3DMark Fire Strike Standard Preset
3DMark Fire Strike helps set the bounds for what we can expect throughout our benchmarks. We choose to highlight the Graphics Score and the Physics Score, as they are likely to be the most purely GPU and CPU bound, respectively. Sure enough, we see that the Graphics Score is relatively platform-agnostic, scoring within a range of 2 percent at all processor settings. That makes the Graphics Score a great GPU benchmark and a terrible CPU benchmark, but that's fine with us - we're not using it to compare CPUs, just to establish that there is no significant platform deficiency. Note that in both the 3220 and 3770K tests, Hyperthreading actually provided a 1 percent advantage in the Graphics Score, and based on the number of tests we performed, we'd say that it's not a fluke - we'll see if that translates to better performance in actual games. Ironically, the i3-3220 platform was in fact 1 percent faster than the 3770K in both the HT and non-HT tests, which goes to show that the B75 motherboard was not a limiting factor.
Quite unlike the Graphics Score, the Physics Score is a nearly ideal test of CPU processing power - the 3770K scores almost exactly twice as high as the 3220 at the same clock speed (6287 vs. 3097 without Hyperthreading), showing that there is perfect core scaling in this benchmark. Interestingly, Hyperthreading appears to add the equivalent of one additional core to both processors, increasing the score in this benchmark by 49 percent on the i3-3220 and 42 percent on the 3770K.
Thus, we've established that in terms of graphics horsepower, both systems are evenly-matched, while in terms of CPU processor, the 3770K has a theoretical 100 percent advantage over the 3220. Let's see how this advantage plays out in the real world, shall we?
Battlefield 3 - Swordbreaker (Single-Player)
For our real-world benchmarks, we start with one of the most popular games of the past two years, Battlefield 3. BF3, as it is affectionately referred to by its fans, is a graphics powerhouse, one of the showcase DX11-based game engines of 2011. It still holds its own against modern games, although it is soon to be replaced in the echelon of great games by Battlefield 4.
As is relatively clear from the graph, only the i3-3220 without HT has any trouble with this in-game run-through, and even that CPU is plenty to provide a very smooth experience. This will prove to be the least taxing of all our benchmarks today, by quite a bit in fact.
Interesting, while HT on the i3-3220 brings it nearly up to par with the 3770K, we see our first potential evidence of HT not benefitting the 3770K - in fact the average is 1 percent lower and the minimum is 3 percent lower. Just random error or a potential flaw in the HT ointment? More games benchmarks will help us sort through this...
Battlefield 3 - Caspian Border (Multi-Player)
Now on to something a bit more challenging - BF3 multi-player. To big fans of first-person shooters, this game is the ultimate test of a system's abilities, often used as a litmus test of sorts, much like the original Crysis of 2007. Sure enough, this benchmark proves far more demanding than the single-player game. In fact, it's essentially a completely different game when it comes to the CPU load. As noted in the introduction, for this particular test, we used 5-minute FRAPS recording intervals, rather than 60-second intervals, to account for the dynamic nature of battles against real-life players. Even so, we still found significant variations in the minimums (but not the averages) of our frames per second (fps) results. We provide the mean for both, but for what it's worth, we note that getting consistent minimums in BF3 Multi-Player is essentially impossible.
Sorting through the data, what do we find? First, the 3220 without HT is absolutely crushed, providing unplayable minimums and an average framerate just over half that of the 3770K. Once HT is enabled, the 3220 picks up some speed, but still its minimum of 35fps is at the cusp of playability. The average of 54fps is not too bad, and overall, this inexpensive chip gets a pass. The 3770K is of course much faster, benefitting from four real cores, rocketing to an average of 71fps at these very demanding settings, with a minimum of 44fps. That's quite smooth, and while 60fps might be ideal, a much stronger system would be necessary to achieve it. Interestingly, again we see HT misfiring on the 3770K, with an average of 69fps and a minimum of 41fps - this is starting to look like a significant deficit indeed.
One additional note: we actually tested four different maps - Caspian Border, Firestorm, Kharg Island, and Gulf of Oman - and we found Caspian Border to have by far the lowest average frames per second of the four maps, so we present the data from that map as an illustration of the most demanding CPU load possible in the game (although minimums were slightly lower in Gulf of Oman).
So with the behemoth that is Battlefield 3 out of the way, this story is over, right? No other game could possibly be as demanding...or could it?