The benchmarks on this page were collected in the latest additions to our game suite, Rise of the Tomb Raider and DOOM, both 2016 titles. We really prefer not to use new games in our benchmarks, as constant patching often leads to the need to re-test midstream, which has in fact happened to us in previous articles using Rise of the Tomb Raider. But we thought it was important to include a few new titles, as they might be more likely to be coded to take advantage of multi-core CPUs.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Well, no surprise here, at least to us. The Tomb Raider series uses an impressive graphics engine that leans entirely on GPUs rather than CPUs. Therefore we see very little variation here, although the 6900K again comes up a little short. Based on this result along with previous results in GPU-limited games, it seems fair to draw the conclusion that the X99 platform does indeed present more overhead versus the Z170 platform, reducing GPU output every so slightly.
We've got to hand it to Bethesda here: DOOM looks pretty darn good given how well it performs, especially compared to the dog that is Fallout 4. And indeed, it appears to be limited to just four cores, as Hyperthreading does not give the 6700K a boost over the 6600K at 4.4GHz. That being said, clock speed does appear to help, so this game is in part CPU-limited. Owners of the Core i5-6600K will want to take note!
Eagle-eyed readers will probably be puzzled by the results generated with the 6900K. And we were too. Something just wasn't right here. Even with an overclock that would put it way ahead of the IPC of a stock 6600K, it was losing. We couldn't take this one sitting down....
And ,indeed, we found the key to the 6900K's poor performance. By disabling four of its cores, we were able to make the 6900K perform just like a quad-core! Ironic that it requires this step to allow the eight-core CPU to keep pace with its $250 and $350 cousins.
Now, if you're familiar with DOOM, you'll know that it runs by default on the ancient OpenGL API, which is clearly unable to make heads or tails of the 6900K's eight cores. But Bethesda likely knows that, and has endowed it with a brand-new API, Vulkan, which like DX12 is lower-level and thus lets developers get closer to the metal. Unfortunately, our framerate recorder of choice, FRAPS, only works with DX11, but using DOOM's built-in monitoring tools, we were able to get a rough approximation of the 6900K's performance with all eight cores beating away at the Vulkan version of DOOM. And the results were nothing less than impressive: 155fps. We couldn't get a minimum framerates from the onboard monitoring, but it seemed pretty consistent to us.
Interestingly, many budget gamers likely believe that DX12 and Vulkan are aimed at them, allowing newer games to run better on cheaper hardware, like dual-core CPUs. We want to caution gamers about this. In fact, we believe that the true promise of these advanced APIs is in harnessing the power of more cores, not weaker cores. In essence, it allows for more complex game engines, not simpler ones. Our hunch is that once DX12 picks up steam, we'll start to see a big benefit in games from Intel's six-, eight-, and ten-core monsters, along with AMD's Zen, rumored to be appearing by mid-2017. Just as Hyperthreading has finally taken a leading role in accelerating performance, the beyond-quad CPUs will hopefully find their footing in the next year or two thanks to the good graces of advanced APIs.