Question Planned to upgrade my i7-4790K...surprised about today's CPU performance

Sep 5, 2020
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Hi everyone,

first off apologies for creating a second thread just after creating an account, I hope I can give back some wisdom at some point :(.

I'm a very passionate gamer who now wants to upgrade in order to play Cyberpunk and Vampire: Bloodlines 2 in high quality and with as little fan noise as possible to fully immerse myself. For that, I will definitely get my hands on an Nvidia RTX 3080 and am now planning to upgrade the rest of my system along with it. Cyberpunk obviously sets the deadline for this plan.

Current specs:
CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4.00GHz
Motherboard: Asus Z97-K
Ram: 16GB
SSD/HDD: Samsung 860 QVO 2TB SSD, Samsung HD103UJ 2TB HDD, WDC WD20EARX-008FB0 1TB
GPU: Gainward RTX 2060 SUPER Ghost
PSU: Be Quiet! 630W
OS: Win10

Budget: I have no limitations at all - but it should be a reasonable purchase. So while I could buy some overspecced 1000€ CPU, I certainly wouldn't do that if that means I have 2fps more compared to a 3700x ;). I'd say the 400-500$ range is realistic though I don't mind going lower if the gaming performance doesn't decrease significantly.
Usage: 100% gaming. I also play guitar through my computer with Bias FX which is very CPU-demanding to generate the tone fast, but I assume that goes along with the gaming requirements.

I already decided to buy a Fractal Meshify C ATX case to improve the airflow of my system as recommended in this forum, so along with that I am naturally considering to also go with a new Motherboard+CPU+Ram combo as well as I already have to assemble everything anew anyway.

Searching through this forum and watching some benchmark and comparison videos, I was honestly shocked how little progress there seems to have been since I purchased my CPU. The most generous benchmark tests seem to give even the 3900x and the i9 10th generation only an edge of 40% at most compared to my 4790K from the stone age, others barely show any difference. The ghz also don't seem to have increased much and the CPUs only have more cores which apparently aren't used much by games nowadays. I'm currently playing Greedfall which is already at 90-100% usage of all cores even in high settings while my GPU is only at 70-80% - ultra settings already have visible frame drops. Either that game is just programmed badly or I'm missing something.

So I'm wondering if there's more to the new CPUs that I am missing or if an upgrade really doesn't seem to be worth it much. Of course, I'd also get faster RAM along with it due to the new motherboard, but I'm not sure how much of a difference that makes. It looks like I could even get an 3700x without losing much regarding gaming at all compared to let's say a 3900xt, so even budget doesn't seem to matter much in gaming nowadays...on the other hand, games for the next generation of consoles of course could make use of more cores and all of a sudden the "non-improvement" becomes significant. I don't know how realistic that is...

If it wasn't for my greed to play Cyberpunk, I'd probably just wait until the next announcements are made. But as I will probably have to stock up on Ram anyway I have a tendency to upgrade the system along, and I'd like to upgrade now if at all so that I don't fall into the window where everything is out of stock.

Any opinions and/or clarifications that could help me?

Thanks!
 
If gaming is what you want then that new tiger lake CPU from Intel should be what you want. Get a minimum of 16 GB of RAM it’s better if you go with 32 and get a very good video card and get Samsung SSD’s nvme type

If it were me I would get the 3700 X or better up to a 3950 X
 
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Reactions: Nemesia
Same. I'd get a 3700X and get a 4000 series later or just a 3900X(T)/3950X rigtht now and call it quit. It's not like games will need over 24/36 threads anytime soon. Or an Intel latest CPU. It's all good anyway.

Next you just need that 3080 and you're set for years to come.

3600MHz RAM CL16.

Btw I love my 3900X. Came from a 4770k. The difference is night and day.
 
Reactions: Mandark
Sep 5, 2020
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Thanks guys!

If gaming is what you want then that new tiger lake CPU from Intel should be what you want.
It sounds to me like tiger lake is something just for mobile CPUs? Am I missing something?

Btw I love my 3900X. Came from a 4770k. The difference is night and day.
That's nice to hear as benchmarks seem a bit less convincing regarding that topic. Especially since I can theoretically overclock to up to 5ghz apparently, which sounds like it's even more than the current gen...still only 4 cores of course, but I don't even know how much games utilize more than that...it's all highly confusing.

I'd get a 3700X and get a 4000 series later
Wait for Zen 3 and the first few patches for Cyberpunk
I suppose there is still no news apart from "sometime 2020" when the Zen3 will be released though, right? I doubt upgrading from a 3700X to a 4000 series will be really worth it unfortunately, then again if they release it after the very game I want to be able to enjoy with it it would suck :S. Maybe I'll hold off a bit longer with buying it in case there will be some more news in the coming weeks. Still a bit scared to go with the 3900X as I don't want to experience the same situation as people who just bought 20xx series Nvidia cards :S.
 
Thanks guys!



It sounds to me like tiger lake is something just for mobile CPUs? Am I missing something?



That's nice to hear as benchmarks seem a bit less convincing regarding that topic. Especially since I can theoretically overclock to up to 5ghz apparently, which sounds like it's even more than the current gen...still only 4 cores of course, but I don't even know how much games utilize more than that...it's all highly confusing.




I suppose there is still no news apart from "sometime 2020" when the Zen3 will be released though, right? I doubt upgrading from a 3700X to a 4000 series will be really worth it unfortunately, then again if they release it after the very game I want to be able to enjoy with it it would suck :S. Maybe I'll hold off a bit longer with buying it in case there will be some more news in the coming weeks. Still a bit scared to go with the 3900X as I don't want to experience the same situation as people who just bought 20xx series Nvidia cards :S.
A CPU isn't a GPU tho. The 3900X 12 cores 24 threads will be good for years to come. Warzone can utilize 12 threads and this is nuts. It will take a lot of time before games start using close to 24 threads. If you don't mind losing a small performance in your games but you would rather have more cores and threads for the future get the 3900X and just don't think about upgrading your CPU for the next few years. Or you take that Intel CPU and it's the same thing. A little bit better in games.

The GPU is what is important here. The 3900X or the 3700X won't have any problems pushing fps to that GPU.
 
Some games are graphics limited like fast action shooters.
Others are cpu core speed limited like strategy, sims, and mmo.
Multiplayer tends to like many threads.

It is worthwhile to find out which.
------------------------------------------------------------
To help clarify your CPU/GPU options, run these two tests:

a) Run YOUR games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
This makes the graphics card loaf a bit.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
A 3080 would serve you well.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely more cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.
Conversely what a 30% improvement in core speed might do.
The intel 10th gen processors like the i3-10600K, i7-10700K and I9-10900K will all run near 5,0
with a decent cooler. Ryzen does not oc well, topping out around 4.5.


You should also experiment with removing one or more cores/threads. You can do this in the windows msconfig boot advanced options option.
You will need to reboot for the change to take effect. Set the number of threads to less than you have.
This will tell you how sensitive your games are to the benefits of many threads.
If you see little difference, your game does not need all the threads you have.

The value of this experiment is to see how many threads you can usefully use.
The i3-10600K has 12, the i7-10799K has 16, and the i9-10900K has 20,
Unless you play multiplayer with many participants, it is hard to usefully occupy more than 4-6 threads.

I am impressed with the i3-10600K for gaming.
Here is a review:
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5-10600k-cpu-review

It shows up well even against the i9-10900K.
 
Sep 5, 2020
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Thank you so much for the thorough responses (y)

A CPU isn't a GPU tho. The 3900X 12 cores 24 threads will be good for years to come. Warzone can utilize 12 threads and this is nuts. It will take a lot of time before games start using close to 24 threads.
That is actually one of the things I was wondering about - even if Intel is ahead in current games and I run the tests as suggested by geofelt, isn't it possible that the game design changes e.g. due to the new console generation and that the performance lead actually switches? As the Xbox X for example will run with an AMD processor with 16 threads and afaik below 4ghz, won't the games most likely utilize more threads in the future rather than rely on more ghz? Sounds to me like it's possible that the lead changes if the games are designed differently.

In any case, lots of stuff to think about, thanks again. Really enjoying getting more into the Hardware world.
 
There is a difference between "using" many threads and "effectively using" many threads.
In any multiprocessing app one needs to be able to divide up processing into separate units of work.
Then, there will need to be a master thread that coordinates all of that.
As you add more processes, the performance of the master thread will, itself become the limiting factor.
Read up on "amdahal's law" for the theoretical underpinnings.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amdahl's_law

You may well see activity in task manager on all threads.
That does not mean that you are usefully using all threads.
Windows will spread the activity of a single thread over all available threads.
So, if you had a game that was single threaded and cpu bound, it would show up on a quad core processor as 25%
utilization across all 4 threads.
leading you to think your bottleneck was elsewhere.
It turns our that few games can USEFULLY use more than 4-6 threads.

Here is an older study that examines how many threads can be useful:

No doubt that newer games can be designed to do better.
But, game developers want the largest possible market for their games.
They will not willingly require a 16 threaded processor to run their games.
To my knowledge, 4 threads is required to run only few games.
 

alexbirdie

Proper
Feb 20, 2020
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..........

You may well see activity in task manager on all threads.
That does not mean that you are usefully using all threads.
Windows will spread the activity of a single thread over all available threads.
So, if you had a game that was single threaded and cpu bound, it would show up on a quad core processor as 25%
utilization across all 4 threads.
leading you to think your bottleneck was elsewhere.
It turns our that few games can USEFULLY use more than 4-6 threads.

.......
I would suppose, you mean following:

You may well see activity in task manager on all CORES.
That does not mean that you are usefully using all CORES.
Windows will spread the activity of a single thread over all available CORES.
So, if you had a game that was single threaded and cpu bound, it would show up on a quad core processor as 25% utilization across all 4 CORES.
leading you to think your bottleneck was elsewhere.
It turns our that few games can USEFULLY use more than 4-6 CORES. <----------- but double as many threads.

If you are in doubt, I can explain very exactly the difference between core and thread, how multithreading ist working, when it is useful, disadvantages of too many threads and so on, because I was developping such programs for years. But it will not belong to this thread. Now I am retired.
 
The distinction between cores and threads is changing.
In practice, windows dispatches threads.
Windows will have knowledge of the cpu architecture and may use that to change how it dispatches threads.
I tend to use them interchangeably which is probably not totally accurate.
 

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