While testing different processors with Call of Duty: Black Ops, it became apparent that quad-core processors offered considerably better performance. Before we show you the results, here’s a quick CPU utilization screenshot.
Call of Duty: Black Ops can take advantage of four cores and is undoubtedly optimized for the current crop of chips. In fact, the game relies so heavily on all four cores that we found it almost unplayable (OK, that may be exaggerating a bit) on even the fastest dual-core CPU. That said, AMD's triple-core Athlon II and Phenom II processors did provide lag free performance.
Although it is a CPU bound game, Black Ops doesn't rely on a processor's L3 cache to perform at its best. The quad-core Athlon II processor X4 645 was just 6fps slower than the hexa-core Phenom II X6. Moreover, six cores are a waste in this game and the Phenom II X4 970 proved that added frequency is more valuable.
Something that’s immediately apparent when looking at the above graph is the fact that the Core i5 and i7 processors are far superior to anything else we tested. For example, when paired with the Radeon HD 5970, the Core i5 750 was a staggering 29% faster than the Phenom II X4 970, which we might add is clocked 32% more aggressively.
The Core i3 540 on the other hand crashed and burned, with just 42fps on average, making it surprisingly slower than the Core 2 Duo E8500. Clearly, Hyper-Threading technology was of little help here.