Saturday, June 3, 2023

How many CPU cores do you need for modern games?

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8, 12, 16 – how many cores do you need for a gaming computer now? What performance impact do virtual threads have? What is the CPU load in this or that game and is there still a reserve for the future? Many asked themselves such questions during the choice of the processor. Today we will try to understand them.

To understand everything described below, it is worth touching a little on the architecture of Zen 2 processors.

The processors of the Zen 2 family consist of a chiplet with CCD (Core Complex Die) computing cores and an input / output chiplet (cIOD). CCD, in turn, consists of two CCX (Core Complex), one CCX carries up to four processor cores with support for SMT technology. It is the combination of cores in CCX that allows you to change the number of cores in the processor, of course, if we are talking about Zen 2 processors with up to 8 cores.

If the processor uses 12-16 cores, then two CCDs are already used with three active cores in each CCX and four active cores for the 16-core Ryzen R9 3950X processor.

To make testing as close as possible to lower processors, two processors of the Zen 2 series will be used:

During testing, all the resulting processors were overclocked manually with the clock frequency fixed for all cores at around 4200 MHz.

All games tested were set to their highest graphics quality settings, anti-aliasing disabled, and set to 720p to minimize 100% graphics card usage. For testing, the Windows 10 operating system with all updates was installed.

Testing
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

For a comfortable game with an acceptable amount of FPS, you need at least 8 virtual threads. With an increase in the number of threads to 12, the maximum FPS increases slightly, but the smoothness of the game changes for the better.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

The game is quite well optimized for multi-core processors. Activating SMT technology on a 4-core processor gives a performance increase of almost 20%. This is due to the fact that the processor load throughout the entire test period is in the range of 90-100%, and this is without the activity of any background programs. Further increase in the number of threads over six does not affect performance so much.

Counter-Strike Global Offensive

The game is quite well optimized for multi-core processors. Activating SMT technology on a 4-core processor gives a performance increase of almost 20%. This is due to the fact that the processor load throughout the entire test period is in the range of 90-100%, and this is without the activity of any background programs. Further increase in the number of threads over six does not affect performance so much.

Even a 4-core processor has a future, because its utilization rarely exceeded 60%.

Fortnite

Another fairly popular online shooter. However, in this case, the game on a 4-core processor no longer looks so unambiguously good. The presence of SMT technology has a positive effect on performance. Its greatest growth is observed when moving from 4 to 6 cores, a further increase in the flow has practically no effect on performance.

Throughout the test period, the 4-core processor load is within 90%, which can cause freezes and twitches during active gaming.

Grand Theft Auto V

After a recent free giveaway, this game is gaining popularity again.
Grand Theft Auto V, like any open world game, loves a lot of cores. The 4-core processor still copes. This is not surprising, since this game is from 2015. However, its loading throughout the entire test period is close to 100%. Increasing the number of cores to more than 6 won’t affect performance as much as moving from 4 cores.

Kingdom Come Deliverance

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a massive open world RPG that takes you to Bohemia XIV. The game is not very well optimized, but even here there is a significant increase in performance from moving from 4 cores to 6, especially on very rare events, which reflect the main smoothness of the gameplay.

AZ-800 C_BOBIP_43 NCP-MCA H12-311_V3.0 H11-851_V3.0 Databricks-Certified-Associate-Developer-for-Apache-Spark-3.0 CCDAK C_THR83_2111 C_SACP_2120 1V0-31.21 AZ-801 1Z0-1085-21 1Z0-1084-21 1Z0-1083-21 1Z0-1079-21 1Z0-1077-21 1Z0-1076-21 1Z0-1075-21 1Z0-1052-21 DES-DD23 1Z0-1069-21 3V0-21.21 Professional-Data-Engineer 2V0-51.21 2V0-21.20 C_C4H420_13 DES-1121 AZ-220 1Z0-1059-21 1Z0-1055-21 1Z0-1046-21 1Y0-403 MB-210 C_ARSOR_2108 Looker-Business-Analyst C_C4HCX_04 C_HRHFC_2105 C_TS452_2020 C1000-124 SAFe-DevOps ATA02

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus is one of those games where the best investment is in the graphics card. There is almost no difference in performance when moving from four full cores to a 24-thread processor during the game, the only difference is much faster launch of the game itself and loading levels.

If there is practically no difference in performance, then the load level between processors with different numbers of cores changes very significantly. Even with a 4-core processor, you can go through the game without any discomfort.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Another game where changing the number of processor cores has almost no effect on performance. Most of the time, the graphics card will be the limiting factor.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

This game responds well to the growth in the number of cores and threads – the more cores, the more performance. The difference in performance is noticeable not only when moving from 4 cores to 6, but also when moving to 8 cores and even 12. SMT technology proved to be the best in this game.

This game responds well to the growth in the number of cores and threads – the more cores, the more performance. The difference in performance is noticeable not only when moving from 4 cores to 6, but also when moving to 8 cores and even 12. SMT technology proved to be the best in this game.

conclusions
The so-called Era of 4-core processors, even with technology (SMT and HT), is inevitably coming to an end, and now you need to buy a processor for modern games with at least 6 real cores, and preferably 12 virtual threads.At the same time, if we are talking about games, overpaying for 8/16 or even 16/32 monsters does not make any sense at all, it is better to invest these funds in a more powerful video card.

As you can see, the loading of even a 6-core processor with SMT technology rarely exceeded 50% in any game projects, which guarantees some reserve for the future. And the loading of the video card, even at 720p resolution, quite often approached 100% – it is she who in everyday conditions will be the limiting factor in performance.

Therefore, if there is a choice to buy a more powerful processor or video card, then it is obvious.
Gaming performance is not only limited by the processor and graphics card, optimization also plays an important role. If it is not there or it is not very good, as, for example, in the tested Kingdom Come Deliverance, alas, the performance will be appropriate, no matter how many cores the processor has or how powerful the video card is.

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