One question when building or upgrading a gaming system is of which CPU to choose - does it matter if I have a quad core from Intel, or a quad module from AMD? Perhaps something simpler will do the trick, and I can spend the difference on the GPU. What if you are running a multi-GPU setup, does the CPU have a bigger effect? This was the question I set out to help answer.

A few things before we start:

This set of results is by no means extensive or exhaustive. For the sake of expediency I could not select 10 different gaming titles across a variety of engines and then test them in seven or more different configurations per game and per CPU, nor could I test every different CPU made. As a result, on the gaming side, I limited myself to one resolution, one set of settings, and four very regular testing titles that offer time demos: Metro 2033, DiRT 3, Civilization V and Sleeping Dogs. This is obviously not Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Crysis 3 or Far Cry 3, which may be more relevant in your set up.

The arguments for and against time demo testing as well as the arguments for taking FRAPs values of sequences are well documented (time demos might not be representative vs. consistency and realism of FRAPsing a repeated run across a field), however all of our tests can be run on home systems to get a feel for how a system performs. Below is a discussion regarding AI, one of the common usages for a CPU in a game, and how it affects the system. Out of our benchmarks, DiRT 3 plays a game, including AI in the result, and the turn-based Civilization V has no concern for direct AI except for time between turns.

All this combines in with my unique position as the motherboard senior editor here at AnandTech – the position gives me access to a wide variety of motherboard chipsets, lane allocations and a fair number of CPUs. GPUs are not necessarily in a large supply in my side of the reviewing area, but both ASUS and ECS have provided my test beds with HD7970s and GTX580s respectively, such that they have been quintessential in being part of my test bed for 12 and 21 months. The task set before me in this review would be almost a career in itself if we were to expand to more GPUs and more multi-GPU setups. Thus testing up to 4x 7970 and up to 2x GTX 580 is a more than reasonable place to start.

Where It All Began

The most important point to note is how this set of results came to pass. Several months ago I came across a few sets of testing by other review websites that floored me – simple CPU comparison tests for gaming which were spreading like wildfire among the forums, and some results contradicted the general prevailing opinion on the topic. These results were pulling all sorts of lurking forum users out of the woodwork to have an opinion, and being the well-adjusted scientist I am, I set forth to confirm the results were, at least in part, valid.

What came next was a shock – some had no real explanation of the hardware setups. While the basic overview of hardware was supplied, there was no run down of settings used, and no attempt to justify the findings which had obviously caused quite a stir. Needless to say, I felt stunned that the lack of verbose testing, as well as both the results and a lot of the conversation, particularly from avid fans of Team Blue and Team Red, that followed. I planned to right this wrong the best way I know how – with science!

The other reason for pulling together the results in this article is perhaps the one I originally started with – the need to update drivers every so often. Since Ivy Bridge release, I have been using Catalyst 12.3 and GeForce 296.10 WHQL on my test beds. This causes problems – older drivers are not optimized, readers sometimes complain if older drivers are used, and new games cannot be added to the test bed because they might not scale correctly due to the older drivers. So while there are some reviews on the internet that update drivers between testing and keep the old numbers (leading to skewed results), actually taking time out to retest a number of platforms for more data points solely on the new drivers is actually a large undertaking.

For example, testing new drivers over six platforms (CPU/motherboard combinations) would mean: six platforms, four games, seven different GPU configurations, ~10 minutes per test plus 2+ hours to set up each platform and install a new OS/drivers/set up benchmarks. That makes 40+ hours of solid testing (if all goes without a second lost here or there), or just over a full working week – more if I also test the CPU performance for a computational benchmark update, or exponentially more if I include multiple resolutions and setting options.

If this is all that is worked on that week, it means no new content – so it happens rarely, perhaps once a year or before a big launch. This time was now, and when I started this testing, I was moving to Catalyst 13.1 and GeForce 310.90, which by the time this review goes live will have already been superseded! In reality, I have been slowly working on this data set for the best part of 10 weeks while also reviewing other hardware (but keeping those reviews with consistent driver comparisons). In total this review encapsulates 24 different CPU setups, with up to 6 different GPU configurations, meaning 430 data points, 1375 benchmark loops and over 51 hours in just GPU benchmarks alone, without considering setup time or driver issues.

What Does the CPU do in a Game?

A lot of game developers use customized versions of game engines, such as the EGO engine for driving games or the Unreal engine. The engine provides the underpinnings for a lot of the code, and the optimizations therein. The engine also decides what in the game gets offloaded onto the GPU.

Imagine the code that makes up the game as a linear sequence of events. In order to go through the game quickly, we need the fastest single core processor available. Of course, games are not like this – lots of the game can be parallelized, such as vector calculations for graphics. These were of course the first to be moved from CPU to the GPU. Over time, more parts of the code have made the move – physics and compute being the main features in recent months and years.

The GPU is good at independent, simple tasks – calculating which color is in which pixel is an example of this, along with addition processing and post-processing features (FXAA and so on). If a task is linear, it lives on the CPU, such as loading textures into memory or negotiating which data to transfer between the memory and the GPUs. The CPU also takes control of independent complex tasks, as the CPU is the one that can make complicated logic analysis.

Very few parts of a game come under this heading of ‘independent yet complex’. Anything suitable for the GPU but not ported over will be here, and the big one usually quoted is artificial intelligence. Deciding where an NPC is going to run, shoot or fly could be considered a very complex set of calculations, ideal for fast CPUs. The counter argument is that games have had complex AI for years – the number of times I personally was destroyed by a Dark Sim on Perfect Dark on the N64 is testament to either my uselessness or the fact that complex AI can be configured with not much CPU power. AI is unlikely to be a limiting factor in frame rates due to CPU usage.

What is most likely going to be the limiting factor is how the CPU can manage data. As engines evolve, they try and use data between the CPU, memory and GPUs less – if textures can be kept on the GPU, then they will stay there. But some engines are not as perfect as we would like them to be, resulting in the CPU as the limiting factor. As CPU performance increases, and those that write the engines in which games are made understand the ecosystem, CPU performance should be less of an issue over time. All roads point towards the PS4 of course, and its 8-core Jaguar processor. Is this all that is needed for a single GPU, albeit in an HSA environment?

Multi-GPU Testing

Another angle I wanted to test beyond most other websites is multi-GPU. There is content online dealing mostly with single GPU setups, with a few for dual GPU. Even though the number of multi-GPU users is actually quite small globally, the enthusiast markets are clearly geared for it. We get motherboards with support for four GPU cards; we have cases that will support a dual processor board as well as four double-height GPUs. Then there are GPUs being released with two sets of silicon on a PCB, wrapped in a double or triple width cooler.

More often than not on a forum, people will ask ‘what GPU for $xxx’ and some of the suggestions will be towards two GPUs at half the budget, as it commonly offers more performance than a single GPU if the game and the drivers all work smoothly (at the cost of power, heat, and bad driver scenarios). The ecosystem supports multi-GPU setups, so I felt it right to test at least one four-way setup. Although with great power comes great responsibility – there was no point testing 4-way 7970s on 1080p.

Typically in this price bracket, users will go for multi-monitor setups, along the lines of 5760x1080, or big monitor setups like 1440p, 1600p, or the mega-rich might try 4K. Ultimately the high end enthusiast, with cash to burn, is going to gravitate towards 4K, and I cannot wait until that becomes a reality. So for a median point in all of this, we are testing at 1440p and maximum settings. This will put the strain on our Core 2 Duo and Celeron G465 samples, but should be easy pickings for our multi-processor, multi-GPU beast of a machine.

A Minor Problem In Interpreting Results

Throughout testing for this review, there were clearly going to be some issues to consider. Chief of these is the question of consistency and in particular if something like Metro 2033 decides to have an ‘easy’ run which reports +3% higher than normal. For that specific example we get around this by double testing, as the easy run typically appears in the first batch – so we run two or three batches of four and disregard the first batch.

The other, perhaps bigger, issue is interpreting results. If I get 40.0 FPS on a Phenom II X4-960T, 40.1 FPS on an i5-2500K, and then 40.2 FPS on a Phenom II X2-555 BE, does that make the results invalid? The important points to recognize here are statistics and system state.

System State: We have all had times booting a PC when it feels sluggish, but this sluggish behavior disappears on reboot. The same thing can occur with testing, and usually happens as a result of bad initialization or a bad cache optimization routine at boot time. As a result, we try and spot these circumstances and re-run. With more time we would take 100 different measurements of each benchmark, with reboots, and cross out the outliers. Time constraints outside of academia unfortunately do not give us this opportunity.

Statistics: System state aside, frame rate values will often fluctuate around an average. This will mean (depending on the benchmark) that the result could be +/- a few percentage points on each run. So what happens if you have a run of four time demos, and each of them are +2% above the ‘average’ FPS? From the outside, as you will not know the true average, you cannot say if it is valid as the data set is extremely small. If we take more runs, we can find the variance (the technical version of the term), the standard deviation, and perhaps represent the mean, median and mode of a set of results.

As always, the main constraint in articles like these is time – the quicker to publish, the less testing, the larger the error bars and the higher likelihood that some results are going to be skewed because it just so happened to be a good/bad benchmark run. So the example given above of the X2-555 getting a better result is down to interpretation – each result might be +/- 0.5 FPS on average, and because they are all pretty similar we are actually more GPU limited. So it is more whether the GPU has a good/bad run in this circumstance.

For this example, I batched 100 runs of my common WinRAR test in motherboard testing, on an i5-2500K CPU with a Maximus V Formula. Results varied between 71 seconds and 74 seconds, with a large gravitation towards the lower end. To represent this statistically, we normally use a histogram, which separates the results up into ‘bins’ (e.g. 71.00 seconds to 71.25 seconds) of how accurate the final result has to be. Here is an initial representation of the data (time vs. run number), and a few histograms of that data, using a bin size of 1.00 s, 0.75s, 0.5s, 0.33s, 0.25s and 0.1s.


As we get down to the lower bin sizes, there is a pair of large groupings of results between ~71 seconds and ~ 72 seconds. The overall average/mean of the data is 71.88 due to the outliers around 74 seconds, with the median at 72.04 seconds and standard deviation of 0.660. What is the right value to report? Overall average? Peak? Average +/- standard deviation? With the results very skewed around two values, what happens if I do 1-3 runs and get ~71 seconds and none around ~72 seconds?

Statistics is clearly a large field, and without a large sample size, most numbers can be one-off results that are not truly reflective of the data. It is important to ask yourself every time you read a review with a result – how many data points went into that final value, and what analysis was performed?

For this review, we typically take four runs of our GPU tests each, except Civilization V which is extremely consistent +/- 0.1 FPS. The result reported is the average of those four values, minus any results we feel are inconsistent. At times runs have been repeated in order to confirm the value, but this will not be noted in the results.

The Bulldozer Challenge

Another purpose of this article was to tackle the problem surrounding Bulldozer and its derivatives, such as Piledriver and thus all Trinity APUs. The architecture is such that Windows 7, by default, does not accurately assign new threads to new modules – the ‘freshly installed’ stance is to double up on threads per module before moving to the next. By installing a pair of Windows Updates (which do not show in Windows Update automatically), we get an effect called ‘core parking’, which assigns the first series of threads each to its own module, giving it access to a pair of INT and an FP unit, rather than having pairs of threads competing for the prize. This affects variable threaded loading the most, particularly from 2 to 2N-2 threads where N is the number of modules in the CPU (thus 2 to 6 threads in an FX-8150). It should come as no surprise that games fall into this category, so we want to test with and without the entire core parking features in our benchmarks.

Hurdles with NVIDIA and 3-Way SLI on Ivy Bridge

Users who have been keeping up to date with motherboard options on Z77 will understand that there are several ways to put three PCIe slots onto a motherboard. The majority of sub-$250 motherboards will use three PCIe slots in a PCIe 3.0 x8/x8 + PCIe 2.0 x4 arrangement (meaning x8/x8 from the CPU and x4 from the chipset), allowing either two-way SLI or three-way Crossfire. Some motherboards will use a different Ivy Bridge lane allocation option such that we have a PCIe 3.0 x8/x4/x4 layout, giving three-way Crossfire but only two-way SLI. In fact in this arrangement, fitting the final x4 with a sound/raid card disables two-way SLI entirely.

This is due to a not widely publicized requirement of SLI – it needs at least an x8 lane allocation in order to work (either PCIe 2.0 or 3.0). Anything less than this on any GPU and you will be denied in the software. So putting in that third card will cause the second lane to drop to x4, disabling two-way SLI. There are motherboards that have a switch to change to x8/x8 + x4 in this scenario, but we are still capped at two-way SLI.

The only way to go onto 3-way or 4-way SLI is via a PLX 8747 enabled motherboard, which greatly enhances the cost of a motherboard build. This should be kept in mind when dealing with the final results.

Power Usage

It has come to my attention that even if the results were to come out X > Y, some users may call out that the better processor draws more power, which at the end of the day costs more money if you add it up over a year. For the purposes of this review, we are of the opinion that if you are gaming on a budget, then high-end GPUs such as the ones used here are not going to be within your price range.

Simple fun gaming can be had on a low resolution, limited detail system for not much money – for example at a recent LAN I went to I enjoyed 3-4 hours of TF2 fun on my AMD netbook with integrated HD3210 graphics, even though I had to install the ultra-low resolution texture pack and mods to get 30+ FPS. But I had a great time, and thus the beauty of high definition graphics of the bigger systems might not be of concern as long as the frame rates are good.

But if you want the best, you will pay for the best, even if it comes at the electricity cost. Budget gaming is fine, but this review is designed to focus on 1440p with maximum settings, which is not a budget gaming scenario.

Format Of This Article

On the next couple of pages, I will be going through in detail our hardware for this review, including CPUs, motherboards, GPUs and memory. Then we will move to the actual hardware setups, with CPU speeds and memory timings (with motherboards that actually enable XMP) detailed. Also important to note is the motherboards being used – for completeness I have tested several CPUs in two different motherboards because of GPU lane allocations.

We are living in an age where PCIe switches and additional chips are used to expand GPU lane layouts, so much so that there are up to 20 different configurations for Z77 motherboards alone. Sometimes the lane allocation makes a difference, and it can make a large difference using three or more GPUs (x8/x4/x4 vs. x16/x8/x8 with PLX), even with the added latency sometimes associated with the PCIe switches. Our testing over time will include the majority of the PCIe lane allocations on modern setups, but for our first article we are looking at the major ones we are likely to come across.

The results pages will start with a basic CPU analysis, running through my regular motherboard tests on the CPU. This should give us a feel for how much power each CPU has in dealing with mathematics and real world tests, both for integer operations (important on Bulldozer/Piledriver/Radeon) and floating point operations (where Intel/NVIDIA seem to perform best).

We will then move to each of our four gaming titles in turn, in our six different GPU configurations. As mentioned above, in GPU limited scenarios it may seem odd if a sub-$100 CPU is higher than one north of $300, but we hope to explain the tide of results as we go.

I hope this will be an ongoing project here at AnandTech, and over time we can add more CPUs, 4K testing, perhaps even show four-way Titan should that be available to us. The only danger is that on a driver or game change, it takes another chunk of time to get data! Any suggestions of course are greatly appreciated – drop me an email at ian@anandtech.com. Our next port of call will most likely be Haswell, which I am very much looking forward to testing.

CPUs, GPUs, Motherboards, and Memory
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  • CookieKrusher - Saturday, May 11, 2013 - link

    Good to know that my 2500K is still taking care of business. Now if I could just upgrade this GTX 460 this year, I'll be golden. :-) Reply
  • Tchamber - Saturday, May 11, 2013 - link

    I wonder why games are vastly more parallel on the GPU side of things than the CPU side. If a game can utilize 2048 SPs, why doesn't adding 2 or 4 more CPU cores help much? Reply
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    Because all parts of the code which can be run in parallel are already running on the GPU, and the CPU is stuck with the code that needs to be serial. Reply
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  • OwnedKThxBye - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    Love this information it was an eye opener. Great Job Ian!

    To choose a gaming CPU is a question I am asked to answer nearly on a daily basis from clients or friends in my line of work. While your concluding recommendation are spot on given the information you provided, I wouldn't often find myself giving out the same advice. The reason behind this is the future upgrade path of the PC. My apologies if this has already been pointed out in the comments as I haven’t read every one yet.

    Most people seeking a PC upgrade have just started playing a new title and have hit a wall. They are unable to play this new game at the resolution and detail they feel to be the minimum they can put up with. This wall is mostly a CPU or GPU limitation but sometimes it’s both. Of these upgrades the new graphics card is significantly less expensive than a full system upgrade, can be installed easily by most people, and doesn't leave you without a PC or any down time. On the other hand a full system upgrade is expensive, not everyone can put it all together, and often requires an OS reinstallation with data backup.

    Let’s say an average gamer (not necessarily you and me) purchases a nice new gaming rig today for whatever reason. It’s likely that within two years or so they are going to hit a wall again. At this point most people have hit the GPU limitation and are able to upgrade the graphics card and away they go again for another one to two years. After hitting this wall for the second time it’s most likely time for a full system upgrade. This process could be only two years for some of us but for others it’s going to be four to five.

    What I’m trying to point out is that we can recommend a CPU that is the cheapest while still not limiting our current GPU and get the best possible FPS per dollar right now. But if we do this it’s far more likely we are going to run into a CPU bottleneck early in the upgrade path and instead of forking out a few hundred for a new graphics card after a year or two, we might end up having to replace the both the CPU and motherboard as well.

    For this reason I could not recommend an AMD A8-5600K or an equivalent Intel CPU to be purchased with a HD7970 or GTX580 unless you plan to never upgrade your graphics card. Spend the extra $100 to $150 on a better CPU and potentially make the PC last another two years. Maybe the inclusion of some popular titles like Battlefield 3 or PlanetSide 2 would have significantly changed your concluding recommendations. The information provided gives us a good indication of where the CPU bottleneck comes into play but I think the upgrade path of the PC along with what games are being played need to be given a lot more weight for an accurate recommendation to be made. Having said that I could be totally wrong and have recommended the wrong gaming builds for years.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    I can see a lot of work but only for a future that won't exist for a good long while. You tested at a res that is too high and not showing reality today based on this dumb idea that we'll all buy $400+ monitors. This is the same crap Ryan tries to push (see the 660ti comments section, he pushed it then when they were $600 and ebay via your visa to korea...ROFLMAO - read as I destroyed his responses to me, click ALL comments so you can just CTRL-F both of us). So raise your hand if you're planning on buying a $400+ monitor, to go with an expensive $300 card only to end up at say 28fps in a game like sleeping dogs (avg...so game is unplayable as minimums would be oh I don't know 15fps?). I don't see any hands raised. So we'll be lucky if MAXWELL in Q1 (or whatever Volcanic does for AMD Q4 this year) will be playable at 1440p. Translation, we'll all buy 1920x1200 or 1080p for a while to come unless we own more than one card. Raise your hand if you have multi-gpu's. According to steampowered.com hardware survey that number (last I checked) was under 2%. You're wasting your time. Start writing for the 98% instead of the 2%. I just wasted MY time reading this crap.

    REALITY: We are all gaming at 1920x1200 or 1080p (or worse, below this). This should be the focus. This would show LARGE separations in cpus and Intel kicking the crap out of AMD and that you wouldn't want to touch that A8-5600 with a 10ft pole. Why? The 7970 would not be the limiter, or at least not every time like here. What % of the people have 3-4 gpus? Give me a break this is what you see as the future? $1200 in gpus and a $400+ monitor? You're pandering to a crowd that almost doesn't exist at all. For what? To make an AMD cpu seem buy-able?

    The data in this article will be useful in 3yrs+ when you can hit 1440p at above 30fps MINIMUM on most cards. Today however, we needed to see what cpu matters at a resolution that doesn't make a 7970 look like a piece of outdated trash. You're pretty special today if you have 7970 or up in the gpu.

    More AMD CYA if you ask me. Just like we're still waiting months for Ryan to do an FCAT testing article...LOL. We'll be waiting for that until xmas I'd guess unless AMD doesn't get the prototype driver done by then, which means we'll never see FCAT testing here...ROFL.

    Ryan has ignored TWO articles now on fcat. It didn't make the 7990 review, and part2 of fcat article never even came. Just keep delaying, your sites credibility is going down the drain while everyone else tells it like it is. AMD & their drivers currently SUCK (cpu & gpu). Their cpu's suck; hence running at a res that shows all your games can't run without multi-gpu and hit 30fps+ MINIMUM - meaning at this res they ALL require more than one gpu making cpu choice a non issue of course. Their gpu's are great but drivers suck so they give away games by the truckload to try to sell a gpu vs. exceptional NV drivers. Lets face it, the best hardware in the world sucks if drivers can't live up to the hardware. Unfortunately AMD blew all their R&D on consoles that are about to die on the vine, instead of GREAT drivers to go with a GREAT gpu.

    What do you end up with when you spend your wad on consoles instead of drivers? FCAT showing you suck, runts, stutter, enduro that lacks on notebooks (see notebookcheck 7970m article recently, it was even mentioned here oddly...LOL) and CF that is abysmal and at times showing NEGATIVE scaling for more than one gpu vs....again, NV drivers that have none of these issues. Optimus works (hence nv beats this drum repeatedly and justifiably) and so does their SLI. While AMD sucked for a year (see hardocp driver review for AMD & NV recently) NV got to sit on their butts (driver butts) waiting for AMD to finally get done with consoles and make a "Never Settle" driver that actually performed the way the cards should have OUT OF THE BOX! Thank god for never settle drivers in Nov or Nvidia wouldn't have released monthly driver enhancements from Dec-May...ROFL. People would be stuck with the same perf today as out of the box from NV (as hardocp showed they didn't improve 1fps all year until AMD caught them...well duh, no point giving out free perf when blowing your enemy away all year).

    Mark my words...AMD will be writing off R&D for consoles soon. Even activision's Kotick just said last week that consoles (for all the reasons I've said repeatedly here and at tomshardware etc) have a very tough road ahead vs. all the new ones coming out. Sales of Wiiu off 50% after xmas pop. Just one Q after debut nobody cares already! He basically said they'll be watching for the same on the next two (ps4/xbox720). When that happens no games will be made going forward for this crap as we all move to tablet/phone/ cheaper console or PC (for ultimate gaming).

    Video killed the radio star. Cheap android gaming killed the console star....LOL.
    Ouya, Steambox, Shield (pc to tv here!), wikipad, razer edge, gamepop etc...All stuff that will help kill the consoles and stuff they have never faced before. It was always the big 3, but his time big 3 with little 6-10+a billion phones & tablets chasing them and our gaming time...ROFL. The writing has been on the wall for a LONG while. As usual AMD management screws up. Wisely NV passed on a dying market and only spent 10mil on both Shield and Grid respectively...ROFL. Dirk Meyer wouldn't be doing this crap. They were idiots letting him go thinking he didn't get it. He had a mobile strategy, it just wasn't one that made their CORE products suck while creating it. Management has PIPE dreams. Dirk had REALITY dreams.

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Next-Generation-Bobby-...
    Kotick saying consoles are dead, well he almost says it...Wait and see is basically the same thing...LOL.

    "If I were gaming today on a single GPU, the A8-5600K (or non-K equivalent) would strike me as a price competitive choice for frame rates, as long as you are not a big Civilization V player and don’t mind the single threaded performance. The A8-5600K scores within a percentage point or two across the board in single GPU frame rates with both a HD7970 and a GTX580, as well as feels the same in the OS as an equivalent Intel CPU."

    AMD CYA. Total lie. Drop this crap down to 1080p and watch the Intel chips separate the men from the boys and in MORE than just CIV5. ALL games would show separation I'd guess. You must of found this out, which immediately made you up the res huh? AMD threaten the free money or something if you showed them weak or Ryan managed to run FCAT testing?...LOL.

    "We know the testing done here today looks at a niche scenario - 1440p at Max Settings using very powerful GPUs. The trend in gaming, as I see it, will be towards the higher resolution panels, and with Korean 27" monitors coming into the market, if you're ok with that sort of monitor it is a direction to take to improve your gaming experience."

    Seriously? "If you're ok with EBAYing your $400 "KOREAN" monitor this is a great way to improve your gaming at under 30fps minimum in all games...ROFL. Reworded for clarity Ian :)

    NICHE situation is correct in that first sentence...LOL. Again, start paying attention to your audience which is 98% not the NICHE 2% or less. I'm debating buying a 2nd 1920x1200 (already have 2 monitors, one dell 24 and a 22in at 1680x1050) instead of your NICHE just because of what you showed here. 1440p is going to be difficult to run ABOVE 30fps MIN for ages. I'd spend most of my gaming time on the smaller dell 24 at 1920x1200 I think. So I'm debating buying the same thing again in 27in. I want a bigger screen, but not if I can't run 30fps for another 2-3 vid card revs (maxwell rev2?). This is just like I described above with AMD's gpu. Great hardware, but worthless without drivers that work right too. A korean monitor may look great, but what is it worth if you require $600+ in vid cards to have a prayer of 30fps? I'd rather buy a titan, not upgrade the monitor and hit well above 30fps on my dell 24 at 1920x1200 all day! THAT is a great gaming experience I can live with. I can't live with a BEAUTIFUL SLIDE SHOW on a korean monitor off ebay...LOL. I realize you can get a few here in the US now, but you get the point. This is making your niche look like a regular niche is 98%...LOL. Your situation is a NICHE of the NICHE. Check steampowered survey if you don't get what I just said.
    http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/
    Less than 1% run your res tested here. That's niche of a niche right? The entire group of people above 1920x1200 is less than 2% added all up (and this is out of probably over a few hundred MILLION steam users). Just click the monitor res and it will break them out for you. You wrote an article for NOBODY to show AMD doesn't suck vs Intel? Start writing for EVERYBODY (that other 99%) and you'll be making recommendations for INTEL ONLY.

    I'm not saying anything bad against Ian here, clearly he did a lot of work. But whoever is pushing these articles instead of FCAT etc is driving this website into useless land. You guys didn't even mention NV's killer quarter (AGAIN). Profits up 29% over last year, heck everything was up even in a supposedly bad PC time (pc sales off 14%...no affect on Nvidia sales...LOL). They sell cards because their drivers don't suck and a new one comes out for every AAA title either before or on the day the game comes out! That's what AMD should be doing instead of console dev. They gave up the cpu race for consoles too! I'll be glad when this gen (not out yet) of consoles is DEAD. Maybe they will finally stop holding us back on PC's. They stuck us with 720p and dx9 for years, and they're set to stick us at 1080p for another 8yrs. They also allowed NV to not do anything to improve drivers for a year (due to AMD not catching them until Never Settle end of Nov2012). But maybe not this time...LOL. DIE CONSOLES DIE! :)

    Here's what happens when you show 1080p with details down...cpu's part like the red sea:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/neverwinter-pe...
    Look at that separation!
    "It's a little surprising that the Core i3-3220, FX-4170, and Phenom II X4 960 aren't able to manage a minimum of 30 FPS, though they come close. The dual-core chips are stuck at about 20 FPS, and the FX-8350 does a bit better with a 31 FPS floor that averages closer to 41 FPS. Only Intel's Core i5-3550 demonstrates a significantly better result, and we have to assume that higher-end Core processors are really what it takes to let AMD's single-GPU flagship achieve its best showing."

    Note only two CPU's managed above 30fps minimum! I guess you need a good cpu for more than just CIV 5 huh? You should have ran at this res with details down to show how bad AMD is currently. PEOPLE, listen to me now. Buy AMD cpus only if you're REALLY taxed in the wallet and can't afford INTEL! I love AMD, but if you value your gaming fun (meaning above 30fps) and have a decent card, for the love of god, BUY INTEL. This was a test with a SINGLE 7970ghz. AMD is light years away from Taxing their won top end gpus. But Intel isn't. The bottom to top in this article at toms was 17fps to 41fps. THAT IS HUGE! And they didn't even show top i7's. It would likely go up into the 50's or 60's then.

    Anandtech (not really blaming Ian himself here) is steering people into stupid decisions and hiding AMD's weaknesses in cpu's here, and in FCAT/gpu's with Ryan. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Tomshardware is actually becoming better than anandtech...LOL. WOW, I said that out loud. I never thought that would happen. It's 4:50am so I'm not going to grammar/spellcheck the nazi's can have fun if desired. :) Too bad I got to this article a week late.

    http://techreport.com/review/23246/inside-the-seco...
    THE REAL CPU ARTICLE YOU SHOULD READ. Note the separation from top to bottom in skyrim here is 58fps for AMD up to 108fps for Intel...See my point? Leave it to Scott Wasson (the guy who broke out the need for FCAT! along with Ryan Shrout I guess at pcper) to write the REAL article on why you don't want a slow cpu for ANY game. This is what happens at 1080P people! Note the FX8350 and 1100T are nowhere NEAR Intel in this review in ANY game tested. The phenom ii x4 980 is slow as molasses also! Note also Scott discusses frametimes which show AMD sucks. Welcome to stutter that isn't just because of the gpu...LOL.
    " All of them remain slower than the Intel chips from two generations back, though. "

    And this one sums it up best on the conclusion at techreport's article:
    "We don't like pointing out AMD's struggles any more than many of you like reading about them. It's worth reiterating here that the FX processors aren't hopeless for gaming—they just perform similarly to mid-range Intel processors from two generations ago. If you want competence, they may suffice, but if you desire glassy smooth frame delivery, you'd best look elsewhere. Our sense is that AMD desperately needs to improve its per-thread performance—through IPC gains, higher clock speeds, or both—before they'll have a truly desirable CPU to offer PC gamers. "

    Only anandtech has AMD rose colored glasses people. READ ELSEWHERE for real reporting. So AMD doesn't even offer a desirable cpu for gamers...LOL. Sad but true. Toms shows it, techreport shows it and if I had more time people, I really rip these guys apart at anandtech by posting a few more cpu tell-alls. This site keeps putting up stuff that HIDES AMD's deficiencies. I'd like to buy an AMD cpu this round, but I'd be an idiot if I did as a gamer. I7-4770k for me sir. Spend whatever you can on a haswell based system (it supposedly takes broadwell later) and wait for 20nm gpus until xmas/q1 where the real gain will come (even low end should get a huge bump). Haswell comes next month, you can wait for the FUTUREproof (if there is such a thing) socket one more month. Trust me. You'll be happy :)

    I'd put more links, but this site will see too many and call me a spammer...UGH.
    Reply
  • colonelclaw - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    You lost me at '...same crap Ryan...'

    Never a great idea to preface a wall of text with an insult.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    Well they have previously done worse to me :) I presented data in the 660ti article, called out their obvious lies even with their own data (LOTs of Ryan's own benchmarks were used to show the lies), which prompted Jarred to call me a Ahole and said my opinion was UNINFORMED ;). Ryan was claiming his article wasn't for above 1920x1080 (or 1200) but he was pitching me $600 Korean monitors (same ones mentioned here) you had to buy from EBAY and give you Visa to a nobody in Korea. Seriously? It could not even be bought on amazon from anyone with more than a SINGLE review, which I pointed out was probably the guy reviewing himself :) He had no about page on his site, no support etc, not even a phone#, just an email if memory serves. It was laughable. After taking Ryan down, Jarred attacked ME not the data.

    What do you expect a person to do after that?

    They've been snowing people for a long time with articles like this.

    Where is FCAT article part2? Where is the FCAT results from 7990? We are still waiting for both and will continue as I keep saying until AMD fixes their junk drivers and I guess gives a green-light for Ryan to finally write about FCAT for REAL. This is a pro AMD site (used to be more neutral!), I really didn't write it hoping to get love from the viewers. I just wanted the data correctly presented which other sites did with aplomb. You don't have to like me, or the data, just realize it makes sense as shown in the post via links to others saying it. NOT me.

    People who stopped at "same crap ryan" were not my intended audience ;) I can hate a person (well I never do) and still value the data in a great argument made by said person. I don't care about them as long as it makes sense. The person means nothing. As I said above I don't blame IAN really, he's just doing what he's told. I even admired the work he put in it. I just wish that work could have been dedicated to data actually useful to 98% of us instead of nobody while hiding AMD's weaknesses. AMD is not a cpu I could recommend currently at all for anything unless you are totally strapped for cash. Even then, I'd say save for another month or something and come home with Intel. I'm not really an Intel fan either...LOL. I was selling AMD back when Asus was leaving their name off their boards (fear of Intel) and putting their motherboards in WHITE boxes! Intel should have had to pay AMD 15B (they made 60+B over the years screwing AMD like this). They had the best cpu's and Intel managed to stall with nasty tactics until they caught them. I love some of Intel's chips but generally hate the company. But I'd consider myself a D-Bag for not telling people the truth and shafting their computer purchase doing it. If I personally want to help AMD and buy a chip I think is way behind, great - I've done my part (I won't just saying). But I wouldn't tell my friends to do it claiming AMD is great right now. That's not a friend. Anandtech's readers are in a sense their friends (we keep reading or they go out of business right?). Hiding things on a massive scale here is not what friends do for friends is it?

    I didn't expect any favorable comments from consoles lovers either :)
    Reply
  • OwnedKThxBye - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    We might all hate this guy (for good reason) but the words he writes regarding CPU performance in this article have a lot of truth. Reply
  • yhselp - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    Agreed. What he wrote is offending, emotional and hardly objective. However, there's a truth hidden in there somewhere. Consider the following scenario.

    Here are a few suggestions. Since most users that would spend $500 on a flagship video card and $600-$800 on a 1440p monitor and God knows how much more on the rest of the system, aren’t likely to skimp on CPU choice to save a hundred bucks, a different testing scenario might produce more useful information for the masses (regarding cheap/er CPUs for gaming).

    A more likely market for an AMD CPUs in a gaming rig would be people on a tight budget – when every buck matters and the emphasis is on getting as fast a GPU as possible. In my opinion, it’d be quite useful to test various AMD CPUs which are cheaper than an Intel quad-core; paired with a 650 Ti Boost and/or 600 and/or similarly-priced AMD video card at 1080p. Of course, this would raise yet another question – are Intel dual-cores faster than similarly-priced AMD quad-cores in this mid-range gaming scenario?

    Suggestions for other CPUs:
    Core i5-3350P – baseline Intel quad-core performance (cheapest Intel quad-core on the market)
    Pentium G2120 – should perform similarly as an i3 for gaming (costs less)
    Celeron G1610 – cheapest Intel CPU
    Reply

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