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Minimum System Requirements - Single and Multiple Cores

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February 18, 2008 8:32:06 PM

Hi all,

I have a question regarding minimum system requirements with most of today's games. Most of the new games say they require a CPU speed of 2.8 Ghz. Of course this is based on a single core processor, since most games don't take advantage of multi-core processors.

So hypothetically, if you have a Quad core 2.4 Ghz processor, would this really be considered as meeting the minimum system requirements? If the game only utilizes a single core, then technically, that core does not meet the minimum requirements. Would the quad core processor struggle in this situation? I realize that other programs running in the background MAY be running on a different core, and so maybe the game runs on a dedicated core, but I guess that's up to the O/S.

Would you still be able to max out the graphics on a 2.4 Ghz core with a game that requires 2.8 Ghz (that is designed to run on 1 core)?

Thanks all.
February 19, 2008 1:22:23 AM

The trick is what brand of 2.8Ghz proc are they recomending? Ill bet its a P4, and if thats the case your 2.4 Quad is more than fast enough. Things changed with processors, they got faster, but the Ghz didnt go up, so things can be a little tricky. Ill leave the detailed explanation to those more seasoned.
February 19, 2008 1:39:08 AM

The new core architecture offered by intel is much more efficient than the former pentium series. A couple years ago, an Athlon clocked at 2.8ghz could easily beat intel processors clocked at MUCH higher speeds. (I miss those days! :( ) I don't know any exact numbers, but I'm sure that a 2.4ghz quad is more than capable of handling any game out at the moment, provided you have an adequate video card.

From a purely 'multithreading' perspective, unless a game specifically takes advantage of a multicore processor, then you will probably see little if any benefit from running a quad core vs. a dual or even single core of the same clock speed, but this is only a hypothetical example and such an experiment is probably not even possible with the cpus currently on the market.

At this point in time, (though things are changing quickly like always) video cards will be the only thing preventing you from maxing out a games graphics unless your cpu is either extremely slow (well below 2 ghz) or is not a core2 series. You're just not likely to see game-breaking performance due to the cpu you have!
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February 19, 2008 1:49:25 AM

While Core 2 typically has a lower clockspeed than Pentium 4, the new chips have a shorter pipeline, and are able to perform more operations per clock cycle. Basically, at 2.4GHz, a Core 2 Duo would be as fast as a Pentium 4 with a clockspeed twice as high.
February 19, 2008 7:02:11 AM

Unless other specified in the game requirements a "2.8GHz CPU" still refers to the "old Pentium" standard. People still have Pentium 4s and Athlon XPs to a lesser extent.

Sidebar: I think the Athlon XP 3200+ (2.2GHz) works out to be about as fast as a Pentium 2.8GHz; IIRC.
February 19, 2008 7:49:01 AM

Wasn't the AMD numbering supposed to (roughly) reflect it's Pentium equivalent ie. Athlon XP 3200 approx equal to P4 3.2?
The extra cores will also help to shift any windows background tasks away from the core running your game so a dual/quad core will still potentially run a single threaded game quicker than the equivalent single core.
February 19, 2008 8:50:17 AM

rayzor said:

From a purely 'multithreading' perspective, unless a game specifically takes advantage of a multicore processor, then you will probably see little if any benefit from running a quad core vs. a dual or even single core of the same clock speed, but this is only a hypothetical example and such an experiment is probably not even possible with the cpus currently on the market.


One of the (many) complaints heard by Vista users is that the OS has quite a big footprint and background tasks are going on a lot of the time, even when you're gaming. I guess having a quad core cpu will really help in perceived performance improvement over a single core running on Vista.
February 19, 2008 2:25:41 PM

mi1ez said:
Wasn't the AMD numbering supposed to (roughly) reflect it's Pentium equivalent ie. Athlon XP 3200 approx equal to P4 3.2?

It was, but that only held true with the 400 bus and 533 bus Intel P4's. When the i865pe/i875p chipsets and the P4C (800MHz bus P4's) launched, the Athlon XP's names no longer matched up. A P4 2.8C usually beats an AXP 3200+. And AMD's names don't make sense either as an Athlon 64 2800+ trounces the XP3200+.

Just a side note/example. This weekend, I've been trying to get Test Drive Unlimited tweaked to run on my HTPC (mobile XP 2500+). The game has very few video options (low/med/high), and a stock XP 2500+ is below minimum spec. Even with a X1650XT or X800XTpe video card, 800x600 low is not playable and often sits under 20 fps. So installing these video cards was a waste for this game with this cpu. If I OC the chip to 2.2GHz XP3200+ speeds, it is playable, but still not great. Set to XP2800+ settings (AMD 2800 is mentioned as minimum specs), it is still not playable IMO. An A64 2800+ would be a different story. I really feel the Athlon XP's are below minimum spec for this game. Test Drive Unlimited is very CPU intensive. You need at the minimum 2.2Ghz or above on a barton (athlon XP) to run it.

My problem is, while this particular mobile 2500+ hits 2.4GHz no problem, the system runs too hot in my HTPC case at those speeds and I prefer running it at 1.45v which limits me to 2.0GHz. So I need to do some case modding or just install a new mobo/cpu to run this game. I may just stick my old vga silencer 9800 pro back in, run the cpu at stock speeds, and forget playing TDU on this thing.
February 19, 2008 2:29:09 PM

IMO, if a game states P4 2.8GHz or AMD 2800 as a minimum spec, but mentions dual core processors specifically as the recommended spec, it probably takes advantage of mulithreading so even a 1.8GHz dual core X2 3800+ would be fine. Not to mention, even an A64 3000+ (1.8GHz single core) is faster than a P4 2.8Ghz.
February 19, 2008 3:57:01 PM

Thanks all for replying.

Just to clarify, I was referring to Intel P4 and Core 2 Quad processor specs as listed by the game manufacturers. So it seems that game developers don't spend the time and money on testing out the minimum system requirements for all types of processors if the game is coded for single core. Right now they are still focusing on P4, and not setting a minimum standard for Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad. But is it because the slowest Core 2 Duo and Quad are faster than the P4 2.8 Ghz? I believe the slowest Core 2 Duo is 1.86 Ghz and the slowest Core 2 Quad is 2.4 Ghz.

I understand that the new architecture of the multi-core processors makes it difficult to compare to the old single-core P4, especially when the FSB rates are higher. It seems only a handful of new games list the multi-core processors in the minimum system requirements and that's probably because they are coded to take advantage of them.
February 19, 2008 5:27:27 PM

cornholio_oh said:
...Right now they are still focusing on P4, and not setting a minimum standard for Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad. But is it because the slowest Core 2 Duo and Quad are faster than the P4 2.8 Ghz?...


There are still a lot of people out there who game with pentiums! (or try to at least).
February 19, 2008 10:26:35 PM

I used to game on a P4 EE 3.4GHz 5 months ago. It still kicked arse but when I got my Q6600 it made me go "Wow....". Then I OC'ed it to 3GHz and my jaw dropped to the floor and almost made it to hell before it came back up.

My Q6600 @ 3GHz will give any Pentium 4/D a run for its money even my P4 EE 3.4GHz.

But yes if its a C2D oe a C2Q look up the performance. Usually most will be able to run a game requiering a P4 2.8GHz. Almost sounds like Crysis since thats the one game I know needs a P4 2.8GHz+
February 20, 2008 3:17:31 AM

cornholio_oh said:
But is it because the slowest Core 2 Duo and Quad are faster than the P4 2.8 Ghz?
Yep. Like I said even a 1.8GHz single core A64 3000+ spanks a P4 2.8Ghz. Any core 2 duo would beat P4 2.8GHz even in a game that isn't multithreaded. Look at an C2D 1.8Ghz e4300 vs the 2.8GHz P4 e520. http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu_2007.html?modelx=33&m...


Shoot, the 1.8GHz e4300 beats the dual core 3.6GHz Pentium D 960 in that game chart.
February 20, 2008 7:26:53 AM

pauldh said:
Shoot, the 1.8GHz e4300 beats the dual core 3.6GHz Pentium D 960 in that game chart.


Roll on pay day!

My 3.4 Pentium D is really starting to grate on me now....
February 27, 2008 9:51:59 PM

Quote:
So hypothetically, if you have a Quad core 2.4 Ghz processor, would this really be considered as meeting the minimum system requirements?


Yes
March 2, 2008 11:35:19 AM

Slight thread hi-jack, but I assume that a Core 2 Duo 1.66Ghz in my laptop would easily be faster than a 2.6Ghz Pentium D and a 2Ghz 3800+ X2? (those are the minimum CPU for Assassins Creed). If so, it means I should be able to play AC on minimum!! (providing the 8600M GS it has can run it on minimum too).
March 7, 2008 12:55:43 AM

Bonzo said:
Slight thread hi-jack, but I assume that a Core 2 Duo 1.66Ghz in my laptop would easily be faster than a 2.6Ghz Pentium D and a 2Ghz 3800+ X2? (those are the minimum CPU for Assassins Creed). If so, it means I should be able to play AC on minimum!! (providing the 8600M GS it has can run it on minimum too).


It's a lot faster than a PD 2.6GHz, but probably only just slightly faster than the X2 3800+. You'll probably be more GPU limited if anything on a 8600M GS...
!