (although the volume drops off due to the lack of amplification).