As you know, it is the graphics subsystem that determines the performance of the entire platform equipped with pretty high-speed processors in the majority of contemporary games. Therefore, we select the most CPU-dependent games and take the fps readings twice. The first test run is performed without antialiasing and in far not the highest screen resolutions. These settings allow us to determine how well the processors can cope with the gaming loads in general and how the tested CPUs will behave in the nearest future, when new faster graphics card models will be widely available. The second pass is performed with more real-life settings – in FullHD resolution and maximum FSAA settings. In our opinion, these results are less interesting, but they demonstrate clearly the level of performance we can expect from contemporary processors today.
We've always regarded Core i5 series CPUs as a good choice for building a high-performance gaming computer. The transition to the Haswell microarchitecture doesn’t change anything in this respect. They are fast enough to accompany a modern graphics card, so the frame rates are almost the same in most games in the Full-HD resolution. It means the frame rate is limited by the graphics card rather than by the CPU. As for their perspectives in future applications, the low-resolution results suggest that the Haswell generation is somewhat better than the Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge. However, the senior LGA1150 processor Core i7-4770K is still better than the Core i5-4670K. Many recently released shooters, e.g. Metro: Last Light and Hitman: Absolution, support multithreading, so the Core i7 enjoys an advantage thanks to its Hyper-Threading technology. There are also examples to the contrary, though. Hyper-Threading has a negative effect in the racing sim F1 2012 where the Core i7 series are inferior to their less expensive cousins.
We'll finish our gaming tests by running the popular synthetic benchmark 3DMark Fire Strike.
The diagram sums up what we’ve seen above in the games. The Core i7 series have higher gaming potential than the Core i5. As for the Core i5 model range, all of them are the same in terms of gaming, despite their differences in microarchitecture and clock rates. So, 3D games can hardly be a reason to upgrade from Intel's older to newer quad-core CPUs.