With the recent unofficial update from ASUS that adds support for the Smart Access Memory tech on Intel Z490 motherboards, a Japanese website decided to test the feature out with some benchmarks running some of the latest games on an Intel processor. Is SAM support worth it then? Let’s check it out...
AMD’s Smart Access Memory is interesting to say the least, and promises to increase performance - albeit, by a small amount - at the flick of a button. That’s still impressive even if it’s not a lot of performance gains, but still worth it nonetheless.
For now though, the tech is somewhat limited to the latest hardware, currently requiring the Ryzen 5000 series of processors paired with a Radeon RX 6000 graphics card on an AMD 500 series motherboard. Unless you download one of the few unofficial patches available from manufacturers, you will need a combination of this hardware to use the new technology.
Okay, okay, let’s get on with it then. We’ve talked about the semi-boring stuff now let’s get into the nitty-gritty juicy stuff that we’re all waiting for: actual benchmark results.
AMD claims you can experience a slight increase in performance when enabling Smart Access Memory. Their own benchmark results show an improvement of anywhere from 5% up to 13% in recent games like World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Resident Evil 3 Remake, Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, Assassins Creed: Valhalla, and Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation when settings are set to 4K resolution at the max graphics settings.
First of all, the Japanese site tested Smart Access Memory performance across a range of games including Assassins Creed Valhalla, Forza Horizon 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Rainbow Six: Siege. All tests were carried out using the highest graphics settings available in-game at 1080p, and in the case of Forza Horizon 4, at 1440p as well.
Assassins Creed Valhalla
First up is Assassins Creed Valhalla, which shows a slight increase in performance all round with both minimum and average frame rates increasing by 11fps and 17fps respectively. This test was also conducted using the DirectX12 API.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Next up is Red Dead Redemption 2 which saw a significant increase in minimum frame rates when enabling the Smart Access Memory feature. Whilst average FPS did not budge up by much (roughly 9fps increase), minimum FPS jumped from 33.61 to a massive 94.65.
Rainbow Six: Siege
R6 Siege also saw an increase in FPS when enabling Smart Access Memory, however once again it was not by much. Minimum FPS was the most affected here again at a 33fps increase, but when your frame rates are already at 279 an increase of 33fps is not a whole lot unless you’re playing competitively on a high refresh rate monitor. But at least it shows that the tech does, at the very least, improve frame rates by a small amount.
Forza Horizon 4
Finally we have Forza Horizon 4, which the site interestingly chose to be the only game to test at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. Either way, the results are still interesting, and shows that Smart Access Memory helps increase average frame rates at higher resolutions over 1080p.
Additionally, it’s clear that the Japanese site used the in-game benchmarking tool as the results include the GPU minimum, average, and maximum frame rates which is different from your normal average frame rates: which takes into account the CPU minimum, average, and maximum as well. This is why the average frame rates are lower than the average GPU FPS.
Whilst it would be interesting to see how the CPU frame rates are affected (since Smart Access Memory directly affects the processor) it’s also interesting to see that the feature actually improves GPU performance as well.
Forza Horizon 4 1080p
At 1080p, Smart Access Memory does not do a whole lot to increase average FPS in Forza Horizon 4; going from 220fps without, to 221fps with it enabled. However, once again it is the minimum FPS that sees the most difference, with average and maximum GPU frame rates also increased significantly.
Forza Horizon 4 1440p
At 1440p, the benefits of enabling Smart Access Memory is more prominent in Forza Horizon 4, as not only do the minimum, average, and maximum GPU frame rates increase, but average FPS also increases from 200fps to 217fps.
Okay so let’s take all those numbers above and turn it into a data table that we can quickly glance at and see the performance improvements clearly:
|Game||Min (SAM off)||Min (SAM on)||% FPS increase||AVG (SAM off)||AVG (SAM on)||% FPS increase|
|Assassins Creed: Valhalla||86||97||12.8%||120||137||14.2%|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||33.61||94.65||181.6%||119.65||128.99||7.8%|
|Rainbow Six: Siege||279||312||11.8%||441||443||0.5%|
|Forza Horizon 4 - 1080p||209.1||251.6||20.3%||220||221||0.5%|
|Forza Horizon 4 - 1440p||181.6||212.4||17%||200||217||8.5%|
It’s clear that Smart Access Memory does make an improvement to frame rates and performance, though not by a large margin in most cases. What is definitely clear though is how much more stable frame rates get with the feature turned on, as minimum frame rates were the ones affected most significantly.
Since the SAM feature does not appear to affect performance negatively in any way, this just seems like a win-win scenario where everyone might as well flick the feature on to see improved performance.
It’s also clear that the benefits are very dependent on which game you are playing, as some games will see better average FPS, whilst others will see better minimum FPS, and some won’t see much of a difference at all.
What do you think? Are you excited for Smart Access Memory? Will you be enabling the feature when it’s available on your hardware? And will this feature influence your decision on buying new hardware? Let us know!