As you know, it is the graphics subsystem that determines the performance of the entire platform in the majority of contemporary games if the platform has a fast enough processor. Therefore, we select the most CPU-dependent games and measure the frame rate in two test modes. For the first mode we use lower resolutions and disable full-screen antialiasing, so we could see how well the processor can cope with gaming loads in general. This provides some insight into how the tested CPU is going to behave in the nearest future when it is accompanied with faster graphics cards. The second test mode refers to real-life settings: Full HD and maximum FSAA. In our opinion, these results are no less interesting as they demonstrate clearly the level of performance we can expect from contemporary processors today.
Gaming performance is something that we’ve always blamed AMD’s processors for. Unfortunately, the higher clock rates of the FX-9590 and FX-9370 can’t do anything about that. There is not a single game on our test program, which includes the most CPU-sensitive gaming applications, where the flagship FX-9590 can challenge the Core i7-4770K. What is especially bad for AMD, the difference in performance is quite obvious not only at the low resolutions but also in the popular Full-HD mode with maximum visual quality settings.
So it looks like increasing the clock rate of processors with Piledriver microarchitecture can’t make them attractive as gaming solutions. The problem is rooted in the microarchitecture itself which has a relatively low efficiency in terms of performance per core. Even though modern games can run in multiple computing threads, gaming loads cannot be paralleled as easily as encryption or 3D rendering loads. The game engine still runs as a single thread, so single-threaded performance remains most important for a CPU that's going to be used in gaming configurations. Metro: Last Light and Hitman: Absolution are good examples of our point: both can load each of the eight cores of the top-end FX series processors, yet the frame rate remains rather low.
We'll finish our gaming tests by running the popular synthetic benchmark 3DMark.
Although 3DMark is optimized for multicore CPU architectures, the top-end Vishera-based processors fall behind the Core i7-4770K, despite higher clock rates (by as much as 1 GHz) and twice as many x86 cores. Even if games get more efficiently adapted to multicore CPUs in the future, the FX series will hardly show anything exceptional in them. So, if you’re building a modern top-end gaming configuration, you should prefer an Intel solution, especially as the Socket AM3+ platform doesn't support PCI Express 3.0.