The addition of low-power E-cores to Intel’s consumer CPUs has been questioned by many. Gaming workloads, in particular, don’t see much of an uplift with these efficiency cores. Diablo 4 is the latest title to demonstrate this. Quasar Zone tested Blizzard’s latest game with various configurations of the Core i9-13900K and made some interesting observations:
First off, the fastest configuration involves eight P-cores and one E-core (hyperthreading disabled), followed by eight P-cores and two E-cores (HT disabled). The game nets 344 FPS and 342 FPS in these cases, respectively. The performance drops as each additional E-core is enabled. With all of them up and running, the average FPS dropped to 310.
Running only P-cores produces the expected results. The game is the fastest with all the cores turned out but hyperthreading disabled. This setting nets 328 FPS, which drops to 303 FPS with HT switched on. This is known behavior as modern titles prefer cache over logical threads after a certain point (6-8 cores).
Intel’s hybrid core CPUs were introduced with Alder Lake roughly two years back. We’ll soon see the chipmaker’s third heterogeneous family launch, but game developers still ignore these low-power resources in most scenarios. AMD’s one ISA strategy is looking more and more practical with each passing cycle.