Benchmarking Performance: CPU Rendering Tests

Rendering tests are a long-time favorite of reviewers and benchmarkers, as the code used by rendering packages is usually highly optimized to squeeze every little bit of performance out. Sometimes rendering programs end up being heavily memory dependent as well - when you have that many threads flying about with a ton of data, having low latency memory can be key to everything. Here we take a few of the usual rendering packages under Windows 10, as well as a few new interesting benchmarks.

Corona 1.3

Corona is a standalone package designed to assist software like 3ds Max and Maya with photorealism via ray tracing. It's simple - shoot rays, get pixels. OK, it's more complicated than that, but the benchmark renders a fixed scene six times and offers results in terms of time and rays per second. The official benchmark tables list user submitted results in terms of time, however I feel rays per second is a better metric (in general, scores where higher is better seem to be easier to explain anyway). Corona likes to pile on the threads, so the results end up being very staggered based on thread count.

Rendering: Corona Photorealism

Blender 2.78

For a render that has been around for what seems like ages, Blender is still a highly popular tool. We managed to wrap up a standard workload into the February 5 nightly build of Blender and measure the time it takes to render the first frame of the scene. Being one of the bigger open source tools out there, it means both AMD and Intel work actively to help improve the codebase, for better or for worse on their own/each other's microarchitecture.

Rendering: Blender 2.78


As a synthetic, LuxMark might come across as somewhat arbitrary as a renderer, given that it's mainly used to test GPUs, but it does offer both an OpenCL and a standard C++ mode. In this instance, aside from seeing the comparison in each coding mode for cores and IPC, we also get to see the difference in performance moving from a C++ based code-stack to an OpenCL one with a CPU as the main host. 

Rendering: LuxMark CPU C++Rendering: LuxMark CPU OpenCL

POV-Ray 3.7

Another regular benchmark in most suites, POV-Ray is another ray-tracer but has been around for many years. It just so happens that during the run up to AMD's Ryzen launch, the code base started to get active again with developers making changes to the code and pushing out updates. Our version and benchmarking started just before that was happening, but given time we will see where the POV-Ray code ends up and adjust in due course.

Rendering: POV-Ray 3.7

Cinebench R15

The latest version of CineBench has also become one of those 'used everywhere' benchmarks, particularly as an indicator of single thread performance. High IPC and high frequency gives performance in ST, whereas having good scaling and many cores is where the MT test wins out. 

Rendering: CineBench 15 SingleThreaded

Rendering: CineBench 15 MultiThreaded


Benchmarking Performance: CPU System Tests Benchmarking Performance: CPU Web Tests
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  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - link

    Can't disagree with you pal. They look like they execptional value for money.

    I on the other hand, am already on LGA2011-v3 platform, so I won't be changing, but the main point here is - AMD are back. And we welcome them too.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - link

    Yeah... if the pricing is as good as rumored for the Ryzen 5, I may pick up a quad-core model. Gives me an upgrade path too, maybe a Ryzen+ hexa or octa-core down the road. For budget builds that Ryzen 3 non-SMT quad-core is going to be hard to argue with though.
  • wut - Sunday, March 5, 2017 - link

    You're really optimistically assuming things.

    Kaby Lake Core i5 7400 $170
    Ryzen 5 1600X $259

    ...and single thread benchmark shows Core i5 to be firmly ahead, just as Core i7 is. The story doesn't seem to change much in the mid range.
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - link

    @wut spot-on. It also seems that Zen on GloFlo 14 nm doesn't clock higher than 4.0 GHz. Zen has lower IPC and lower actual clocks than Intel KBL.

    Whichever way you cut it, however many cores in a chip are being considered, in terms of performance, Intel leads. Intel's pricing on >4 core parts is stupid and AMD gives them worthy price competition here. But at 4C and below, Intel still leads. AMD isn't price-competitive here either. No wonder Intel haven't responded to Zen. A small clock bump with Coffee Lake and a slow move to 10 nm starting with Cannon Lake for mobile CPUs (alongside or behind the introduction of 10 nm 'datacentre' chips) is all they need to do over the next year.

    After all, if Intel used the same logic as TSMC and GloFlo in naming their process nodes, i.e. using the equivalent nanometre number of if finFETs weren't being used, Intel would say they're on a 10 nm process. They have a clear lead over GloFlo and thus anything AMD can do.
  • Cooe - Sunday, February 28, 2021 - link

    I'm here from the future to tell you that you were wrong about literally everything though. AMD is kicking Intel's ass up and down the block with no end in sight.
  • Cooe - Sunday, February 28, 2021 - link

    Hahahaha. I really fucking hope nobody actually took your "buying advice". The 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 1600 was about as fast at 1080p gaming as the 4c/4t i5-7400 ON RELEASE in 2017, and nowadays with modern games/engines it's like TWICE AS FAST.
  • deltaFx2 - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - link

    I think the reviewer you're quoting is Gamers Nexus. He doesn't come across as being a particularly erudite person on matters of computer architecture. He throws a bunch of tests at it, and then spews a few untutored opinions, which may or may not be true. Tom's hardware does a lot of the same thing, and more, and their opinions are far more nuanced. Although they too could have tried to use an AMD graphics card to see if the problems persist there as well, but perhaps time was the constraint.

    There's the other question of whether running the most expensive GPU at 1080p is representative of real-world performance. Gaming, after all, is visual and largely subjective. Will you notice a drop of (say) 10 FPS at 150 FPS? How do you measure goodness of output? Let's contrive something.

    All CPUs have bottlenecks, including Intel. The cases where AMD does better than Intel are where AMD doesn't have the bottlenecks Intel has, but nobody has noticed it before because there wasn't anything else to stack up against it. The question that needs to be answered in the following weeks and months is, are AMD's bottlenecks fixable with (say) a compiler tweak or library change? I'd expect much of it is, but lets see. There was a comment on some forum (can't remember) that said that back when Athlon64 (K8) came out, the gaming community was certain that it was terrible for gaming, and Netburst was the way to go. That opinion changed pretty quickly.
  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - link

    Gamers Nexus seem 'OK' to me. I don't know the site like I do Anandtech, but since Anand missed out the games....

    I am forced to make my opinions elsewhere. And funny you mentions Toms, they seem to back it up to some degree too, and I know these two sites are cross-owned.

    But still, when Anand get around to benching games with Ryzen, only then will I draw my final conclusions.
  • deltaFx2 - Sunday, March 5, 2017 - link

    @ Notmyusualid: I'm sure Gamers Nexus numbers are reasonable. I think they and Tom's (and other reviewers) see a valid bottleneck that I can only guess is software optimization related. The issue with GN was the bizarre and uninformed editorializing. Comments like, the workloads that AMD does well at are not important because they can be accelerated on GPU (not true, but if true, why on earth did GN use it in the first place?). There are other cases where he drops i5s from evaluation for "methodological reasons" but then says R7 == i5. Even based on the tests he ran, this is not true. Anyway, the reddit link goes over this in far more detail than I could (or would).
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - link

    @DeltaFX2 in what way was GamersNexus conclusion that tasks that can be pushed to GPUs should be incorrect? Are you saying Premiere and Blender can't be used on GPUs?

    GN's conclusion was:

    "If you’re doing something truly software accelerated and cannot push to the GPU, then AMD is better at the price versus its Intel competition. AMD has done well with its 1800X strictly in this regard. You’ll just have to determine if you ever use software rendering, considering the workhorse that a modern GPU is when OpenCL/CUDA are present. If you know specific in stances where CPU acceleration is beneficial to your workflow or pipeline, consider the 1800X."

    I think that's very fair and a very good summary of Ryzen.

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