In week or so since it came out, Total War: Three Kingdoms has enjoyed the best launch yet for a Total War game. Creative Assembly has said it's already smashed through 1 million sales on Steam. It's well deserved, as you can find out in our TW: Three Kingdoms review. Three Kingdoms: Total War can be a very demanding game though, especially when it comes to the CPU. Your processor is tasked with handling large troop numbers, strategic battles, and AI turns.

But what sort of CPU do you actually need to run Total War: Three Kingdoms? In our new benchmark tests, we've taken a look at the performance impact of core count and how well TW3K scales to multiple cores.

Total War: Three Kingdoms benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on GeForce RTX 2060 6GB | Intel i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz | 16GB DDR4

Following our GPU benchmarks yesterday, today we're looking at the impact CPU core count has on Total War: 3K's performance. The processor we're using is the 6-core/12-thread Intel Core i7-5820K, running at an overclocked speed of 4.4 GHz (versus 3.3 GHz at stock speeds). We used the official TW:3K benchmark tool for these tests, with an additional CPU core (two threads) disabled for each Three Kingdoms benchmark. Each benchmark test was run on the Low graphics preset in order to best stress test the processor.

Total War: Three Kingdoms CPU 2-Core, 3-Core, 4-Core, 5-Core & 6-Core Benchmarks

(Click to Expand)


  720p 1080p 1440p 4K
1C/2T 55.5 55 54.1 51.4
2C/4T 124.3 121.4 115.7 81.5
3C/6T 152.6 148.1 134.1 82.2
4C/8T 188.1 180.5 149.9 82.7
5C/10T 208.7 202 155.2 82.6
6C/12T 222.9 214.2 157.8 82.6

First things first, there are obviously a ton of variables in these results. Core counts and clock speeds don't necessarily translate to similar performance between different architectures and across different brands. This is just a look at guideline performance then, and how well equipped Total War: Three Kingdoms is in terms of scaling performance to high-thread counts, as well as the performance hit you can expect to see on low core count processors.

As you can see, at 4K the RTX 2060 is clearly the bottleneck in this scenario. Performance is almost identical at 4K regardless of the core count. The only result which stands out here is the 1C/2T benchmark which is evidently the CPU bottlenecking. Running Three Kingdoms on a dual-thread processor cripples potential performance and would certainly not be recommended.

Outside of this, we see TW: 3 Kingdoms scales very well to multiple CPU cores, particularly at lower resolutions where the GPU becomes less of a factor. Overall gains as we shift up the cores are fairly regular, indicating Total War: 3K is well-suited to using whatever CPU horsepower you can throw at it.

Total War: Three Kingdoms 'Unit Size' comparison, gameplay effect and FPS benchmarks

Total War: Three Kingdoms Most Important Graphics Options - Every Setting Benchmarked