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We now know how a number of different graphics cards handle Guild Wars 2's various detail presets complemented by a fairly capable platform. But what happens when we pull the rug out from under the GPU with varied processor settings?
Using a trio of processor architectures (Intel's Sandy Bridge, AMD's Bulldozer, and a Llano-based APU) we isolated clock rate with quad-core configurations.
Sandy Bridge proves itself over and over in gaming workloads. Here, it's able to let our Radeon HD 7970 stretch its legs even at 3 GHz. Overclocking to 4 GHz yields very little extra performance.
AMD's dual-module FX-4000-series demonstrates a colossal gain between 3 and 4 GHz, though, telling us that the processor is bottlenecking performance in a big way at lower frequencies.
Pushing the Llano-based APU up to 3 GHz (from 2 GHz) is less rewarding, though there is a speed-up to be had. (Ed.: Clearly, it appears that AMD's best shot at catching Sandy Bridge at 3 GHz is a quad-core Bulldozer-based chip at 5 GHz or so. Sorry, couldn't resist).
The next experiment involves altering each architecture to determine how many processing cores Guild Wars 2 is able to exploit.
Four physical cores appear ideal, based on our results from the Sandy Bridge design. Sandy Bridge-E doesn't seem to introduce any benefit at all. Intel's dual-core, Hyper-Threaded Core i3 and dual-core Pentium are notably slower, though they still embarrass the eight-core AMD FX at 3 GHz.
The six- and eight-core FX processors perform fairly similarly, while the quad-core FX-4000-series is quite a bit slower. Remember, though, that the eight-core chip actually consists of four Bulldozer modules. The six- and four-core parts feature three and two modules, respectively. Each module involves notable resource-sharing, which likely affects performance.
Three cores appear optimal on AMD's Llano-based APU. The fourth one yields very little performance gain. The dual-core Llano demonstrates the lowest results in this test.