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Benchmark Results: Resident Evil 5

Core i5, Core i7, CrossFire, And SLI: Gaming Paradise, Redux?

You’ll need to take our Resident Evil 5 numbers with a grain of salt if you can’t help comparing ATI to Nvidia. After all, the game doesn’t launch in North America until mid-September, and was only released as a benchmarkable demo by Nvidia to showcase its 3D Vision technology.

With that said, it’s a pretty game, and our talks with Capcom have indicated that the demo is indicative of the title’s performance. More than likely, ATI simply needs more time in order to make its own driver optimizations.

Update: After a bit of waiting, we were plugged in to the game's developers in Japan, who let us know that there is zero difference between the DirectX 9 and DirectX 10 code paths available in the demo. Thus, if you run the demo on ATI hardware, be sure to use the DirectX 9 path. For the purpose of these tests, again, don't bother comparing performance, as the Radeon HD 4870 X2s should be significantly quicker. If you're running Nvidia hardware, it's also safe to go with DirectX 9. The DirectX 10 option is the way to go for playing through GeForce 3D Vision shades.

Update 2: There's a hotfix that ATI says adds CrossFireX support to Resident Evil 5, available here. This was not the problem we were experiencing here, it turns out, though. With the hotfix applied, our results in the DirectX 10 version of the demo were still at or under 40 frames per second. The real issue is, in fact, the DirectX 10 mode of the game. Re-running 2560x1600 with 4xAA results in a score of 104.6 frames per second (higher than a pair of GeForce GTX 285s on the Core i5 platform). If you're testing your ATI-based GPU in this one, make sure you use DX9!

Until then, we see the lowest-res test favoring the Core i5 and Core i7 LGA 1156-based platforms, suggesting that this title isn’t well-optimized for threading and is instead seeing processor-specific gains due to Turbo Boost kicking in. Transitioning to 2560x1600 negates that benefit though, as graphics performance is more acutely emphasized—a claim substantiated by SLI positively affecting performance where it didn’t before. In both resolutions, CrossFire actually hurts the performance of ATI’s cards, suggesting that there is simply no profile yet available for Resident Evil 5.

We see the same favoritism toward the new LGA 1156 CPUs paired with Nvidia’s fastest single-GPU card, and the gain grows with a pair installed. Though this contradicts the results of our academic look at integrated PCI Express, which showed that, at comparable clocks, X58’s dedicated x16 links enabled better performance, the addition of Turbo Boost accelerating CPU performance in a poorly-threaded game would in fact give these graphics processors more room to breathe and result in a less CPU-limited environment.

The same advantage persists at 2560x1600, though it isn’t as pronounced, since the graphics cards are decidedly more taxed here. The scaling with SLI is truly impressive, even if it’s the result of significant optimization prior to the game’s launch. At the end of the day, this is still good news for gamers with Nvidia cards.

ATI owners will need to wait until the company’s driver team gets its hands on the game, optimizes the Catalyst suite, and adds a CrossFire profile. With the demo now available, we can only hope it’ll wrap this into its next driver release around the time Resident Evil 5 ships to retail.

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