For the past few weeks we've been busy benchmarking two CPUs in over 30 games: AMD's Ryzen 5 2600 and Intel's Core i5-8400. Before we get into the benchmark results -- and I promise there’s a boatload of them -- here are a few quick notes on the test setup.
The Core i5-8400 rig features the MSI B360 Gaming Plus, a high quality B360 board that has no trouble getting the most out of the hexa-core CPU. Of course, we are limited to DDR4-2666 on this board, but we’ve gone with G.Skill’s high quality and very low latency FlareX CL14 memory. Cooling the i5-8400 is Intel's stock unit.
Then for the Ryzen 5 2600 we used the Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero and we have two configurations: a stock out of the box configuration using the Wraith Stealth box cooler and G.Skill FlareX CL14 memory clocked at 2933 MHz. And a second test setup, running with a 4.2 GHz all-core overclock using aggressively-tuned G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 memory with tightened sub timings. Here the cooler was upgraded to the Corsair H115i Pro.
For testing we have 36 games on the menu. Each game has been tested at 720p, 1080p and 1440p resolutions using the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. I would have liked to include the Vega 64 Liquid as well, but considering we had already ran 324 individual tests, three times each... almost 1,000 benchmark runs later, we weren't super keen to make that 2,000. For now let's just focus on the CPU comparison and let the 1080 Ti work on the backdrop, so grab a drink, some snacks and get comfortable. Let’s get into it.
ARK: Survival Evolved, ARMA 3, Ashes of the Singularity, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield 1
First up we have ARK: Survival Evolved and this isn’t a title I often test but due to popular request it’s been included in the slue of games tested. It’s often listed in the top 10 most played games on Steam so I imagine there’s a few of you keen to see the results.
I was expecting this one to go poorly for Ryzen but the results are very surprising. We’re mostly GPU bound though at 720p we do see Ryzen edging ahead. Still due to the GPU limits the overclocked Ryzen 5 2600 was no faster than the stock configuration.
Another game that’s quite popular on Steam and always heavily requested is ARMA 3. In the past this game has run horribly on AMD processors, including Ryzen but I’ve been told the games been updated recently to better utilize the Ryzen CPUs, or at least CPUs with more than a single core and that certainly appears to be the case.
Out of the box the Ryzen 5 2600 had no trouble matching the Core i5-8400 and the games clearly CPU limited, as the overclocked 2600 offered impressive gains.
Even at 1440p we saw a massive 20% increase in performance when overclocking Ryzen’s cores and memory. This meant the 2600 was now 19% faster than the Core i5-8400 when comparing the average frame rate. I’m quite shocked by these results given how poorly Ryzen performed last time I tested with ARMA 3.
Come on you knew Ashes of the Benchmark was going to be included and it’s about the only game that supports DX12, that I’ve tested using DX12, with a GeForce graphics card. Here we see that the Core i5-8400 and Ryzen 5 2600 are very evenly matched out of the box. Testing at 1080p and 1440p does see us primary GPU bound with the ‘crazy’ preset enabled so overclocking Ryzen isn’t hugely beneficial. At 1440p just a 5% increase is seen, then 7% at 1080p and then a reasonably impressive 11% at 720p.
Okay so some interesting results in Assassin’s Creed Origins, let’s talk about what’s going on here. You'll notice that the stock Ryzen 5 2600 allows for the exact same performance at 1080p that it does at 720p and this is because we’re CPU limited. Overclocking solves this and at 1080p we see 2600 able to match the 8400, however both CPUs are now GPU limited. We know this because at 720p the overclocked 2600 is able to pull ahead of the 8400 by a noteworthy margin for the average frame rate.
Then finally at 1440p we’re almost entirely GPU bound though the stock Ryzen 5 2600 configuration does still struggle to max out the GTX 1080 Ti.
Testing with Battlefield 1 shows just how good the Core i5-8400 is, out of the box with no messing around it delivers very strong performance in this demanding title. The Ryzen 5 2600 is also very respectable and while it was only 6% slower for the frame time result at 1080p, the average frame rate was 12% lower. That margin is somewhat nullified at 1440p as we become heavily GPU bound, though it is interesting to note that overclocked even at this resolution the 2600 provides a much better 1% low result.
Then at the lower resolutions we see that overclocking the 2600 improves the average frame rate by almost 20% and while that is an impressive gain it does only make the tuned Ryzen processor a few percent faster than the Core i5-8400. But again it’s the 1440p results that are the most impressive, here the 2600 was 18% faster than the 8400 for the frame time result.