Civilization V

A game that has plagued my testing over the past twelve months is Civilization V.  Being on the older 12.3 Catalyst drivers were somewhat of a nightmare, giving no scaling, and as a result I dropped it from my test suite after only a couple of reviews.  With the later drivers used for this review, the situation has improved but only slightly, as you will see below.  Civilization V seems to run into a scaling bottleneck very early on, and any additional GPU allocation only causes worse performance.

Our Civilization V testing uses Ryan’s GPU benchmark test all wrapped up in a neat batch file.  We test at 1440p, and report the average frame rate of a 5 minute test.

One 7970

Civilization V - One 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Civ5 seems to love IPC, with our Haswell and Ivy-E CPUs all near the top.  All our PCIe 3.0 combinations hit 80 FPS or above. 

Two 7970s

Civilization V - Two 7970s, 1440p, Max Settings

On multiple AMD GPUs the PCIe 3.0 combiantions get the biggest boost, along with anything using a PLX or NF200 chip to boost lane allocations.  There seems to be a barrier around 100-108 FPS that only Haswell and Ivy Bridge CPUs are moving over, except the one 990X result.  The i7-4960X takes top spot, and the i7-920 is 45 FPS behind - almost 1/3.  The i5-4430 is lower than expected, showing little scaling after the first GPU.

Three 7970s

Civilization V - Three 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Civ5 has terrible scaling behond one GPU let alone two, meaning most of our tri-GPU results are similar to dual GPU.  Again, anything purely PCIe 3.0 seems to get the biggest boost, with the 4670K still fighting alongside the 4770K.

One 580

Civilization V - One 580, 1440p, Max Settings

For a single GTX 580 the top spots above 80 FPS are all on the side of Sandy Bridge and above, with Nehalem scoring below this marker.  It seems that dual core CPUs take a bashing, suggesting a quad core minimum.

Two 580s

Civilization V - Two 580s, 1440p, Max Settings

More NVIDIA GPUs for Civ5 means more cores and more lanes where possible, with the i7-4960X taking the top spot.  This is almost 40 FPS higher than the i5-4430 and the Nehalem CPUs.  The 4670K doesn't miss a beat against the i7-4770K.

Civilization V Conclusion

We see some of our biggest variations in CPU performance in Civilization V, where it is clear that a modern Intel processor (Ivy/Haswell), at least quad core, is needed to get the job done for the higher frame rates.  Arguably any high-end AMD processor will perform >60 FPS in our testing here as well, perhaps making the point moot.  For single CPU, the i5-4430 performs well in Civ5, though in dual GPU the i5-4670K might be a better investment.

GPU Benchmarks: Dirt 3 GPU Benchmarks: Sleeping Dogs
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  • tim851 - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    You know, once you go Quad-GPU, you're spending so much money already that not going with Ivy Bridge-E seems stupid.

    In the same vein I'd argue that a person buying 2 high end graphics cards should just pay 100 bucks more to get the 4770K and some peace of mind.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    I'd gladly take a IVB-E, even hex core, but that damned X79 makes me throw up when I just think about spending that much on a platform. :/ Reply
  • von Krupp - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    It's not that bad. I picked up an X79 ASRock Extreme6 for $220, which is around what you'll pay for the good Z68/Z77 boards and I still got all of the X79 features. Reply
  • cpupro - Sunday, October 06, 2013 - link

    "I'd gladly take a IVB-E, even hex core, but that damned X79 makes me throw up when I just
    think about spending that much on a platform. :/"

    And be screwed.

    "von Krupp - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link
    It's not that bad. I picked up an X79 ASRock Extreme6 for $220, which is around what you'll pay
    for the good Z68/Z77 boards and I still got all of the X79 features."

    Tell that to owners of original not so cheap Intel motherboards, DX79SI. They need to buy new motherboard for IVB-E cpu, no UEFI update like other manufacturers.
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    Not if they actually bought one when it was more expensive then waited until these long cycles allowed you to go and buy a second one on the cheap (ie., 670 when they were $400, then another when they were $250). Reply
  • althaz - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    Except that you might need the two or four graphics cards to get good enough performance, whereas there's often no real performance benefit to more than four cores (for gaming).

    Take Starcraft 2, a game which can bring any CPU to its knees, the game is run on one core, with AI and some other stuff offloaded to a second core. This is a fairly common way for games to work as it's easier to make them this way.
    Reply
  • Jon Tseng - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    <sigh> it was so much easier back in the day when you could just overclock a Q6600 and job done. :-p Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    You can still do the same thing today with the 3/4930k.

    Back in the day the Q6600 was basically the 2nd tier HEDT SKU, much like the 4930k is today, perhaps even higher considering the $851 launch price.
    Reply
  • rygaroo - Thursday, October 03, 2013 - link

    I still run an O.C. Q6600 :) but my GPU just died (8800GTS 512MB). Do you suspect that the lack of fps on Civ V for the Q9400 is due more to the motherboard limitations of PCIE 1.1 or more caused by the shortcomings of an old architecture? I don't want to spend a lot of money on a new high end GPU if my Q6600 would be crippling it... but my mobo has PCIE 2.0 x16 so it's not a real apples to apples comparison w/ the shown Q9400 results. Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Friday, October 04, 2013 - link

    I tested for that in the FFIV benchmark.

    Had PrecisionX running and logging stuff in the background while I ran the benchmark. Turned out the biggest FPS drops coincided with the lowest GPU utilization, and that pretty much nailed the fact that my Q6600 @ 3.0 was severely bottlenecking the game.

    Tried it again with CPU-Z, and indeed the FPS drops aligned with high CPU usage.
    Reply

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