Where Broadwell really shines
On the compute side, the Broadwell desktop part can’t hang with the higher clock speeds of the Haswell chip but what happens when the GPU is the primary driver of the task? It’s a different situation.
For reference, I’m going to toss in the brand-new “Godavari” AMD A10-7870K chip. It’s technically a 12-core CPU by AMD’s standards, but that really means it’s a quad-core CPU with eight GPU cores in it. The x86 cores run at 3.9GHz to 4.1GHz, and the integrated Radeon R7 graphics cores buzz along at 866MHz.
While AMD’s x86 performance has been weak sauce these last few years, the graphics performance has rained pain on Intel’s just as badly. The best part of AMD’s Godavari is its price. It’s a chip with a $137 list price, but it’s actually selling for more, at $149. That’s less than half of either Intel CPUs. Some may cry foul at using the Godavari because it’s so much cheaper, but I think it’s fair to put the APU’s graphics performance in context.
Note: I tested the A10-7870K with its RAM set to DDR3/1600 to match the Intel systems and also grabbed the latest Catalyst driver available.
Synthetic gaming performance
First up is the popular 3DMark. This is a great showing for the Core i7-5775C Broadwell chip when compared to the Core i7-4790K Haswell chip and shows just how far Intel has come. In fact, Intel has always said Broadwell was a minor tick in performance on the x86 side, but its graphics performance was a major tock. Helped by the eDRAM in the chip, that seems to be true. Intel has finally caught up with AMD’s integrated graphics performance. Of course, there is that price discrepancy between the AMD and Intel chip to consider.
Firestrike is a little over the true capability of these CPUs so I also ran the easier Sky Driver test. Interestingly, the Core i7-5775C starts to pull away from the AMD A10-7870K in the overall score. That’s likely due to the more efficient Intel cores, boosting its final scores higher.
Enough with the synthetic tests. To see how the integrated graphics would perform in actual games, I threw Code Master’s Dirt Showdown at all three. The result is a huge win for the Broadwell desktop chip. Dirt Showdown actually runs fairly well at 1920x1080 on all three, too. I would never play a first person shooter at 32fps, but in driving games, where you don’t whip around like you do in a shooter, it’s surprisingly tolerable.
Moving on to Irrational Games' BioShock Infinite, a lot of visual quality settings had to be compromised to get to playable framerates. The result is a big win for the Core i7-5775C again. It leaves the AMD APU in the dust, and its sibling is a very distant third. If I were really attempting to play BioShock Infinite on integrated graphics, I’d notch it down to 1366x768 to get the frame rates higher.
The last game I ran was Square ENIX’s Tomb Raider. Like the other games, it shines on the Core i7-5775C chip. At 1920x1080 resolution, the Broadwell chip can even run it at the magical 60+ frames per second. You make a lot of compromises in visual quality, though. I’d personally run it at 1366x768 at normal quality, where the game looks much better and the Broadwell can push 72 fps. The AMD A10-7870K interestingly takes a back seat to even the Core i7-4790K here. That may indicate Tomb Raider's dependence on the x86-side, and the AMD’s chips weaker cores dragging it down a little.
The final graphics test I ran was Luxmark 3.0, a benchmark that measures OpenCL performance. OpenCL is a way to run general computing tasks on a graphics chip. The story is the same: the Core i7-5775C clocks the other two CPUs by a healthy margin.
The actual surprise is the A10-7870K, which loses badly to the Core i7-4790K chip. I didn’t expect the Godavari to ace the Broadwell and its big cache, but losing to the Haswell chip was a surprise.