Scaling: CPU Core Count
Beyond comparing different host processing architectures, we wanted to measure the response of a similar architecture with different physical core configurations, similar to what we did in Part 1: DirectX 11 Gaming And Multi-Core CPU Scaling. The CPUs we tested in that piece are the same ones appearing in this one, and they’re all set to a static 3.9 GHz with Hyper-Threading disabled to again isolate core count as much as possible.
FHD is the resolution we’d expect to vary the most based on host processing. But the four-, six-, eight-, and 10-core designs all average within a frame and a half of each other. Only the two-core Core i3-6320 is completely hobbled, despite the GeForce GTX 1080 complementing it.
This is a sharp contrast to the Battlefield 4 numbers we recorded in our multi-core scaling story. That game called for a dual-core CPU at minimum, while Battlefield 1’s requirements start with a four-core (Intel) or six-core (AMD) processor. These results illustrate why the bar was raised. Despite employing the same Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefield 1 clearly utilizes available resources differently than its predecessor.
Because pressure from the graphics workload pushes frame rates down on our four higher-end setups, while the Core i3 continues to bottleneck performance down low, the delta between CPU- and GPU-bound scenarios narrows somewhat.
We notice one other emerging trend, though. At 1920x1080, the quad-core Skylake chip achieved about 93% of the six-core Broadwell-E-based platform’s minimum frame rate (even though their averages were nearly identical). The same thing happens at 2560x1440. Might the higher core count Broadwell-Es be more resilient to sudden bursts of intensity that cause performance dips on CPUs with fewer cores?
UHD shifts enough work to the GeForce GTX 1080 that differences between the four top CPUs almost completely evaporate. The Core i3 continues holding back performance, so it doesn’t even register the resolution change. Given this, it looks like a quick quad-core is plenty to keep up with Battlefield 1’s most demanding settings. Focus your budget on graphics horsepower once you’ve satisfied that requirement.
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