Following on from the first CPU performance testing we did on Far Cry 4, this time we're focusing on a title that's more CPU heavy in terms of its system requirements. Shadow of Mordor fits the bill nicely; an open world game with lots of detailed textures and roaming enemies with unique AI to keep track of. The backdrops can be beautiful and amazing to look at at times and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor has huge CPU requirements.
For those who didn't see the last piece, the tests revolve around taking an AMD FX-8350 and then underclocking by lowering the core count and core frequency. This time around I will be looking at a slightly different set of CPU configurations to see how much impact they each have on Shadow of Mordor's Frame Per Second rates and where the processor bottleneck begins to happen on each different configuration.
Each CPU was tested two times at two minute benchmarks. All of the benchmarks were done using a GTX 970, and just like last time, I used my FX-8350, and then underclocked and disabled cores to match the Phenom II X4 965 (supposed minimum required CPU), Athlon X4 730, and since this game can run using dual cores I used an Athlon X2 7750, which is well below the minimum requirements. These benchmarks were done using the Very High graphics preset, with High Texture Quality and FXAA enabled.
For your reference the Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor system requirements can be found here, on its GD game page.
Shadow of Mordor CPU FPS Results
FX-8350 - Min FPS: 71 | Max FPS: 101 | Avg FPS: 91
Phenom II X4 965 - Min FPS: 57 | Max FPS: 100 | Avg FPS: 79
Athlon X4 730 - Min FPS: 51 | Max FPS: 95 | Avg FPS: 71
Athlon X2 7750 - Min FPS: 24 | Max FPS: 48 | Avg FPS: 32
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Bottlenecking Results
Dead Uruks and Caragor pile mountain high by the time my benchmarking ended. I have to say, I forgot just how much fun this game can be, there's a reason why Shadow of Mordor was Game of The Year 2014 in our Global Game Awards. It'ss equally a surprise at just how well it runs. GPU usage never reached 100%, and the game ran flawlessly, up until the bottlenecking began.
Running Shadow of Mordor with the Phenom II x4 965 showed a lowering of frame rates compared to the FX-8350, but as there was no in game stuttering, it still produced a smooth gameplay experience. Therefore the 965 bottlenecking is considered negligible in relation to the Shadow of Mordor experience. The CPU bottlenecking didn't show its lower frame rates until I ran the Athlon X4 730, which saw a sizeable dip. Even then, the game was still playable, whereas the Athlon X2 7750 certainly started to feel the strain and got in the way of the GTX 970 from being able to do its job. Minimum frame rates of 24 were definitely a little choppy, with the CPU limiting performance to roughly 1/3 of the system's potential.
An interesting sidenote is that the recommended requirements for the AMD CPU is an FX-8350, which has 8 cores. During the tests it was clearly visible that Shadow of Mordor only uses 6 cores at any one time effectively.
There's a definite trend cropping up here in the CPU requirements. Based off of this benchmark and the previous CPU benchmark, the minimum CPU requirements are chosen so as not to have a bottleneck occur with the recommended GPU requirements in that particular game! This of course adds even more confusion as to just how well your rig could perform just by looking at the requirements alone. More testing then, right? Our hunt for the right CPU bottlenecking PC game solution continues.
Cheers for your feedback on the previous Far Cry 4 CPU bottlenecking article, keep your eyes peeled for more!