For the revision 2 of this article there is one last segment I wanted to address. CPU scaling. A lot of our readers are wondering what the difference in CPU makes in relation to overall game performance.
The generic rule is that with most modern processors, really you are good to go. Excellent are the Core i5 and Core i7 series. More troublesome however are the AMD Athlon, Phenom and yes .. even 8-core FX processors. There are only so many installations that UBISOFT will allow me to do on one key so I quickly took a handful of processors and started testing them.
We took a single GPU based graphics card, the fastest one at 1920x1200 is the GeForce GTX 680, so that GPU we'll use for the CPU scaling test. For the Core i7 processors we used the same SSD image, that means all processors are running from the same sets of drivers, patches etc.
For AMD we replicated that SSD clone (same windows 7 64-bit SP1) all patched up. For all setups we use the 310.64 GeForce driver of course. 310.70 has been released moments ago as well, it has the very same performance optimizations.
These are the results:
As you can see our good old Core i7 965 Extreme processor is on top, marginally. That one is default overclocked though at 3.75 GHz. The Core i7 2600K and 3770K are awfully close. What people do not realize is that the Nehalem technology used in the Core i7 965 is still being used in Sandy and Ivy bridge processors. Sure there have been die-shrinks and subtle nuance differences in the Turbo frequencies, but grosso modo the performance on these processors will be the same. The trick is simple, you need enough CPU horsepower to as you want the GPU bottle-necked, not the CPU.
If you wonder why ? Well, because the GPU doesn't require more processing power at a certain point. So none of these processors are a bottleneck for the GPU in any way or form.
For AMD that is a completely different picture, even the latest high-end AMD FX 8350 processor still is not in symbiosis with what the GTX 680 really needs. At 1920x1200 its already 10~15% slower then a Core i7 2600K or 3770K.
When we take the fastest Phenom II X4 processor, the 980BE, we again lose out on performance. Then a very affordable Athlon II X4 645 shows These an average of 43 FPS. These differences are significant alright.
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