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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.

The numbers really add up when you factor in the cost-per-core from AMD. An AMD FX-8350 gives you 8-cores (with some shared resources) for $165. That doesn't even net you a quad-core from Intel CPUs. The cheapest quad-core from Intel is the 3.2GHz Core i5-4460 for $180--and that quad-core Haswell CPU doesn't even have Hyper-Threading turned on. Nor can it be overclocked.

Oxide developers told me their internal testing with the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark showed 8-core AMD CPUs giving even the high-end Core i7-4770K a tough time. 

But don't take this to mean AMD's suddenly in the pole position. When I asked Oxide and Stardock officials what the ultimate CPU is for Ashes of Singularity, the choice was Intel's 8-core monster, the Core i7-5960X.

Still, this is finally some good news for AMD's CPU division, which all but the most die-hard fanboy would agree has been in third place against Intel's CPUs for years now. Intel's CPUs, to be frank, have been so good that they compete more with each other than AMD's counterparts. AMD's CPUs have failed to trounce their Intel equivalents even when they outnumber them in cores.

As a consumer, you won't be able to use Ashes of the Singularity to test DX12 performance until the game is released sometime next year--but there is one option if you want to try it sooner. Oxide and Stardock say those who want to play with the test early can buy the $50 Founder's Edition of the game, which will grant early access to the benchmark in a week or so.

But controversy!

All this would seem like a first solid step towards our first DirectX 12 test using a real game. Oxide officials said the reason they let the media demo the test first was to celebrate multi-core CPU gaming, which is finally supported in the new Windows 10-exclusive API. 

Nvidia officials didn't seem to think the test was all that, though, and in an unexpected move pretty much trashed it as a measurement tool.

"We do not believe (Ashes of Singularity) is a good indicator of overall DirectX 12 gaming performance," the company said in its guidance on using the new test as a benchmark.

Nvidia said the pre-beta benchmark has bug that affects MSAA performance, which makes it unreliable. To put an even finer point on it, the company's spokesman Brian Burke told PCWorld: "We believe there will be better examples of true DirectX 12 performance."

Translated for gamers: That's pretty much a "shots fired!" moment.

Nvidia went on to say to expect the same lead it has had over AMD's Radeon graphics card drivers in DirectX 11 to carry over to DirectX 12.


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