OK, so we've seen how Hyperthreading and overclocking affects a few of the bigger games of the past year. But you're probably all asking..."can it run Crysis"? And how will our various configurations fare in Battlefield 4, which will likely be one of the best selling PC games of 2013?
Knowing that Crysis 3 was designed to push systems to the limit, we figured the CPU would be under fire in our tests in that game. And BF4's predessor Battlefield 3 was notoriously tough on dual-cores, although our previous findings showed that Hyperthreading didn't help at all. Would BF4 prove to behave the same way, despite its new, more-sophisticated game engine, Frostbite 3? For all the answers, check out our results below!
Well, that's pretty clear! Crysis 3 absolutely decimates CPUs, especially in the insane Welcome to the Jungle/High Line level, where our hero Prophet has to run through an urban jungle littered with debris while dodging huge explosions. It's demanding enough that our 3.3GHz quad-core without Hyperthreading provides unplayable performance at the "Very High" system spec we're using, dropping down to the teens for minimums, and barely holding 30fps on average. The gameplay was quite choppy, begging for a lower options setting. But add in Hyperthreading, and the game absolutely takes off, shooting into the 40s on average, and pulling a minimum of 31fps. Now that's playable! The story just continues from there, with overclocking from 3.3Ghz to 4.5GHz giving us a 45 percent boost in performance, and HT giving us a similarly robust 20-35 percent boost, with the greatest benefit at lower clock speeds. If there were ever an argument for buying into Hyperthreading, this would be it. Note that we're pretty sure there's more performance to be had from our GTX 780 - this game is thoroughly CPU-bottlenecked, at least at these settings. Add in an UltraHD resolution or perhaps some higher-level anti-aliasing, and the bottleneck would likely shift to the GPU, but at the popular 1080p, the CPU absolutely matters.
Battlefield 4 Single-Player
Uh, oh. After the overwhelming evidence provided in Crysis 3 that overclocking and HT really can make a difference, things seem to stall out with the single-player version of BF4. We are playing one of the early levels of the game, where you and your squadmates burst into an atrium full of baddies and need to shoot your way out. There's plenty of action, and naturally a bit of variability in this scene. But ultimately, what we find is that our Hyperthreaded CPU does a bit worse in this game, dropping about 4fps on average, except at the maximum overclock, where we've finally hit a GPU limitation. But who buys BF4 for the single-player campaign? Of course you all want to know how our CPU performs in multi-player, right?
Battlefield 4 Multi-Player
Oh, goodness. That's ugly. Hyperthreading falls flat on its face here, delivering a solid drop in performance across the board. Now, keep in mind that these are real, live multiplayer rounds, and we were playing the hectic Siege of Shanghai level, after the skyscraper has fallen. This is likely the most demanding scenario in the entire game, with tons of debris and lots of bullets flying. Getting identical runs back-to-back is basically impossible, but the trends speak for themselves. We repeated these runs a number of times just to make sure this was no fluke. And it wasn't. The good news is that overclocking gives us a big lift, delivering a 21 percent boost for our 36 percent jump in core speed. Remember, a 3770K at 3.3GHz is very close in performance to a stock 2500K, which a lot of gamers are still rocking. So it seems this game doesn't require a total system upgrade if you've got a reasonably-new system, as long as you're willing to overclock.
But back to Hyperthreading for a moment. Are we to conclude that Hyperthreading simply doesn't work correctly in BF4? Or is there something else going on? We decided to look into the effects of "core unparking," which has been rumored to help. Flip to the next page to see what we found!