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AMD's Piledriver And K10 CPU Architectures Face Off

Results: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim remains a popular title thanks to the modding community and numerous downloadable expansion packs. While it’s not necessarily a demanding title, it remains a very relevant benchmark. I'll often pick a fight within the City of Markarth to take a worst-case look at playability, but the Tom’s Hardware’s standard 25-second run through Riverwood is almost as demanding and far easier to repeat amongst editors.

Despite an official quad-core CPU recommendation, Skyrim doesn’t effectively utilize more than two cores. Both Athlon processors are out-classed by the Phenom II and FX, although the Athlon X4 750K recovers once it's overclocked.

Clear scaling is apparent in our testing, but all of these processors deliver playable performance.

Although it's still playable using the Ultra detail setting, AMD's Athlon II X4 640 looks weak, and I don’t doubt that there are user-created mods that'd bring it to its knees. In fact, the 640 is the only CPU in our two-part series that drops under 40 FPS. Worse, the chip even falls under that mark when we overclock it. This has to be attributable to L3 cache, since the Propus architecture is completely outclassed by Deneb. When we chart out frame rate over time, we see that the 3.6 GHz Athlon II only peaks above the Phenom II's minimum at the very end of our test sequence. 

  • KelvinTy
    So much BS, the old Phenom II X4 and X6 BE are still really competitive after all these years. Yet, if they bother to update the instruction set, and just shrink the thing, then change it to AM3+ socket, that would be great...
    K10 has so much more potential...
    Reply
  • Personally, I was surprised to see the FX-4350 do so well. The bump up, compared to the FX-4300, has really done it some good.
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    Kelvin, the tests showed that the Piledriver FXes are not that far off the Phenom IIs clock for clock and core for core. The Phenom II X4 965BE at 4.0 GHz was generally about as fast as the stock FX-4350 running 200-400 MHz faster so you figure about a 5% per-clock, per-core advantage for the Phenom II. However, each Piledriver core is quite a bit smaller than a K10 core and they also have a longer pipeline so they can clock quite a bit faster (K10 was pretty well tapped out.) So you get more cores and more clocks out of Piledriver with essentially the same performance per core and per clock. I'd say that the modular architecture used in the FXes finally got the vindication it deserved with this test. Way to go Tom's.
    Reply
  • Onus
    As I was going through this, at first I was worried about the absence of comparison to Intel, but was relieved to see it at the end. Especially if I don't want to push my 970BE really hard (I'd rather play on my PC than with it), the FX-63x0 looks like a viable upgrade.
    Reply
  • cmartin011
    I want some juice GPU news. I am aware they are not going anywhere fast with CPUs. My wallet will be open for 8 core in 2 years when performance Increases 20%
    Reply
  • rmpumper
    I just want some solid numbers on Steamroller already.
    Reply
  • magnesiumk
    Thank you so much for writing this article. Thank you also for including the Phenom II 965 processor to this test. I use it, and it is somewhat dated, and hard to find compared to newer cores. However it still kicks a lot of butt in gaming. I bought my Phenom II 955BE C3 last year with overclocking in mind

    I always wanted to see how it would compare to newer models, and even intel counterparts. Thank you for this. I loved reading the article. Keep comparisons like this coming.
    Reply
  • magnesiumk
    I also wanted to add, thank you for listing the 965BE with overclock at 4Ghz. It's easy to clock this processor up to those speeds. That's about what I run at, and it also runs much greater than stock speeds. This is important in future comparison tests. Thanks again.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    Wanted to see i3 and i5 CPUs on the charts. Not just in the "Wrapping things up" section. Also, why not compare to a i5-3470? It's locked, cheaper, and still fast.
    Reply
  • crisan_tiberiu
    if the 6350 is so close to the 3570k the 8350 eats it alive..and everybody recommends the i5 ^-. AMD has still good value
    Reply