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Windows 10's radical DirectX 12 graphics tech, tested: More CPU cores, more performance

Gordon Mah Ung | Aug. 18, 2015
If you're buying or building a new gaming PC for Windows 10 and DirectX 12, your priority should be as many "real" CPU cores you can afford, running at high clock speeds.

My own tests reflected that, but also show a little bit more about the CPU's impact.

After talking with Stardock and Oxide I determined the best benchmark to run would be the Heavy batch load with the graphics set to the default "low" value so as not to make the GPU the bottleneck. My rationale was not to test the GPU specifically, but to try to replicate my previous 3DMark tests to find out the impact of cores counts on gaming in DX12.

I ran the benchmark with the CPU's default clockspeed of 3.5GHz to 3.9GHz, with all CPU cores and Hyper-Threading on. I then twisted knobs in the BIOS and ran the test with fewer cores active, as well as switching Hyper-Threading on and off and turning the clock speed down to 1.7GHz. 

More cores are better, but clock speed helps too

In many ways, the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark validates my tests of five months ago: With DirectX 12, the more CPU cores, the better. But unlike that early March preview of DX12, clock speeds also seemed to help with the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark. Going from four cores at 1.7GHz to four cores at 3.9GHz gives you a nice bump from 36 fps to 51 fps.

That's very significant.

Contrast that with what happened in my earlier 3DMark DirectX 12 feature test. I simulated a Pentium G3258 with two cores and no Hyper-Threading running overclocked at 4.9GHz. The result in 3DMark was only slightly faster than when I simulated a 3.5GHz Core i3-4330 with two cores and Hyper-Threading turned on. In the synthetic 3DMark, Hyper-Threading made big contributions to performance. You can read the  original story or just peep this chart of my 3DMark testing.

Good news for AMD

In the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark, clock speeds have far more impact than they did in 3DMark's feature test, while Hyper-Threading has a minimal performance impact. Oxide developers told me the reason they suspect Hyper-Threading didn't knock it out of the ball park on their new game engine is the shared L1 cache design of Intel's CPUs. 

With Hyper-Threading a yawner and high-clock speeds a big bonus, AMD's budget-priced chips are pretty much set up as the dark horse CPU to for DirectX 12--if this single benchmark test is indicative of what we can expect to see from DirectX 12 overall, of course.

In fact, Oxide's developers said their internal testing showed AMD's APUs and CPUs having an edge since they give you more cores than Intel for the money. AMD's design also doesn't share L1 cache the way Intel's chips do. 

AMD gives you more cores for your money


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