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 Post subject: CPU benchmarks vs gaming viability (Intel/AMD)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:08 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:33 am
Posts: 3
My question regarding CPU is about Intel vs AMD (performance/price), and the relevance of certain benchmarks vs gaming.

So I'm looking to build a new PC as my current PC is almost 5 years old. As saving money is a priority for me, getting the most "bang for buck" might be my top criterion when selecting components. That's why one of my favorite tools is this site: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_value_available.html but I have begun to have doubts as to this ratio's actual relevance. The CPU I had decided to buy was the 'AMD FX-8320 Eight-Core' or '8350' because this site had shown the benchmark to be 8173/9084 (which I view to be a raw measure of power, is this correct?) This benchmark is apparently very close to certain Intel i7 CPUs (Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.40GHz score was 9426), for a much lower cost $145-$180 compared to $300. The cost is even lower than most most i5 CPUs, which have considerably lower benchmark scores. I happened to mention this in an in-game chat and almost everyone chimed in "stay away from AMD, terrible for gaming!". No one seemed to care that the benchmark was the same while the price might be even cut in half.

As far as I knew until recent anecdotes, CPU didn't even really matter for gaming, GPU did all the important stuff.
So I've tried to do some digging around and apparently this "raw power" benchmark stat has very little to do with gaming. Apparently it's all about threading, optimization, etc.

So is it really true that this AMD FX-8320 Eight-Core won't even do as well as an Intel i5?
If so, is this because the game developers focus their game optimization on Intel processors, or is it because Intel has hidden gaming powers that are not measured in a general benchmark?

When I look at the price difference for the similar benchmark scores, it seems like AMD is the obvious choice. But I will defer to the judgment of those who have more experience.

(Optional point: there seems to be a similar situation of performance/price ratio between Nvidia vs ATI/AMD, so do GPU benchmarks have more relevance or possibly the same kind of hidden quality difference that appears to exist between Intel/AMD. In other words, do you really get what you pay for, or is one company greedy and the other more generous in trying to compete?)


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 Post subject: Re: CPU benchmarks vs gaming viability (Intel/AMD)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:08 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5543
Ignoring any indication of foul play, the major reason why Intel performs better in games is because games depend more on single core performance rather than multi-threaded performance, and Intel excels in single core performance. The number of games that actually scale with multiple cores (that I know of) can be counted with one hand... and the only ones I know are both Supreme Commander games. And probably the biggest reason why games don't take advantage of more cores is because PC gaming has to be designed to run on a base specification, which is more often than not a dual core system. Or so I'd like to think. But either way, games are not usually optimized for multithreading and it may or may not be feasible to do so since the CPU doesn't have much to do these days with a fully featured game.

I also don't believe that because the PS4 and XBO have an AMD 8-core chip that multicore performance will improve. The chip used is equivalent to Intel's latest Atom processors, which while they aren't terrible, a dinky Celeron or Pentium Dual Core can beat them easily.

As far as GPUs go, AMD right now has the best price/performance ratio because they're cutting their card's prices and throwing in free games (so the effective price of the card is basically that minus up to $180 because some of the higher end bundles include 3 games). I'm thinking this is because AMD is trying to win back the market as, if it's anything to go by, Steam's hardware survey shows that something like 60% of GPUs used is NVIDIA. And while people are divided on this topic, the Radeon series has a reputation for shoddy drivers.


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 Post subject: Re: CPU benchmarks vs gaming viability (Intel/AMD)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:52 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:33 am
Posts: 3
Thank you for your reply and your explanation.

So I take it then, that the apparently good CPU benchmark software can make much more use of the threading and multiple cores than the game software will, and that's why the benchmark may not be a good basis for selecting a CPU for gaming.

But a couple more questions, if you don't mind... what did you mean about indication of foul play? Does that mean benchmark listings may be faked?

As for Radeon drivers.... what would be the consequence of shoddy drivers? Might it possibly affect framerate/performance type issues, or does this mean something more like crashes and errors? I think I have heard that there are third-party drivers... but it seems hard to imagine how a few volunteers could fix in their spare time what a bunch of professionals can't fix in their full-time jobs. Although, that's what free software seems to be all about.

By the way, the recent game experience that made me think about CPU was Guild Wars 2. My GPU is ATI Radeon HD 4850, which admittedly is not a new or top-tier GPU, but up until now I have been able to play almost all games on at least medium settings or higher, with at least minimally acceptable framerate (which for me is about 20 FPS). But when I recently got into a Guild Wars 2 free trial weekend, I was getting a maximum of 9 FPS on the lowest settings. I immediately was thinking "something isn't right here" and tried to consult the game's general chat, where at least a couple individuals suggested that GW2 is notoriously dependent on CPU for good performance. My CPU is an Intel Core2 Quad-core Q6600 2.4 GHz, which I have never felt to be a limiting factor/bottleneck in gaming, but what do I know... This experience has really thrown what-I-thought-I-knew out the window, and made me question the new PC build I was planning to do.

I was thinking, based on benchmark/price ratio, I would get both AMD CPU and GPU this time around, but now I am thinking that the better deal may be to stick with Intel on the CPU, since the only time I need "power" is for gaming graphics. It seems that AMD is still a good way to save money for GPU though, I am thinking the HD 7850 or the 7950, based on currently available prices.


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 Post subject: Re: CPU benchmarks vs gaming viability (Intel/AMD)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:54 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5543
People accuse Intel of biasing x86 compiled software because the compiler used may have been Intel based, which optimizes the program specifically for Intel processors and doesn't do the same optimizations for others (despite the fact that for all intents and purposes, AMD has the same feature set instruction wise than Intel). And while I'm weary of an Intel based compiler, it makes me wonder why there isn't an AMD equivalent that's widely pronounced. And besides that, a quick and dirty analysis of the architecture differences between AMD's Bulldozer/Piledriver and Intel's Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge/Haswell can show that in theory, AMD's architecture isn't as efficient anyway.

As for shoddy drivers, it's usually just that the drivers are unstable and crash. But I've only owned one AMD GPU based system and it didn't give me a problem.


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 Post subject: Re: CPU benchmarks vs gaming viability (Intel/AMD)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:03 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:33 am
Posts: 3
Thank you again for your reply. This has been very informative.


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