A few weeks ago we released our first set of results to aid readers in deciding what CPU they may want for a new single or multi-GPU build.  Today we add in some results for the top end Haswell CPU, the i7-4770K.

As you may have gathered from our initial Haswell coverage, we have had access to the processors for a couple of weeks now, and in that time we have had the opportunity to run through our gaming CPU tests as far as the motherboards we have had access to allows.  We have had a variety of PCIe combinations (up to x8/x4/x4 including x8/x8+x1 and x8/x8+x4) worth testing to make sure you aim for the multi-GPU motherboard that fits best.  We have also had a small amount of time to test a few more CPUs (Q9400, E6550) to fill out the roster a little.

This Update

In order to keep consistency, I want to this article to contain all the information we had in the previous article rather than just reference back – I personally find the measure of applying statistics to the data we obtain (and how we obtain it) very important.  The new CPUs will be highlighted, and any adjustments to our conclusions will also be published.  I also want to answer some of the questions raised from our last Gaming CPU article.

Where to Begin?

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 a work in progress.  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: Metro2033, 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, Dirt3 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 keeping 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.

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.  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 a 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 numbers of multi-GPU users is actually quite small globally, the enthusiast markets are clearly geared for it.  We get motherboards with support for 4 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 height 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 Core2Duo 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.  Chiefly of which is one 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 when booting a PC and 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 4 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 4 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.

Reporting the Minimum FPS

A lot of readers have noted in the past that they would like to see minimum FPS values.  The minimum FPS is a good measure to the point to for the sake of ‘the worst gameplay experience’, but even with our testing, it would be an effort to report it.  I know a lot of websites do report minimum FPS, but it is important to realize that:

In a test that places AI in the center of the picture, it can be difficult to remain consistent.  Take for example a run of Dirt 3 – this runs a standard race with several AI cars in which anything can happen.  If in one of the runs there is a big six-car crash, lots of elements will be going on, resulting in a severe dip in FPS.  In this run I get a minimum 6 FPS, whereas in others I get a minimum ~40 FPS.  Which is the right number to report?  Technically it would be 6 FPS, but then for any CPU that did not have a big crash pile-up, it would look better when theoretically it has not been put to the test.

If I had the time to run 100 tests of each benchmark, I would happily provide histograms of data representing how often the minimum FPS value fluctuated between runs.  But that just is not possible when finding a balance between complete testing and releasing results for you all to see.

While I admit that the time-demo benchmarks that are not AI dependent as such will have a more regular minimum FPS, the average FPS result allows the consistency of the run to be petered out.  Ideally perhaps we should be reporting the standard deviation (which would help eliminate those stray ultra-low FPS values), but then that brings its own cavalcade of issues whether the run is mainly higher than average or lower than average, and will most likely not be a regular distribution but a skewed distribution.

FCAT Testing

While FCAT is a great way to test frame rates, it needs to be set up accordingly and getting data is not a simple run and gun for benchmark results as one would like – even more complicated in terms of data retrieval and analysis than FRAPS, which personally I tend not to touch with a barge pole.  While I understand the merits of such a system, it would be ideal if a benchmark mode used FCAT in its own overlay to report data.

Why Test at 1440p?  Most Gamers play at 1080p!

Obviously one resolution is not a catch all situation.  There will be users on the cheapest 1080p screen money can buy, and those using tri-monitor setups who want peak performance.  Having a multi-GPU test at 1080p is a little strange, personally, and ideally for those high end setups you really need to be pushing the pixels.  While 1440p is not the de-facto standard, it provides an ideal mid-point in analysis.  Take for example the Steam survey:

What we see is 30.73% of gamers running at 1080p, but 4.16% of gamers are above 1080p.  If that applies to all of the 4.6 million gamers currently on steam, we are talking about ~200,000 individuals with setups bigger than 1080p playing games on Steam right now, who may or may not have to run at a lower resolution to get frame rates.

So 1080p is still the mainstay for gamers at large, but there is movement afoot to multi-monitor and higher resolution monitors.  As a random point of data, personally my gaming rig does have a 1080p screen, but that is only because my two 1440p Korean panels are used for AnandTech review testing, such as this article.

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 in order to put three PCIe slots onto a motherboard.  The majority of sub-$250 motherboards will use three PCIe slots in an 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 at 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 – 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

CPUs, GPUs, Motherboards, and Memory
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  • ninjaquick - Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - link

    "If you were buying new, the obvious answer would be looking at an i5-3570K on Ivy Bridge rather than the 2500K"

    Ian basically wanted to get a relatively broad test suite, at as many performance points as possible. Haswell, however, is really quite a bit quicker. More than anything, this article is an introduction to how they are going to be testing moving forward, as well as a list of recommendations for different budgets.
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - link

    2 year old mid range tech is competitive with, and cheaper, than haswell.

    Hence anandtech's recommendation.

    The best thing about haswell is the motherboards, which are damn nice.
  • TheJian - Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - link

    This is incorrect. It is only competitive when you TAP out the gpu by forcing them into situations they can't handle. If you drop the res to 1080p suddenly the CPU is VERY important and they part like the red sea.

    This is another attempt at covering for AMD and trying to help them sell products (you can judge whether it's intentional or not on your own). When no single card can handle the resolutions being forced on them (1440p) you end up with ALL cpu's looking like they're fine. This is just a case of every cpu saying hurry up mr. vid card I'm waiting (or we're all waiting). Lower the res to where they can handle it and cpus start to show their colors. If this article was written with 1080p being the focus (as even his own survey shows 96% of us use it OR lower, and adding in 1920x1200 you end up with 98.75%!!) you would see how badly AMD is doing vs Intel since the video cards would NOT be brick walled screaming under the load.

    An example of what happens when you put the vid card at 1080p where cpu's can show their colors.
    "At this point, it's pretty clear that Neverwinter needs a pretty quick processor if you want the performance of a reasonably-fast graphics card to shine through. At 1920x1080, it doesn't matter if you have a Radeon HD 7790, GeForce GTX 650 Ti, Radeon HD 7970, or GeForce GTX 680 if you're only using a mid-range Core i5 processor. All of those cards are limited by our CPU, even though it offers four cores and a pretty quick clock rate."

    It's not just Civ5. I could point out how inaccurate the suggestions in this 1440p article are all day. Just start looking up cpu articles on other web sites and check the 1080p data. Most cpu articles show using a top card (7970 or 680 etc) so you get to see the TRUTH. The CPU is important in almost EVERY game, unless you shoot the resolution up so high they all score the same because your video card can't handle the job (thus making ANY cpu spend all day waiting on the vid card).

    I challenge anandtech to rerun the same suite, same chips at 1080p and prove I'm wrong. I DARE YOU.

    More evidence of what happens when gpu is NOT tapped out. Look at how Intel is KILLING AMD at hardocp. Even if you say "but eventually I'll up my res and spend $600 on a 1440p monitor", you have to understand that as you get better gpu's that can handle that res, you'll hate the fact you chose AMD for a cpu as it will AGAIN become the limiter.
    "Lost Planet is still used here at HardOCP because it is one of the few gaming engines that will reach fully into our 8C/8T processors. Here we see Vishera pull off its biggest victory yet when compared to Zambezi, but still lagging behind 4 less cores from Intel."

    "Again we see a new twist on the engine above, and it too will reach into our 8C/8T. While not as pronounced as Lost Planet, Lost Planet 2 engine shows off the Vishera processors advancements, yet it still trails Intel's technology by a wide margin."

    "The STALKER engine shows almost as big an increase as we saw above, yet with Intel still dealing a crippling gaming blow to AMD's newest architecture."
    Yeah, a 65% faster Intel is a LOT right? Understand if you go AMD now, once you buy a card (20nm maxwell etc? 14nm eventually in 3yrs?) you will CRY over your cpu limiting you at even 1440p. Note the video card Hardocp use for testing was ONLY a GTX 470. That's old junk, he could now run with 7970ghz or 780gtx and up the res to 1080p and show the same results. AMD would get a shellacking.

    Here, techreport did it in 1080p. 20% lower for A10-5800 than 4770K in crysis 3. It gets worse with farcry 3 etc. In Far Cry 3 i4770k scored 96fps at 1080p, yet AMD's A10-5800 scored a measly 68. OUCH. So roughly 30% slower in this game. HOLY COW man check out Tomb Raider...Intel 126fps! AMD A10-5800 68fps! Does Anandtech still say this is a good cpu to go with? At the rest 98.75% of us run at YOU ARE WRONG. That's almost 2x faster in tomb raider at 1080p! Metro last light INtel 93fps, vs, AMD A10-5800 51fps again almost TWO TIMES faster!

    From Ian's conclusion page here:
    "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 do not 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 feel the same in the OS as an equivalent Intel CPU."

    He's not even talking the A10-5800 that got SMASHED at techreport as shown in the link. Note they only used a RAdeon 7950. A 7970ghz or GTX 780 would be even less taxed and show even larger CPU separations. I hope people are getting the point here. Anandtech is MISLEADING you at best by showing a resolution higher than 98.75% of us are using and tapping out the single gpu. I could post a dozen other cpu reviews showing the same results. Don't walk, RUN away from AMD if you are a gamer today (or tomorrow). Haswell boards are supposed to take a broadwell chip also, even more ammo to run from AMD.

    Ian is recommending a cpu that is lower than the one I show getting KILLED here. Games might not even be playable as the A10-5800 was hitting 50fps AVG on some things. What would you hit with a lower cpu avg, and worse what would the mins be? Unplayable? Get a better CPU. You've been warned.
  • haukionkannel - Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - link

    Hmm... If the game is fast enough 1440p then it is fast enough for 1080p... We are talking about serious players. Who on earth would buy 7970 or 580 for gaming in 1080p? That is serious overkill...
    We all know that Intel will run faster if we use 720p, just because it is faster CPU than AMD, nothing new in there since the era of Pentium4 and Athlon2. What this articles telss is that if you want to play games with some serious GPU power, you can save money buy using AMD CPU when using single or even in some cases double GPU. If you go beyond that the CPU becomes a bottleneck.
  • TheJian - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    The killing happened at 1080p also which is what techreport showed. Since 98.75% of us run 1920x1200 or below, I'm thinking that is pretty important data.

    The second you put in more than one card the cpus separate even at 1440p. Meaning, next years SINGLE card or the one after will AGAIN separate the cpus as that single card will be able to wait on the CPU as the bottleneck goes back to cpu. Putting that aside, hardocp showed even the mighty titan at $1000 had stuff turned of at 1080p. So you are incorrect. Is it serious overkill if hardocp is turning stuff off for a smooth game experience? 7970/GTX680 had to turn off even more stuff in the 780GTX review (titan and 780gtx mostly had the same stuff on, but the 7970ghz and 680gtx they compared to turned off quite a bit to remain above 30fps).

    I'm a serious player, and I can't run 1920x1200 with my radeon 5850 which was $300 when I bought it. I'm hoping maxwell will get me 30fps with EVERYTHING on in a few games at 1440p (I'm planning on buying a 27 or 30in at some point) and for the ones that don't I'll play them on my Dell 24 as I do now. But the current cards (without spending a grand and even that don't work) in single format still have trouble with 1080p as hardocp etc has shown. I want my next card to at least play EVERY game at 1920x1200 on my dell, and hope for a good portion on the next monitor purchase. With the 5850 I run a lot of games on my 22in at 1680x1050 to enable everything. I don't like turning stuff down or off, as that isn't how the dev intended me to play their game right?

    Apparently you think all 7970 and 580 owners are all running 1440p and up? Ridiculous. The steam survey says you are woefully incorrect. 98.75% of us are all running 1920x1200 or below and a TON of us have 7970, 680, 580 etc etc (not me yet) and enjoying the fact that they NEVER turn stuff down (well, apparently you still do on some games...see the point?). Only DUAL card owners are running above as the steam survey shows, go there and check out the breakdown. You can see the population (even as small as that 1% is...LOL) has TWO cards running above 1920x1200. So you are categorically incorrect or steam's users change all their resolutions down just to fake a survey?...ROFL. Ok. Whatever. You expect me to believe they get done with the survey and jack it up for UNDER 30fps gameplay? Ok...

    Even here, at 1440p for instance, metro only ran 34fps (and last light is more taxing than 2033). How low do you think the minimums are when you're only doing 34fps AVERAGE? UNPLAYABLE. I can pull anandtech quotes that say you'd really like 60fps to NEVER dip below 30fps minimum. In that they are actually correct and other sites agree...
    "Frames per second Gameplay
    <30 FPS very limited gameplay
    30-40 FPS average yet very playable
    40-60 FPS good gameplay
    >60 FPS best possible gameplay

    So if a graphics card barely manages less than 30 FPS, then the game is not very playable, we want to avoid that at all cost.
    With 30 FPS up-to roughly 40 FPS you'll be very able to play the game with perhaps a tiny stutter at certain graphically intensive parts. Overall a very enjoyable experience. Match the best possible resolution to this result and you'll have the best possible rendering quality versus resolution, hey you want both of them to be as high as possible.
    When a graphics card is doing 60 FPS on average or higher then you can rest assured that the game will likely play extremely smoothly at every point in the game, turn on every possible in-game IQ setting."

    So as the single 7970 (assuming ghz edition here in this 1440p article) can barely hit 34fps, by guru3d's definition it's going to STUTTER. Right? You can check max/avg/min everywhere and you'll see there is a HUGE diff between min and avg. Thus the 60fps point is assumed good to ensure above 30 min and no stutter (I'd argue higher depending on the game, mulitplayer etc as you can tank when tons of crap is going on). Guru3d puts that in EVERY gpu article.

    The single 580 in this article can't even hit 24fps and that is AN AVERAGE. So unplayable totally, thus making the whole point moot right? You're going to drop to 1080p just to hit 30fps and you say this and a 7970 is overkill for 1080p? Even this FLAWED article here proves you WRONG.

    Sleeping dogs right here in this review on a SINGLE 7970 UNDER 30fps AVERAGE. What planet are you playing on? If you are hitting 28.2fps avg your gameplay SUCKS!

    Bioshock infinite 31fps on GTX 580...Umm, mins are going to stutter at 1440p right? Even the 680 only gets 37fps...You'll need to turn both down for anything fluid maxed out. Same res for Crysis 3 shows even the Titan only hitting 32fps and with DETAILS DOWN. So mins will stutter right? MSAA is low, you have two more levels above this which would put it into single digits for mins a lot. Even this low on msaa the 580 never gets above 22fps avg...LOL. You want to rethink your comments yet? The 580's avg was 18 FPS! 1440p is NOT for a SINGLE 580...LOL. Only 25fps for 7970...LOL. NOT PLAYABLE on your 7970ghz either. Clearly this game is 1080p huh? Look how much time in the graph 7970ghz spends BELOW 20fps at 1440p. Serious gamers play at 1080p unless they have two cards. FAR CRY 3, same story. 7970ghz is 29fps...ROFL. The 580 scores 21fps...You go right ahead and try to play these games at 1440p. Welcome to the stutterfest my friend.
    "GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition nearly track together, dipping into the mid-20 FPS range."
    Yeah, Far Cry will be good at 20fps.

    Hitman Absolution has to disable MSAA totally...LOL. Even then 580 only hits 40fps avg.

    Note the tomb raider comment at 1440p:
    "The GeForce GTX 770 bests Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680, but neither card is really fluid enough to call the Ultimate Quality preset smooth."
    So 36fps and 39fps avg for those two is NOT SMOOTH. 770 dropped to 20fps for a while.

    A titan isn't even serious overkill for 1080p. It's just good enough and for hardocp a game or two had to be turned down even on it at 1080p! The data doesn't lie. Single cards are for 1080p. How many games do I have to show you dipping into the 20's before you get it? Batman AC barely hits 30's avg on 7970ghz with 8xmsaa and you have to turn physx off (not nv physx, phsyx period). Check tom's charts for gpus.

    In hardocp's review of 770gtx 1080p was barely playable with 680gtx and everything on. Upping to 2560x1600 caused nearly every card to need tessellation down and physx off in Metro Last Light. 31fps min on 770 with SSAA OFF and Physx OFF!
    You must like turning stuff off. I don't think you're a serious gamer until you turn everything on and expect it to run there. NO SACRIFICING quality! Are we done yet? If this article really tells you to pair expensive gpus ($400-1000) with a cheapo $115 AMD cpu then they are clearly misleading you. It looks like is exactly what they got you to believe. Never mind your double gpu comment paired with the same crap cpu adding to the ridiculous claims here already.
  • Calinou__ - Friday, June 7, 2013 - link

    "Serious gamers play at 1080p unless they have two cards."

    Fun fact 2: there are properly coded games out there which will run fine in 2560×1440 on mid-high end cards.
  • TheJian - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    No argument there. My point wasn't that you can't find a game to run at 1440p ok. I could cite many, though I think most wouldn't be maxed out doing it on mid cards and surely aren't what most consider graphically intensive. But there are FAR too many that don't run there without turning lots of stuff off as many sites I linked to show. Also 98.75% of us don't even have monitors that go above 1920x1200 (I can't see many running NON-Native but it's possible), so not quite sure fun fact2 matters much so my statement is still correct for nearly 99% of the world right? :) There are probably a few people in here who care what the top speed of a Veyron SS is (maybe they can afford one, 258mph I think), but for the vast majority of us, we couldn't care less about it since we'll never buy a car over 100K. I probably could have said 50K and still be right for most.

    Your statement kind of implies coders are lazy :) Not going to argue that point either...LOL. Not all coders are lazy mind you...But with so much power on pc's it's probably hard not to be lazy occasionally, not to mention they have the ability to patch them to death afterwards. I can handle 1-2 patches but if you need 5 just to get it to run properly after launch on most hardware (unless adding features/play balancing etc like a skyrim type game etc) maybe you should have kept it in house for another month or two of QA :) Just a thought...
  • Sabresiberian - Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - link

    So, you want an article specifically written for gaming at 2560x1440 to do the testing at 1920x1080?

    Your rant starts from that low point and goes downhill from there.
  • TheJian - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    You completely missed the point. The article is testing for .87% of the market. That is less than one percent. This article will be nice to reprint in 2-3yrs...Then it may actually be relevant. THAT is the point. I think it's a pretty HIGH point, not low, and that fact that you choose to ignore the data in my post doesn't make it any less valid or real. Nice try though :) Come back when you have some data actually making a relevant point please.
  • Calinou__ - Friday, June 7, 2013 - link

    So, all the websites that are about Linux should shut down because Linux has ~1% market share? Nope.

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