Core i7 Face-Off: which is the fastest gaming CPU?

This one’s been a long time coming. Final yr, we reviewed Intel’s Skylake-primarily based Core i7 6700K. We lauded its brutally rapid gaming performance, wherein its aggregate of architectural enhancements plus higher degrees of memory bandwidth translated into tangibly quicker,…

This one’s been a long time coming. Final yr, we reviewed Intel’s Skylake-primarily based Core i7 6700K. We lauded its brutally rapid gaming performance, wherein its aggregate of architectural enhancements plus higher degrees of memory bandwidth translated into tangibly quicker, smoother gameplay. However, we didn’t have access to the existing Center i7 5820K – older era hardware, But six complete cores in place of the 6700K’s four. To this day, we constantly have puzzled which become quickest – and the way the colossal, $a thousand octo-Center i7 5960X as compared. Now, we have solutions.

On the face of it, the contest appears excessively one-sided. While the 5820K and 5960X are based totally On the Final generation Haswell technology (dubbed Haswell-E), the X99 enthusiast platform is wealthy with excessive-cease capabilities. It is now not most effective because it has access to the trendy DDR4 gadget RAM generation; it gives quad-channel functionality while Skylake sits at twin-channel. X99 also gives extra PCI Specific bandwidth, commencing the door to complete 16x bandwidth in keeping with the card for three and 4-GPU SLI/CrossFire configurations. Skylake splits bandwidth across two 8x channels for its component whilst managing images playing cards, with three-way best to high-cease forums.

On paper, then, it all appears very one-sided. Extra processing power, more memory bandwidth, and more flexibility in accommodating more than one pics card. It’s Now, not for not anything, that the X99 platform is greater costly as funding – four sticks of RAM are optimal and that ramps up the cost of entry; at the same time as motherboards are typically pricier too. However, Intel threw us a curveball whilst it priced the Middle i7 5820K. This six-Middle chip presently expenses around £three hundred-£320 – No longer that rather more costly than the i7 6700K. Indeed, inside the first few months after the Skylake launch, while availability becomes an actual problem, the 5820K turned into now and then even cheaper.
 fastest gaming CPU
But is it quicker? On this analysis, we determined four different benchmark runs for the 6700K, 5820K, and 5960X. We would run a Titan X overclocked at 1080p decision to awareness the system bottleneck on the CPU, and We might bench at ultra settings (or equivalent) with each processor at inventory speeds and overclock as away as we should properly take them. Inside the Center i7 6700K case, we achieved a stable 4.6GHz at a toasty 1.4v. The Haswell-E cores are larger, But regardless, 1.3v of juice took us to 4.6GHz On the 5820K and four.4GHz At the 5960X. It’s far well worth stressing that every unmarried CPU out there will overclock to various extents – However, we might be amazed if you could not hit four.4GHz on them all. To preserve our chips cool, we used a Corsair H100i GTX closed-loop water cooler.


However, we suspected that with chips as powerful as these, we ought to well hit GPU limits regardless, so we also instigated a 2d collection of checks, wherein we ran each chip along with two GTX 980s in SLI. We used a modern Windows 10 set up, and our structures were paired with 4x 4GB of 3000MHz DDR4 supplied by using Corsair. Apparently, running the XMP profile On the X99 machine instigated an unwanted CPU to overclock, forcing us to push RAM frequency as much as 3200MHz there. This is probably small beans bearing in thoughts X99’s massive memory bandwidth gain.

There are a few actual surprises and upsets in the results here – Not least that very, only a few games, in reality, appear to utilize anything just like the full power of the 8-Middle i7 5960X. Using and large, it fingers in showings commensurate with clock-speed instead of the range of cores, which means that the overall performance profile of the $one thousand CPU is almost absolutely like-for-like with the far inexpensive 5820K. But perhaps greater surprising still is the showing of the 6700K. At inventory speeds, It’s extraordinarily aggressive with the greater luxurious processors. Overclocked, It’s miles the fastest chip within the line-up in all However, one identifies – Crysis three, wherein 5960X is quicker.

The biggest surprise comes from some distances Cry 4, in which Skylake positively annihilates both Haswell-E chips. We know that it uses one or two cores to electricity all the others, and for this one name, we see a 20fps gain over the 5820K. Interestingly, regardless of the 5820K’s overclock best being 200MHz better, it achieves a complete 10fps gain over the eight-Center 5960X. There are some other thrilling outcomes – Assassin’s Creed Cohesion, without a doubt, looks GPU-restricted right here as none of the overclocks appearance particularly powerful, and but Skylake nevertheless manages to pump out a 5fps gain. The evidently quicker structure can push the GPU limit a touch similarly in a manner that clock-speeds can’t.

Different effects really seem like margin of errors stuff – nothing truely to put in writing home about. In a few of the gameplay tests, the experience among all three processors felt very, very comparable, though Skylake‘s some distances Cry 4 domination turned into with ease apparent. But, It is fair to say that these benchmark sequences can the handiest go up to now. Take Crysis 3 as an example. On very excessive settings at 1080p, It’s pretty clean to hit CPU limits with the Titan X or GTX 980 Ti on 6700K, mainly in the extra foliage-wealthy sections the extent. In those areas, 5820K and 5960X do appear smoother.

For games like Shadow of Mordor, Murderer’s Creed Harmony, and much of the Crysis three benchmark runs, the sheer uniformity in body-times you can see inside the video strongly shows that GPU is the limiting element and probably preserving again our results. Armed with two GTX 980s running in SLI, we re-benched with a purpose to raise the bar graphically and to put even extra stress on our CPUs.

We’re searching at an SLI set-up the use of different cards to our unmarried-chip GPU checks, However regardless, what’s clear is that at 1080p decision, an excessive-stop multi-GPU Computer doesn’t genuinely provide tons in traumatic titles. In fact, evaluating one overclocked Titan with GTX 980s in SLI, we can, from time to time, see a small regression in usual overall performance (in all likelihood, the extra CPU burden of powering two cards?). No longer incredibly, Shadow of Mordor and Murderer’s Creed Team spirit make display improvement; however, once more, constant consequences over again seem to indicate that the GPU remains the bottleneck and that each one of our processors has much more to offer on those titles.

Regardless, although X99 offers full x16 PCI Express bandwidth for each card, It’s Skylake with 8x consistent with GPU that manages to win each and every overclocked benchmark, which means that processor architecture and clock-speed are paramount. The inventory speed wins are to be expected – strolling XMP memory overclocking additionally turns on better Intel turbo on maximum motherboards, pushing up base clocks on all cores to four.2GHz vs. 3.6GHz On the 5820K and 3.5GHz At the 5960X. Meanwhile, an overclocked Skylake magnifies its architectural upgrades nevertheless also. Skylake even manages to prevail on Crysis three – the game where the 5960X controlled to squeeze out a win against the 6700K in our single-GPU tests. Grand Theft Auto 5 is also remarkably close right here.

The takeaways right here seem quite self-obvious, although – absolutely all modern-day games utilize as a minimum eight threads. This interprets into better and regularly smoother overall performance whilst a Middle i7 processor is compared to its i5 counterpart – in Skylake‘s case, the Center i5 6600K. We went into these assessments thinking that the eight-thread support would possibly result in even higher performance whilst run through extra bodily full cores. Crysis 3 and Grand Robbery Vehicle 5 do display that there are a few profits right here, But they’re quite rare – and that they seem to be eclipsed using the pure single-Center brute-pressure provided with the aid of an extra current structure. In impact, the benefit that kept Intel ahead of AMD in the CPU gaming overall performance warfare also serves to limit the effectiveness of the firm’s personal many-Middle designs.

In every recreation tested – bar one – all the chips have been capable of preserving frame-prices well north of 60fps. Most effective GTA 5 held us again here, But dialing the advanced distance rendering putting again would kind during record time. However, in all cases, getting something like the sustained 120fps for best performance with higher refresh presentations turned out to be not possible – However, it truly is a topic we’ve got already included in our analysis of severe body-charge gaming. The CPU – or much more likely pics API and recreation engine designs – are retaining us again right here. Regardless, image hardware continues to scale upwards, But as our Titan X and GTX 980 SLI effects truly show, we are not getting the full gain here in phrases of high-speed gameplay. Growing graphical outcomes and determination is the only manner to absolutely exercise CPU strength. Still, as you may see right here, even at 4K, we can be held again by way of other gadget elements.

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