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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  • TheJian - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    So you're agreeing with a guy that says it's OK to HATE someone but I'm the evil person for pointing out data that is incorrect? HATE? That's not a bit strong? "We might all hate this guy (for good reason)". And people are calling ME offensive? WOW. This reminds me of the gay people who claim to be tolerant, but god forbid any person says something against them (chic-fil-a comes to mind). They want that person tarred and feathered, smear them in the media and never work again, put them out of business, call them names, cheer people who commit violence against them etc...Nice...No double standards there. Another example, Stacy Dash voting for Romney. They called a BLACK woman who spoke her mind a RACIST...ROFL. What? They tore that chick apart merely for having a very well spoken (IMHO) opinion and pretty good reasons for saying them. She didn't sound stupid (despite what anyone thinks about her opinion), but they tarred and feathered her for saying something anti-obama... :( She's a very classy chick if you ask me and they still pick on her (saw some ripping on her on roku last week - msnbc or something).

    Not sure what his reason is anyway. Did I attack you guys personally? I even let Ian himself off the hook and left the problem at the doorstep of whoever is directing these articles to be written this way. What bothers me most is all the "great article" "nice job" comments to an article that is very wrong and advocates buying a very low end AMD cpu vs. Intel and says it's going to be ok. IT WON'T and in FAR more than just CIV 5 as I showed via other hardware sites.

    What part wasn't objective? My data? The other websites giving the opposite of this site? I can't change their data, and there is nothing objective to discuss when the data is just patently wrong as proved.

    People can argue I'm not objective on my console beliefs (though backed by sales data, and I freely admit I hate them...LOL but I own an xbox360/2 ps2's - go figure - I don't want another holding my games at 1080p for 8yrs) and the new gen at xmas may sell very well (we'll know in 9-10 months if they scan sell past xmas pop), but the PC comments and data I provided are facts based on data from steampowered's survey, hardocp, toms, and techreport. I could have went with another group also with pcper, guru3d etc...but too many links and this site says your post is spam.

    If it was offensive they need thicker skin or stop writing stuff that other sites totally refute. These guys KNOW that when you drop it down to 1080p the cpu is going to SHOW rather than the gpu's shown here (which aren't as taxed at 1080p) showing any cpu can get the job done. Well yeah, any cpu but only when you push gpu's so far they beg for mercy. To me saying that stuff in the article is a LIE when they know what happens turning it down. I wouldn't be so harsh if they were just ignorant of the data, but Anandtech is NOT ignorant. They've been benchmarking the heck out of this crap for ~15 years (I think he started the year I started my 8yr PC business in '97!). I guess you can't call people out for what they're doing today without being called offensive, emotional (LOL) and not objective. I couldn't have written that post if they would have tested where 98% of us play at 1080p right?

    What are they doing here at anandtech? Why would they do this? They know what steampowered shows, I basically said the same stuff to Ryan in the 660TI article ages ago but with even MORE proof and using his own articles to prove my points. I used HIS benchmarks.

    Ask yourself why we are still waiting for the FCAT articles (now we're up to 2 or more...part 2 of the first, and 7990 data etc)? Ryan said we'd see them in a week. We are into months now.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6862/fcat-the-evolut...
    Where's part2? He still hasn't given us ONE ounce of data using it.

    "In part one of our series on FCAT, today we will be taking a high-level overview of FCAT. How it works, why it’s different from FRAPS, and why we are so excited about this tool. Meanwhile next week will see the release of part two of our series, in which we’ll dive into our FCAT results, utilizing FCAT to its full extent to look at where FCAT sees stuttering and under what conditions."

    That's from his Part1 linked above. How long do we wait?

    Just for kicks:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6910/origin-genesis-...
    "Overall anything short of 5760 with 4x MSAA fails to make a 3rd Titan worthwhile. On the other hand, you do need at least 2 Titans to handle MSAA even at 2560"

    Ok, so I need to spend $2000 on two titans to handle some MSAA at 2560 OVERALL in the tested games (heck one hits under 30fps in a game he tested at 1080p in that review). Raise your hand if you think IAN's article is correct...ROFL.

    "In three of our games, having a single GPU make almost no difference to what CPU performs the best. "

    Yeah in a res that according to Ryan's article taps out two $1000 titans...Then you're right. All cpu's are the same because the Titans are crying for some relief :)
    Their recommendation here:
    "A CPU for Single GPU Gaming: A8-5600K + Core Parking updates"

    "The A8-5600K will also overclock a little, giving a boost, and comes in at a stout $110, meaning that some of those $$$ can go towards a beefier GPU or an SSD."

    No way...So you'll buy $110 cpu and according to Ryan's article on the titan box, buy $2000 worth of titans to go with it to run at the resolution Anandtech thinks is important (2560x1440).

    How do I respond to that without being offensive? You should hear what I'm saying in my brain right now...ROFL. The sad part is people are reading reviews like this and thinking it's correct. Look at the first comments on this article "nice work" etc...Really? I don't see a bunch of HATERS on my comments anyway. Just a few who at the least 1/2 agree with what I said ;) Yourself included. Your example proves to some degree, I didn't waste my time.

    Sorry if you think my "truth" was hidden. I was attempting to make it more "in your face" for simplicity sake. Maybe I failed a bit...LOL. Can't please everyone I guess.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    Nice...What reason? I defamed a hero of yours? Are they doing you any favors by hiding reality? Can you say after reading the links the other sites are wrong? The point of the links showing the exact opposite of this site is so you JUDGE Anandtech yourselves. I really don't want one of my favorite sites to go away. I just want them to start reporting FACTS as they are without the snow.

    I don't feel I have to be politically correct all day for that. People need to get over that PC garbage and get thicker skins. We are FAR to sensitive today. It's like nobody can take a criticism these days and the person who gives it is evil...LOL.

    For the sake of your PC purchase, if you intend on buying on their advice, read the links I gave guys. I'm trying to save people from getting burned! Like me or hate me, the data does NOT lie. You just have to look at it and judge for yourself. When one cpu scores 58 vs. another at 108, there is a SERIOUS reason to pick the proper cpu (just one example from above). If you're seriously broke, I'm all for AMD at that point (great integrated with richland probably making a pretty decent experience), but if not...INTEL. But in either case I wouldn't buy EITHER now. Wait for haswell (broadwell goes in it later...important maybe) or Richland which really makes low end gaming possibly pretty fun I think (at least you can play that is). In laptops maybe Haswell with GT3e makes sense as it should get near AMD or blow by them with 128mb in there. But that's not going to desktops. Integrated on desktops from Intel is still useless IMHO and won't affect Discrete sales one bit from AMD or NV.
    Reply
  • tential - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    I don't agree with your analysis on consoles but everything else sure. Gaming for 98% of people is 1080p. That's why I laugh when people quote Titan on ANYTHING (which happens surprisingly a lot here). No one has a Titan so why even talk about such a card saying "AMD has no answer for it". Well no one even has the card anyway except for a couple of people. I agree also with the resolution thing. It makes no sense that so many reviews are catered to high resolution and mutli monitor setups.at?

    People have been wondering why NV and AMD have increased top of the line GFX cards and it's because quite simply, few people have everything needed to exploit such cards. I'd get a 7970, but I don't have a multimonitor setup or a high resolution monitor so what's the point?

    Console wise I think the WiiU was a bad for any comparison. It was an upgrade that really brought nothing extra. People who have a Wii don't care about graphics so most of the upgrades of the WiiU are meaningless to Wii owners. The new Xbox and PS4 will be much better in terms of sales.Those console gamers have been dying for a graphics boost.

    In the end though you're response explains to me GPU pricing today and why top of the line GPUs are costing more and more. A smaller percentage of people are buying them, because GPUs that are lower end, or GPUs that are older are perfectly capable of doing the tasks needed by gamers today. Maybe when monitors drop in price and more people game at higher resolutions but for now, most people do 1080p, and that's the sweet spot for most people. I know thats the ONLY resolution I ever look and care about.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Thanks...Console arguments are like ford vs. chevy right? How many people won that argument back in the day? :)

    If consoles sales after xmas pop continue for 6 months after (unlike wiiu etc that died as Kotick etc point to, wiiu off 50% says something, Vita, 3DS etc down from last revs too, software off also for all), I'll come back and say YOU sir were right :) You have my word. Of course it goes without saying, I'll be saying the exact opposite if it doesn't happen.

    Regarding why we need more power...I can show situations where 1080P brought the top end to unplayable. Hardocp just did this.
    http://hardocp.com/article/2013/03/12/crysis_3_vid...
    They had to turn some settings down even on 680 and 7970ghz and cards below this really turned stuff off (670 etc). People can say, well this or that doesn't make much difference visually, but the point is you can't have everything on without more power (maxwell/volcano should finally make everything on 1080p playable with ALL details on, no sacrifice at all in anything I'd hope).
    "Crysis 3 plays a lot better at 1080p resolution, 1920x1080. At 1080p the GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition are able to push the graphics to very high and play with the best experience possible in the game. Granted, we have to use SMAA Medium in order to achieve this. It will most likely take next generation single-GPU video cards to allow us to play at SMAA High 4X at very high at 1080p."

    Tombraider has the same issues only worse I guess. :
    http://hardocp.com/article/2013/03/20/tomb_raider_...
    "If you are interested in playing Tomb Raider the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 provided the fastest performance at 1080p, and was the only single GPU video card capable of playing with 2X SSAA at this resolution. At 2560x1600 the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire setup will provide more performance. For gaming on a budget, or at resolutions lower than 1080p, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is an excellent option."

    So the 660TI I almost bought is for LOWER than 1080p?...ROFL. OUCH. As they point out two cards for above 1080p and only the 680 survived 1080p itself, and only at 2xSSAA. I can site more examples also, but this makes the point. Even 1080p is tough for top end cards if gaming as the devs intended with all candy on is attempted. We need more power, and 20nm should give this from either company I hope. I hope I'll have enough of a reason to buy 1440p for a few games, then flop it over to my dell 1920x1200 when the new cards can't hack my 27in I plan to buy (if I do, might stick with 27in at 1080p, but I like having 2 resolutions native on the desk to play whichever my card can handle). It's comic ryan was pussing 1440p for the 660TI article, but hardocp says that card is for BELOW 1080p...LOL.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    Well, if even older dual core CPUs and the weaker AMD parts don't scale at all with a single GPU, it would seem to me like a 60$ Pentium or even a 40$ Celeron with a bit below 3GHz might make a great companion for the typical a 200$-GPU for a Full-HD Gamer. Would be interesting to add any one of those low-cost Ivy Bridge parts to the comparison to see how they keep up with their core ix counterparts. Reply
  • trajan2448 - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    As soon as I saw Crossfire I stopped reading. Reply
  • TheJian - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    One more comment on FCAT missing - From the 7990 review:
    " The end result is that we’re not going to have FCAT data for today’s launch, as there simply hasn’t been enough time to put it together. FCAT was specifically designed for multi-GPU testing so this is an ideal use case for it and we’d otherwise like to have it, but without complete results it’s not very useful. Sorry guys.

    The good news is that this means we have (and will be compiling) FCAT results for our cards based on the very latest drivers. So we’ll get to the bottom of frame pacing on the 7990, GTX 690, and more with an FCAT article later this week or early next week. So please stay tuned for that."

    So we're 3 weeks later and no review for this data STILL. Again, people realize the delay tactics here. In another week it will be a MONTH. This is on top of already waiting for FCAT part2 article I mentioned already.

    "Our goal with FCAT was to run an in-depth article about it shortly before the launch of the 7990 as a preparatory article for today’s launch. However like most ambitious goals, that hasn’t panned out."

    It's not really ambitious when EVERYBODY else is already presenting data article after article. Just keep making excuses. Take a good look at the credibility of this site here people and judge these guys yourselves. Ryan Shrout seems to be able to pump out article after article on FCAT, including his review for the 7990, Titan etc...Every article discusses it at this point. Is Ryan Shrout at PCper.com so much more effective than this huge website? Ryan's asking for donations to upgrade his camera equipment for recording podcast type stuff etc. How many people do you have working here compared to his little site? Which I love BTW. Great site, and he nearly has doubled the funding the asked for :)

    At some point I hope people start asking you guys more questions after looking at my posts pointing out stuff most just seem to miss. People will eventually JUDGE this site accordingly if you keep this stuff up. I sincerely hope this site returns to good neutral data soon. You can start with an FCAT article that makes other sites like PCper seem as small as they are.

    Are you still trying to figure out how to use it or something? Call Ryan Shrout :)
    Reply
  • bds71 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Ian: i noticed you were GPU bound a lot. doesn't this sort of defeat the test? (i think you were GPU bound more than 50% of the time). i'm curious why you didn't use eye-finity or nVidia surround to test the quad graphics setup? with that much power under the hood it's almost a necessity. anyway, i don't mean to critisize the review, i think it still had some very usefull information. i just think that the conclusion wasn't complete if you're GPU bound. note: and decreasing the graphics so that your CPU bound is unrealistic - nobody with quad graphics is going to reduce the graphics capability so their CPU bound. Reply
  • bds71 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    edit: i just read through (most) of the comments above. and, while 98% (doubtful, but OK) may play on a single 1080p screen, the fact is that high end graphics are a waste of money for a single 1080p monitor. and, while some games (like Skyrim and Civ V) use a lot of processor, that type of scenario is not indicative of most games. note: also, most of those 98% single screen 1080p users also probably DON'T have a top-of-the-line (ie: 980 or 7970, much less titan, 690 or 7990) graphics card. they probably have a 200-$300 graphics card and a 100-$250 CPU (ie: mainstream). nor do any of those less than top-of-the-line *need* anything more than single 1080p monitor and a mid-range CPU (of which the AMD or Intel variety will do just fine for 98% of those 98% with a single monitor) from my point of view this article set out to find out how much the CPU is used in gaming. does it make sense then to put a limit on the graphics capabilities? of course not. so you go with the high end (top-of-the-line) graphics solution. but in the end, the graphics capabilities was still limited by the screen resolution - you couldn't really see what the GPU's were/are capable of because they couldn't really stretch their leggs (and, in turn, the CPUs never stretched to their limits to feed such a request).

    i participate in F@H. as such i also use my GPU's. i've noticed that (depending on the work unit) the GPU's can take as much as 20% of the CPU to keep them fed. is gaming really that much different? the CPU is needed to feed the GPU, and to do those functions that can not be done on the GPU. for folding, it doesn't matter how fast something gets done - so a faster CPU isn't imperative. but, for gaming, the speed of CPU and its ability to keep relevant data going to the GPU does matter. when the CPU can't keep up with the GPU you get slow minimum frame rates and a general "slow" feeling from the game. so, yes, i agree minimum frame rates are important when determining what CPU to use when feeding a high end graphics solution (more so when using more than a single GPU solution). but you still have to let the GPU's stretch thier legs to see how much of the CPU is being used - and that will determine if a CPU is good or not (min frame rates and CPU usage with high end graphics at appropriate resolutions)
    Reply
  • yhselp - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Wow, the sheer amount of 'content' that Jian guy is producing is amazing. You could probably publish a few books worth of comments by now. Is it really necessary to hit everybody up with a 1000-word reply?

    What I don't get is why you actually do this. You don't agree with what's been tested and how the data has been interpreted; okay, that is your right. And, yes, some of the conclusions drawn might be controversial; but what's your problem? Why don't you just voice your opinion once and leave it be? What are you doing here - are you some sort of freedom fighter for objective data on the internet?

    You complain about how AnandTech are doing it wrong and claim that your own observations are objective and valid. From your point of view they might be, but what you are forgetting is that testing hardware is so vast a field, with so many variables that it's impossible to scientifically claim that ANY conclusion is objective, since the very essence of what you're dealing with precludes that. Everything (in hardware testing) is subjective - live with that truth.

    It's not about having "tough skin", but having manners and being civilized. You can't expect people to listen to you and take you seriously if you're being rude even if your arguments are valid. Try a more gentle approach - I guarantee your message, whatever it might be, will travel further.

    Remember, this is not an article about choosing a CPU for 1080p gaming, also, it's not complete. The provides information for people to interpret their own way. Yes, it draws conclusions at the end that I too think are best left unsaid; but why can't you just look past them? What is your problem? What are you trying to change here? If you don't like AnandTech so much, why don't you just... leave?
    Reply

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