Today I'm going to explain CPU requirements and multi-threaded demands of today's games to clear up some confusion. I keep hearing many people come here and say how they were told they need a quad core to play Skyrim and Battlefield 3 which is totally preposterous. Among other games, this may change but these two were the ones that kept popping up. Keep in mind, some games can utilize 4 cores but it isn't 100%, and no game can utilize more than 4 cores. To clarify, just because you see blips of activity on all of your cores it doesn't mean the game is utilizing it. That is just Windows balancing loads as best it can. To get a bit technical, people confuse core count and GHz (speed) with how fast a CPU really is. The CPU architecture plays the biggest role in its processing power. More cores and more GHz doesn't mean everything. For those of you that remember circa 2002, the Pentium 4 was clipping the 2.5-3GHz range while the AthlonXP chips were stock below 2GHz. Yet, the Athlon chips seemed to excel over these Pentiums simply because their cycles per clock were faster. What is cycles per clock? It is how many instructions can be processed per clock per core. The faster the GHz, the more instructions can be processed. Please do not confuse this with "how many things can be done per core" because it isn't that. Let us continue, today we have the top dogs of AMD FX 8170, the Intel Core i7 3770k, and the Intel Core i7 3960x. The 3770k is of the 1155 (mainstream) platform and based on the 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge core. The Intel Core i7 3960x is of the 2011 (Enthusiast) platform and based on the 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge Extreme core. The AMD FX is of the AM3+ package based on the Family 15h Microarchitecture. Most people want to believe that the 8 core 3.9GHz AMD monster will make the 3.5GHz 4 core 3770k succumb to its will. That is utterly incorrect. Currently, the Bulldozer architecture has comparable performance to the first gen Core i CPUs, or rather the i7 920 era, due to low IPC, slower IMC, slower single threaded performance, and it's module build not being up to par. Actually, due to all of this gaming performance is actually better on the Deneb/Thuban line up (Phenom 2 965/1100t). Because of this they ramp up clocks to try and make up for performance loss, but in single threaded apps the FX processors lack, which would be your games. The Sandy Bridge Architecture is roughly 12-15% faster clock for clock compared to Nehalem, and Ivy Bridge roughly 10-12% faster than Sandy Bridge. Where does this put Bulldozer (FX)? 2 gens behind in performance or roughly 25% slower in games compared to current Intel CPUs. So you're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned SB-E yet. Well, for starters the only affordable CPU in that line up is the 3820 which is bested in games by the SB 2600k. As I mentioned before, more cores doesn't mean more performance. So in literal sense, there is no point in getting a 3930k or 3960x for gaming.....period. Don't let terms like quad channel RAM or "extreme" fool you. They don't make a difference in games. Don't believe me? Look at my sig, I speak with experience. So for now, we can forget this CPU line up since this thread is about gaming. Moving along, the point of this thread is to show you with graphs and non-fancy words why you don't need more cores for current games. It is also to give you people wanting to upgrade a feel of where you stand with your current CPU. To see if you need to upgrade that, or if you simply need more GPU horsepower. My main concern as I mentioned before will be Battlefield 3, and Skyrim. So if you're here looking for benchmarks for other games I hate to disappoint. Besides, these 2 are some of the most demanding and demanded games. If you have a game in question, more than likely you can judge performance based on these graphs. These CPUs I will be testing judging performance will be: Core i7 3960x (2 and 4 core) Core i5 2500k (2 and 4 core) Core i5 750 (2 and 4 core) Core 2 Quad Q8200 AMD AthlonX2 6000+ Unfortunately I currently don't have an i3 from any gen with me at the time but you can guesstimate a gen 1 i3 will be comparable to the 2 core i5 750 benches. I also wish I had a Phenom 2 Quad to throw in there, but the one I "have" is currently sitting in somebodies machine who isn't talking to me. Each CPU will be tested at stock because I feel that most people who need this thread probably wont overclock. I feel that reviewers who overclock their rigs to show game performance in tests like these need to re-evaluate what exactly they are trying to show, and who their target audience is. It isn't like benchmarking to find maximum performance for a new product. Each game will be set to Ultra settings (as always asked for) and at 1920x1200 resolution. Please understand, that by Ultra I mean every in game setting set as high as it can go but I will NOT be using any extra eye candy such as Anti-Aliasing. Base GPU will be an AMD Radeon 5850. So lets get started. In Skyrim I will be recording information from the very beginning of the game. It is the most likely time when everything will be exactly the same. Take note, in Skyrim the most demanding areas will be heavily wooded and areas with a lot of action going on. For example, a dragon fight with many NPC's attacking it with magic. I will also take this time to mention that my copy of Skyrim is heavily modded. The only mods I use are HD texture mods and no story or game modifiers. To be specific, all the extreme options you can get off of STEP which can be found over at Nexus. My copy is about 14GB in size, where your vanilla copy will be between 6 and 7GB just to give you an idea of how large these mods are. With that being said, my copy will tax these CPUs (and more importantly my GPU) more than your copy. I estimate vanilla will be about 15% faster or more than my copy depending on the CPU in question.