Intel’s Head of Performance Strategist Ryan Shrout has published a very interesting article in his medium account. He tested the Intel Core i9-9900K at 1080p in four, six and eight-core modes in an attempt to analyze kernel scaling for PC games. Based on the results, he claims a number of things. Perhaps the most interesting claims are that adding extra cores does not improve performance and “8 cores is the perfect place for performance scaling in modern PC games”. Publishing this just before AMD releases its first 16-Core gaming CPU in the Ryzen 9 3950X seems to be a sorry attempt to reduce competition.
Using an Intel i9-9900K, Shrout tested it in 4, 6 and 8 core configurations and locked it to 4GHz. Among the six games tested, there is a 20-30% higher performance in 1080p frames. However, the switch to eight cores does not show much improvement at all. He also tested i9-9980XE for similar results. To say that testing is unsurpassed would be an understatement. To come to a conclusion without even bothering to test Ryzen 3000 processors is quite an oversight.
In addition, Intel has marketed its flagship processors primarily for streaming. So, Shrut’s argument that cores don’t improve performance has even less important when it comes to their own company’s offerings. Not to mention that because the Ryzen processors are significantly cheaper, they only surpass Intel’s offerings in price-to-performance.
Intel’s latest flagship, 9900KS runs at 5GHz on all cores. According to Shrut’s results, this would mean that KS outperforms all other market results, right? Tests and benchmarks say something different. In fact, there is hardly any difference. It is technically the fastest game processor, which plays no role in games or other tasks. While he makes a valid point that frequency and IPC are important factors in today’s game, Comet-Lake processors are proof that iterating the same architecture over a four-year period and increasing subsequent clock speeds does not mean better performance.
With the gaming industry driving 4K and higher resolutions, the CPU’s power is slowly decreasing. For the most part, gaming performance is GPU-intensive. You can choose a cheap CPU with a decent GPU, and there will be no significant difference in most games. In addition, with testing limited to 1080p, there are hardly any conclusions to be made and it is disappointing to see Intel’s Chief Performance Strategist trying to downplay the competition in such a stupid way. If Intel had been more focused on new technology it might not have to resort to such methods.
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