2017 CPU Benchmarking

For our review, we are implementing our fresh CPU testing benchmark suite, using new scripts developed specifically for this testing. This means that with a fresh OS install, we can configure the OS to be more consistent, install the new benchmarks, maintain version consistency without random updates and start running the tests in under 5 minutes. After that it's a one button press to start an 8-10hr test (with a high-performance core) with nearly 100 relevant data points in the benchmarks given below. The tests cover a wide range of segments, some of which will be familiar but some of the tests are new to benchmarking in general, but still highly relevant for the markets they come from.

Our new CPU tests go through six main areas. We cover the Web (we've got an un-updateable version of Chrome 56), general system tests (opening tricky PDFs, emulation, brain simulation, AI, 2D image to 3D model conversion), rendering (ray tracing, modeling), encoding (compression, AES, h264 and HEVC), office based tests (PCMark and others), and our legacy tests, throwbacks from another generation of bad code but interesting to compare.

Our graphs typically list CPUs with microarchitecture, SKU name, cost and power. The cost will be one of two numbers, either the 1k unit price 'tray price' for when a business customer purchases 1000 CPUs, or the MSRP likely to be found at retail. The problem here is that neither Intel nor AMD are consistent: Intel has a tray price for every CPU, but an MSRP only for parts sold at retail. AMD typically quotes MSRP for CPUs at retail, tray prices for enterprise CPUs, and doesn't say much about OEM only parts. We try to find a balance here, so prices may be $10-$20 from what you might expect.

A side note on OS preparation. As we're using Windows 10, there's a large opportunity for something to come in and disrupt our testing. So our default strategy is multiple: disable the ability to update as much as possible, disable Windows Defender, uninstall OneDrive, disable Cortana as much as possible, implement the high performance mode in the power options, and disable the internal platform clock which can drift away from being accurate if the base frequency drifts (and thus the timing ends up inaccurate).

Web Tests on Chrome 56

Sunspider 1.0.2
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
Google Octane 2.0

System Tests

PDF Opening
3DPM v2.1
Dolphin v5.0
DigiCortex v1.20
Agisoft PhotoScan v1.0

Rendering Tests

Corona 1.3
Blender 2.78
LuxMark CPU C++
LuxMark CPU OpenCL
POV-Ray 3.7.1b4
Cinebench R15 ST
Cinebench R15 MT

Encoding Tests

7-Zip 9.2
WinRAR 5.40
AES Encoding (TrueCrypt 7.2)
HandBrake v1.0.2 x264 LQ
HandBrake v1.0.2 x264-HQ
HandBrake v1.0.2 HEVC-4K

Office / Professional

Chromium Compile (v56)
SYSmark 2014 SE

Legacy Tests

3DPM v1 ST / MT
x264 HD 3 Pass 1, Pass 2
Cinebench R11.5 ST / MT
Cinebench R10 ST / MT

A side note - a couple of benchmarks (LuxMark) weren't fully 100% giving good data during testing. Need to go back and re-work this part of our testing.

2017 CPU Gaming Tests

For our new set of GPU tests, we wanted to think big. There are a lot of users in the ecosystem that prioritize gaming above all else, especially when it comes to choosing the correct CPU. If there's a chance to save $50 and get a better graphics card for no loss in performance, then this is the route that gamers would prefer to tread. The angle here though is tough - lots of games have different requirements and cause different stresses on a system, with various graphics cards having different reactions to the code flow of a game. Then users also have different resolutions and different perceptions of what feels 'normal'. This all amounts to more degrees of freedom than we could hope to test in a lifetime, only for the data to become irrelevant in a few months when a new game or new GPU comes into the mix. Just for good measure, let us add in DirectX 12 titles that make it easier to use more CPU cores in a game to enhance fidelity.

Our original list of nine games planned in February quickly became six, due to the lack of professional-grade controls on Ubisoft titles. If you want to see For Honor, Steep or Ghost Recon: Wildlands benchmarked on AnandTech, point Ubisoft Annecy or Ubisoft Montreal in my direction. While these games have in-game benchmarks worth using, unfortunately they do not provide enough frame-by-frame detail to the end user, despite using it internally to produce the data the user eventually sees (and it typically ends up obfuscated by another layer as well). I would instead perhaps choose to automate these benchmarks via inputs, however the extremely variable loading time is a strong barrier to this.

So we have the following benchmarks as part of our 4/2 script, automated to the point of a one-button run and out pops the results four hours later, per GPU. Also listed are the resolutions and settings used.

  • Civilization 6 (1080p Ultra, 4K Ultra)
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation* (1080p Extreme, 4K Extreme)
  • Shadow of Mordor (1080p Ultra, 4K Ultra)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider #1 - GeoValley (1080p High, 4K Medium)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider #2 - Prophets (1080p High, 4K Medium)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider #3 - Mountain (1080p High, 4K Medium)
  • Rocket League (1080p Ultra, 4K Ultra)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (1080p Very High, 4K High)

For each of the GPUs in our testing, these games (at each resolution/setting combination) are run four times each, with outliers discarded. Average frame rates, 99th percentiles and 'Time Under x FPS' data is sorted, and the raw data is archived.

The four GPUs we've managed to obtain for these tests are:

  • MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G
  • ASUS GTX 1060 Strix 6G
  • Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury 4GB
  • Sapphire Nitro RX 480 8GB

In our testing script, we save a couple of special things for the GTX 1080 here. The following tests are also added:

  • Civilization 6 (8K Ultra, 16K Lowest)

This benchmark, with a little coercion, are able to be run beyond the specifications of the monitor being used, allowing for 'future' testing of GPUs at 8K and 16K with some amusing results. We are only running these tests on the GTX 1080, because there's no point watching a slideshow more than once.

Test Bed and Setup Benchmarking Performance: CPU System Tests


View All Comments

  • Gulagula - Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - link

    Can anyone explain to me how the 7600k and in some cases the 7600 beating the 7700k almost consistenly. I don't doubt the Ryzen results but the Intel side of results confuses the heck out of me. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - link

    Sustained turbo, temperatures, quality of chips from binning (a good 7600 chip will turbo much longer than a 7600K will), time of day (air temperature is sometimes a pain - air conditioning doesn't really exist in the UK, especially in an old flat in London), speed shift response, uncore response, data locality (how often does the system stall, how long does it take to get the data), how clever the prefetchers are, how a motherboard BIOS ramps up and down the turbos or how accurate its thermal sensors are (I try and keep the boards constant for a full generation because of this). If it's only small margin between the data, there's not much to discuss. Reply
  • Funyim - Thursday, August 10, 2017 - link

    Are you absolutely sure your 7700k isn't broken? It sure looks like it is. I understand your point about margins but numbers are numbers and yours look wrong. No other benchmarks I've seen to date aligns with your findings. And please for the love of god ammend this article if it is. Reply
  • Hurr Durr - Monday, July 24, 2017 - link

    One wonders why would you relegate yourself to subpar performance of AMD processors. Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - link

    Your constant refrain belonged in the bulldozer era (when the single threaded performance difference was on the order of 80-100 percent). Apparently you can't move past the Ryzen launch. If a different company such as Samsung had launched these CPUs the reception would have been very different. I've never bought AMD before but my Ryzen 1700 is incredible for its price, and I had to be disillusioned by my terrible Skylake upgrade first before I was willing to purchase from AMD. Reply
  • Gothmoth - Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - link

    don´t argue with trolls.... Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - link

    Why would Intel enable HT when they could sell it as DLC?
  • coolhardware - Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - link

    Glad to hear that the benchmarking is (becoming) less of a chore :-) Kudos and thank you for the great article! Reply
  • fallaha56 - Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - link

    Surely that AVX drop -10 when overclocking was too much?

    What about delidding?
  • Samus - Monday, July 24, 2017 - link

    It still stands that the best value in this group is the Ryzen 1600X, mostly because it's platform cost is 1/3rd that of Intel's HEDT. So unless you need those platform advantages (PCIe, which even x299 doesn't completely have on these KBL-X CPU's) it really won't justify spending $300 more on a system, even if single threaded performance is 15-20% better.

    Just the fact an AMD system of less than half the cost can ice a high end Intel system in WinRAR speaks a lot to AMD's credibility here.

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