Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review

CPU Performance - Is Three Kingdoms a Total CPU Hog?

Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review

CPU Performance - Is Three Kingdoms a Total CPU Hog?

The Total War series isn't your average video game, here battles are not conducted between the player and a few opponents, battles here are conducted with armies thousands strong, a factor that can quickly burn through your PC's resources. 

Now before we go any further, we will not one thing. Total War Three Kingdoms can be heavier on the CPU than shown below, but that is only when we intentionally try to push things, either through custom battles in a 4 VS 4 army scenario or when zooming to out on the campaign map as far as possible when your control over half of China, forcing the game to draw up an entire campaign's worth of territory at once. Our benchmarks are designed to highlight typical gameplay scenarios within Total War Three Kingdoms, not edge cases. 

Battle Mode

In battle, Total War: Three Kingdoms makes great use of CPU resources, making use of every core that we could throw at the game, even on our eight core Ryzen 7 1700X. Even so, the game does get single-thread limited at times, resulting in framerates that are in the high 60s on our test setups. In some more extreme cases dips below 60FPS can occur, even with our 6-core and 8-core setups. These dips aren't that big of a deal, especially if you own a variable refresh rate display. 

When moving below six cores, sub-60FPS dips become more common, with our baseline dual-core, quad-thread setup dipping below 30. The Total War series is now a title for PC gamers that have access to six cores or more on the high-end, though this isn't that big of a deal, as capable 6-core processors are available for around £150 these days, especially on the AMD-side. 

Creative Assembly has done a great job improving the multi-threading capabilities of Total War's Warscape engine, though PC gamers will still need powerful systems to run this game at high framerates, especially when unit sizes are made larger. Three Kingdoms is a game that makes a case for processors like the Intel i9-9900K, as both high levels of single-threaded and multi-threaded performance are beneficial within this title. 
 

Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review
Campaign Mode

Total War's Campaign mode can be very CPU heavy, with between turn situations resulting in framerate dips to the mid-teens. This isn't a big deal, as these scenes are non-interactive, making general campaign movement and other details the most important factor to note. 

Again, Total War: Three Kingdoms benefits from multi-threading, but at its core, the game is single-thread limited, as evidenced by Three Kingdoms' minimum framerates. Yes, performance gets better at higher thread counts, but it's clear that there is one thread that's holding things back. Framerates can be increased by lowering game settings or by investing in a processor with more single-threaded performance.   

High framerates in campaign mode will make the game more visually appealing and make map navigation feel smoother, but in general lower levels of game performance are permissible here. In the campaign, players will mostly click and hit hotkeys, both of which aren't timing sensitive.   


Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review  

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Most Recent Comments

26-05-2019, 13:57:17

NeverBackDown
Fantastic write up Mark

I too did some limited testing and let me tell you the performance is certainly better than Warhammer 2, but man some settings are insane!

TAA in my testing easily eats up 11-12 FPS. Shadows also are extremely demanding, basically everything that was extremely demanding before still is. Though the major improvement to CPU performance is definitely helping make it a more consistent and better gameplay experience.

It looks like I'll dial down every setting except unit sizes to high. Not much benefit using more based off the screenshots.

I also would like to see separate settings for campaign and battle. They can be so much different in terms of framerates it's makes you have to take into account both modes and dial back settings.Quote

26-05-2019, 18:50:16

WYP
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
Fantastic write up Mark

I too did some limited testing and let me tell you the performance is certainly better than Warhammer 2, but man some settings are insane!

TAA in my testing easily eats up 11-12 FPS. Shadows also are extremely demanding, basically everything that was extremely demanding before still is. Though the major improvement to CPU performance is definitely helping make it a more consistent and better gameplay experience.

It looks like I'll dial down every setting except unit sizes to high. Not much benefit using more based off the screenshots.

I also would like to see separate settings for campaign and battle. They can be so much different in terms of framerates it's makes you have to take into account both modes and dial back settings.
Thanks. Yeah, there are lot of complexities to the Total War series.

This game definitely runs better than Warhammer II, that said, the extra unit variety and the unit sizes that some factions offer do not do that game any favours. The Skaven will kill your CPU cycles faster than any of those dwarf things.

While TAA can be demanding, it is a great addition to the game. It deals with a lot of the aliasing and smooths over a lot of the fuzziness that the game has with FXAA or no AA. As nice as MSAA sounds on paper, it is more demanding and doesn't address all types of aliasing.

I'd love to have that 5GHz i9-9900KS right now...Quote

26-05-2019, 20:39:06

NeverBackDown
Playing at 1440p it reduces the need for TAA but it still does look slightly better. But with my 1080 just maintaing 60fps is enough of a task. Adding TAA drops me to the 45-50 range. So i'll stick with no TAA.

I use extreme unit settings to, which is also another reason TAA is such a big performance hit since it has to calculate for all the extra units.Quote
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