Are Quad-core CPUs Lastly Useless in 2019?

Today we are discussing quad-core processors, namely how relevant they will be in 2019. The last time we covered this particular topic was in 2017, but since then the discussion about quad-core CPUs has become far less relevant to the simple fact that they exist.No more top-tier CPUs with just four cores .

The most expensive quad core sold today is the Core i3-8350K, and we wrote the thing the day it was released. Currently sold for ~ $ 200, you would be an idiot if you bought it at that price. Then we at AMD have the Ryzen 3 1300X, which you can ignore for the same reason. While the R3 1200 makes more sense at $ 90, we recommend PC manufacturers on a budget the Ryzen 3 2200G at $ 95, which adds a decent integrated graphics solution.

Anyone who buys an affordable Intel CPU should check out the Core i3-8100, though the Ryzen 3 2200G is a much cheaper option at $ 120

More specifically, this article means examining whether it is worth buying these affordable quad cores for gamers or whether they are dead when they arrive. But what does dead mean anyway? For us, this means either new games: a] refusing to load when trying to run with a quad-core CPU, or b] running so badly that the games are not playable.

This first point has not yet occurred. All games known to us are executed and executed on a quad-core processor. As for the second point, it is still fairly rare to find a title that is not playable on a quad core. It may not be the best experience, but it is almost always very playable. You certainly don't want to pay mid-range or high-end money for a 4-core CPU, but as an entry-level gaming option, they're perfectly fine.

In this test, we will examine CPU scaling performance using AMD's Zen-based processors. We still have a few games ahead of us and would like to take a closer look at some different configurations with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Please note that the GPU used for each test and the settings for resolution and quality are marked in the graphics. The Ryzen processors were tested with DDR4-3200 CL14 memory, while the Athlon 200GE used DDR4-2400 CL14 memory.


Starting with Rainbow Six Siege, we have the Ryzen 3 2200G, which is 4-core / 4-thread CPUs, and we see some interesting things here. With 1080p for those looking for high frame rates, the quad-core in this title is still very punchy and enables an average of 183 fps with over 129 fps at all times. A dual core with activated SMT also enabled very playable performance.

While the 2200G was 28% behind the 2700X at 1080p, this value was reduced to only 13% at 1440p and 9% at 4K. Even the Athlon 200GE can offer a similar experience at 4K, although we're certain that not all games will. For example, let's take a look at Project Cars 2 …

Testing with Project Cars 2 shows constant increases in performance when we increase the number of cores. The quad-core R3 2200G continued to deliver playable performance at 1080p and never dropped below 60 fps. With a high-end GPU, however, there is clearly a bottleneck.

We basically see the same scaling at 1440p and only at 4K does the RTX 2080 Ti become the limiting component for most of these configurations. At 4K, only the Dual-Core Athlon 200GE cannot keep up.

We used DX12 to test with Hitman and selected an NPC-heavy scene. These crushed double cores to the point where they were no longer playable and effectively killed them in this title. Then we have the Quad-Core 2200G and it is right on the edge with a 1% low of 33%. However, we see a 70% deviation between the low and average frame rates of 1% on the 2200G, while only a 31% deviation was found on the 2400G that supports SMT. This means the 2200G wasn't that fluid, and it actually did.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is another CPU-demanding title, and here the dual-core Athlon 200GE strives for playable performance. While the 2200G wasn't ideal, it offered playable performance, and we found the 4K resolution to be comparable to the 4-core / 8-thread 2400G, which made it a bit slower than the R5 2600.

We deliberately recorded Forza Horizon 4 because, like many other games, it is not very CPU-intensive. This title plays perfectly on a humble dual core and we can see that here.

The truth is that the vast majority of games aren't very CPU-demanding, especially the popular Esports titles. However, it is extremely challenging when you come across CPU-bound scenarios, which is why gamers talk so much about CPU performance.

A very challenging new title is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Here we find the Quad-Core 2200G right on the edge and again the disparity between the 1% low and the average frame rate is much larger than with the 2400G. Even at 4K resolution, the 2200G severely limits the performance of the RTX 2080 Ti, suggesting that this CPU also limits the performance of GPUs with a much lower price level. Let's examine that …

If you add RTX 2060 and GTX 1060 6 GB to the mix, please note that all GPUs are tested with different resolutions: The 2080 Ti was tested with 4K, the RTX 2060 with 1440p and the 1060 6 GB with 1080p. It is interesting here that the Athlon 200GE and the Ryzen 3 2200G have limited the frame rates across the board.

For this reason, we test CPUs with high-end GPUs to eliminate the GPU as a potential bottleneck. Pairing the 2200G with the 2080 Ti is unrealistic, but it better informs you about the CPU limits and the chances are less. At the end of the GPU, you will still find these limits with appropriately adjusted quality settings. What we see here is that the Athlon 200GE and Ryzen 3 2200G limit performance across the board, and the same goes for the 2400G.

For an additional test, we took the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and rated it 1440p using the lowest, middle, and highest presets, only in the demanding Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The purpose of this test is to further illustrate how difficult it is to address this issue even with multiple hardware configurations.

When using the highest preset quality, the distance between 2700X, 2600X and 2400G is relatively small. The 2200G is good for the average frame rate, but as we've seen several times, it remains at the 1% low. This is of course seen again with the medium quality preset and then exaggerated with the lowest quality preset.

Although we can increase the average frame rate performance of the GTX 1660 Ti with the 2200G by 48% by switching from the default with the highest to the lowest quality, the low performance of 1%, which is strongly CPU-limited, is only increased by 27% improved. With the 2600X and 2700X, we see consistent scaling for both the 1% low and the average frame rate because we are not tied to the CPU for these configurations.

Wrap up

Are quad-core CPUs dead in 2019? It sounds like a simple question, but we don't want to simplify it too much. We all agree that high-end or even mid-range quad-core CPUs, including those with SMT support, are dead, if not the fact that neither AMD nor Intel have been producing them for over a year or sell, but because it can limit performance in a number of modern titles, as we've just seen.

Intel's current mid-range offerings include 6-core / 6-thread parts, while AMDs include 6-core, 12-thread parts. This means that the $ 240 i5-7600,000 for 2017 is a thing of the past, and we think that $ 100 quad cores are perfectly fine for today's market. For those who play with an RX 560, 570, GTX 1050 up to 3 GB 1060, a cheap quad core is just the thing for you.

We recommend aiming for the $ 165 Ryzen 5 2600 if possible. However, we can also understand that spending this extra money is not an option for everyone. In general, those who buy graphics cards worth over $ 300 don't want to pair them with a $ 100 CPU, or at least that's not the norm.

When we get back to the Core i5-7600K for a moment, we find that the quad-core performance in this article doesn't nearly reflect what Intel's quad-core Kaby Lake part of the 7th generation can do. We have seen in the past that the 7600K wastes the 2200G but costs twice as much, so no surprises. Even then, there are titles like Battlefield V where the 7600K starts to fight. Although strong overclocking and decent memory should still be enough to get you out of real trouble for now.

Not all quad cores are the same, some can be overclocked to ~ 5 GHz, offer high IPC and low latency. Others operate at much more modest clock speeds and may not support the same memory bandwidth, latency, etc.

As for the games and quality settings, if you happen to be playing mainly non-CPU-intensive titles like Forza Horizon 4, Ghost Recon Wildlands, DiRT 4, Fortnite, For Honor, World of Tanks – probably also Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2.0 and Apex Legends the look of our early tests – a modern quad-core with a mid-range GPU will work well.

However, if you play games like Battlefield Multiplayer, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a mid-to-low-priced quad-core CPU like the Ryzen 3 2200G will struggle or operate at a level of performance a little less than desirable.

The bottom line is that quad cores are perfectly fine as entry-level parts, and luckily they are only sold as such today. In the middle and beyond, you could argue that they are already "dead", and ideally you want at least a 6-core / 12-thread CPU, possibly for the next few years.

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