Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare came out earlier this week, and AMD wasted no time touting the benefits of Mantle support in that game. According to AMD, the new graphics API doesn't just help Radeon graphics cards eke out higher frame rates in Garden Warfare. Mantle also lets the FX-8350 processor play in the same league as Intel's much more expensive (and normally faster) Core i7-4960X:
The internal AMD numbers above show the FX-8350 outrunning Intel's Core i7-4960X at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600 using Garden Warfare's Ultra detail preset. The Intel processor wins out at 4K (likely 3840x2160), but only by 2 FPS, AMD claims. That last scenario is, of course, more GPU-bound than the others.
Since much of Mantle's reason for being is to cut CPU overhead compared to Direct3D, these results shouldn't come as much of a shock. Our first Mantle data painted a similar picture, though not quite so starkly, in Battlefield 4, which uses the same Frostbite 3 engine as Garden Warfare. I'm still a little surprised to see the FX chip apparently edge ahead at the lower resolutions, though. The Core i7 has more threads, a larger cache, and much more memory bandwidth at its disposal. On paper, the FX's only clear advantage is its higher clock speed.
The numbers above should be taken with a small sprinkling of salt, naturally. They haven't been independently verified yet, and they focus on frames per second, which we've repeatedly shown to be an incomplete measurement of in-game performance. (Individual frame times paint a much fuller picture.) Finally, the graph above doesn't tell us how Direct3D overhead impacts CPU performance in this game. All we can say for sure is that this merits further investigation.