What Does DirectCompute Really Mean For Gamers?

Benchmark Results: Civilization 5

Lastly, we wanted to use Civilization 5 to confirm our observations with the Radeon 5870 card, although first on deck is our Radeon HD 7970 flagship.

Once more, we see the FX chip unlocking performance on AMD's fastest single-GPU graphics card that simply isn't available from the A8's four cores.

Under the higher-end processor, rendering with the addition of DirectCompute takes a 23% toll on frame rates, while with the A8-3850, the impact is only 17%. Overall, the FX gives a 41% boost to average frame speeds.

Switching our A8 config over to the Radeon HD 5870, we see DirectCompute rendering smack 19% off of our average frame rates. More significantly, compared to the Radeon HD 7970, rendering performance is cut in half. Unlike other GPGPU implementations we’ve seen in the past, where simply having support for a new technology was sufficient to get most of the benefits, the performance scaling we see under Civilization 5 plainly reveals that the more you pay, the more you get. No doubt, the hardware vendors are pleased by this.

Despite Civilization 5's allure as an entertaining game, the title does not (nor should it) aspire to photo-realism. It uses DirectX 11 as a means to achieve better performance, not crank out more lifelike visuals, and that's why it's able to churn out frame rates in excess of 500 FPS on our top-end system.

That's also why we see 85 FPS at 1920x1080 using our APU. We're happy to see this because it drives home the point that not every DirectX 11-enabled game is a performance hog trying to push the boundaries of graphics technology. An entry-level APU really can be suitable for mainstream users whose wants are more modest than the typical enthusiast.

And the composite view. Again, there are no surprises. The strength of a potent GPU looks to be the most influential factor in regular and DirectCompute-assisted rendering.

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