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Do The Meltdown and Spectre Patches Affect PC Gaming Performance? 10 CPUs Tested

VRMark, 3DMark & AotS: Escalation

Comparison CPUs

VRMark & 3DMark

We aren't big fans of using synthetic benchmarks to represent real-world game performance, but 3DMark's DX11 and DX12 CPU tests provide useful insight into the amount of horsepower available to game engines.

Futuremark's VRMark test lets you gauge your system's suitability for use with the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, even if you don't currently own an HMD. The Orange Room test is based on the suggested system requirements for current-generation HTC Vive and Oculus Rift HMDs. Futuremark defines a passing score as anything above 109 FPS.

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Futuremark specifies a 3% maximum variance between runs if we adhere to normal testing best practices, such as ensuring similar configurations and drivers between systems, allowing the PC to enter an idle state, and conducting tests with the same environmental factors. Of course, there are sub-tests in suites like PCMark 10 that can fall outside the 3% window, at which point we rely upon averages. We didn't encounter those issue with these gaming-focused tests, though.

VRMark reflects a negligible impact from the patches across our entire field of CPUs. At times, the patched operating systems are slightly faster, but these values land within the 3% margin of error. That means those higher results are merely a byproduct of normal run-to-run variability.

The DX11 and DX12 CPU benchmarks respond to core counts and increased parallelism. Frankly, these tests don't show us much of interest. There is some jockeying between patched and unpatched configurations, but the results are uneventful overall.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

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Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation scales nicely with the addition of computational horsepower, so graphics aren't limiting us.

We observe minor variations between the patched and unpatched systems. For instance, a patched Core i7-8700K outpaces the vulnerable configuration. But a 1.6% delta is still within our expectations of normal run-to-run variance. We also don't record any extreme changes to the frame time or frame time variance metrics.

Notice that we split our results into two classes due to the sheer number of tests we ran. Be sure to scroll across the album for our comparison of Core i3, Ryzen 3, and Pentium processors.


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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.