Hitman's DirectX 12 renderer can stress every part of a system, so we cranked the game's graphics settings at 1920x1080 and got to testing.
Hitman's DX12 mode favors lots of cores, but performance seems to regress once we move beyond 10 cores or so. Neither the i9-7960X nor the i9-7980XE can top the i7-7820X, and the AMD CPUs fall behind their many-core Intel counterparts. Despite their high average frame rates, however, the i9-7960X and i9-7980XE fall toward the back of the pack in our 99th-percentile frame time measure of delivered smoothness. Only the i7-7820X does worse, if a 99th-percentile frame time of 16.2 ms can even be called bad to begin with.
That 99th-percentile frame time weirdness for the i7-7820X is a theme of this review. You will want to pay attention to the chip's frame-time plots in the graphs above. For reasons we still haven't been able to crack, this chip exhibits its own particular brand of stutter that's clearly evident in frame-time graphs. We can analyze just how much of our one-minute test run those little spikes occupy using our advanced "time-spent-beyond" metrics, so let's get to it.
These "time spent beyond X" graphs are meant to show "badness," those instances where animation may be less than fluid—or at least less than perfect. The formulas behind these graphs add up the amount of time our graphics card spends beyond certain frame-time thresholds, each with an important implication for gaming smoothness. The 50-ms threshold is the most notable one, since it corresponds to a 20-FPS average. We figure if you're not rendering any faster than 20 FPS, even for a moment, then the user is likely to perceive a slowdown. 33 ms correlates to 30 FPS, or a 30-Hz refresh rate. Go lower than that with vsync on, and you're into the bad voodoo of quantization slowdowns. 16.7 ms correlates to 60 FPS, that golden mark that we'd like to achieve (or surpass) for each and every frame. 8.3 ms corresponds to 120 FPS, an even more demanding standard that fans of high-refresh-rate monitors will want to pay close attention to. Finally, we've recently begun including an even more demanding 6.94-ms mark that corresponds to the 144-Hz maximum rate typical of today's high-refresh-rate gaming displays.
Even though its frame-time plot is spikier than we'd like, the i7-7820X's weirdness shows up as less than a tenth of a second spent beyond 16.7 ms. Even at the more demanding 8.3-ms mark, the i7-7820X's spikes add up to just about a second and a half of our one-minute test run. Both the Core i9-7960X and i7-7980XE do worse, and the Ryzen 7 1800X is far behind.
Even though we'd prefer not to see the i7-7820X's spikiness at all, our time-spent-beyond-X graphs suggest those spikes only represent a tiny proportion of frames rendered. I certainly didn't notice hitchiness or other unpleasantness while gaming on the chip in Hitman. Let's see whether that continues to be the case.
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