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Part 1: DirectX 11 Gaming And Multi-Core CPU Scaling

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor & Rise of the Tomb Raider

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

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In terms of average and minimum frame rates, Middle-earth is perhaps the least-interesting title in our suite. But the frame time variance charts tell a different story: mainly, the 10-core CPU exhibits strange yet repeatable spikes throughout the run. Intel’s Core i3-6320 has issues of its own, but they’re nowhere near as severe.

Flip back over to the average frame rates, though, and you see every CPU from two to 10 cores exceeding 150 FPS. Given the title’s Core i5-750 minimum requirement, you’d think a Core i3 with HT disabled would suffer more.

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A presumed lack of optimization for multi-core CPUs results in average and minimum frame rates that simply do not change as you pile on host processing resources. However, the move up to 2560x1440 does afflict our eight-core -6900K with the same issue that affected Intel’s Core i7-6950X at 1920x1080. Incidentally, the 10-core CPU still demonstrates frenetic frame times through Middle-earth’s built-in benchmark.

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The story changes little from 2560x1440 to 3840x2160—five processors perform similarly, as the highest core counts exhibit odd frame time behavior.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


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Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Officially, Rise of the Tomb Raider requires at least a Core i3-2100. Although our Core i3-6320 is significantly faster, remember that we turn off its Hyper-Threading technology to isolate just the physical cores for our experiment. As a result, we’re limited to two threads rather than the four you’d get from a stock -2100. Perhaps that’s why we couldn’t get a successful run out of our dual-core setup at 1920x1080.

The other four CPUs are fairly evenly matched, on the other hand. Intel’s Core i7-6700K does achieve the highest average thanks to a burst of performance during the last quarter of the run. But it subsequently drops to a lower minimum frame rate than the eight- and 10-core CPUs.

Interestingly, the -6700K also suffers the worst frame time spikes through the run. They aren’t frequent, but you’ll certainly “feel” 100 and 300 ms hiccups.

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Two cores do make it through our test at 2560x1440, though the low minimum frame rate is a good sign that the frame time results won’t be pretty. Sure enough, exaggerated peaks and valleys illustrate the Core i3’s plight.

Everything else is once again comparable.

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By 3840x2160, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 is shouldering most of the workload. Superficially, the dual-core i3’s Skylake architecture benefits from this, jumping into a first-place finish in average frame rate (or at least a five-way tie with the other CPUs). Its minimum frame rate isn’t even a red flag. Flip over to the frame time graphs, though, and it’s evident that smoothness is still an issue.

As we saw in our 2560x1440 results, the other four processors behave similarly.

Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.