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).

Additional Note for 7/28: As this review is being written, due to limited time, testing on the CPUs is still ongoing and some benchmark graphs will be added in time when the results come in and can be verified.

Web Tests on Chrome 56

Sunspider 1.0.2
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
Google Octane 2.0
WebXPRT15

System Tests

PDF Opening
FCAT
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

PCMark8
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
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  • haukionkannel - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    You can install Ryzen 1200 and use Nvidia 1080ti and run games at 4K easily, so there is a point of these prosessors.
    There will be Ryzen based APU later in this or next year for Office computers and maybe even htpc usage and laptops. Those Are budget CPU for gaming and you can pair them as fast GPU as you like and still get reasonable good results!
    The Intel 7700 is in the top, but if you run games at 4K I think that you can save a big deal by usin amd 1200 instead of Intel 7700! The difference is so small in speed and so big in money!
    Reply
  • kaesden - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    dont forget that ryzen 1200 with a 1080ti could also have a 1700 dropped in down the line when budget allows, or when more cpu performance is needed. And the ryzen based APU's are coming eventually for those who just want basic integrated graphics. AMD isn't finished yet with their roll out. Reply
  • zodiacfml - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    The purpose is to make use/sell of disabled chips. This could be the reason why AMD and Nvidia started selling the new, lowest end discrete graphics cards. Desktop APUs will arrive early 2018.

    I wonder if AMD will ever have to cripple these Zen parts in the future as some articles mention they have high pretty good wields.
    Reply
  • lefty2 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    They aren't "making" a $100 CPU with no iGPU, they are just re-badging a $500 CPU. Much cheaper in research costs than having to design a new die. ...and the same logic applies to the 7700K Reply
  • bennyg - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    I think the price/perf discussion should be a it broader in scope than just comparing CPU alone. The need to find or buy a GPU for the R3 compared to the Intel competition is a noticable omisson. Even the budgestest secondhandest GPUs will throw out the metrics of a $30 price comparison, but the extra graphics performance and/or features you may get from a dedicated GPU over iGPU should also be considered. Reply
  • bennyg - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    should be a *lot* broader. typo Reply
  • Manch - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    That's why these were tested with the higher end GPU's. To eliminate the IGP as a performance factor and compare CPU only. As you said, the extra performance you would get from even a low end discrete would be an unfair advantage for AMD. If you got one that was crappier than the IGP(if possible) then it would be an unfair advantage to Intel. It would be hard to decide which Discrete card would be the official stand in. On that note, doesn't AMD have discrete R7 cards that are paired with their APU's that are pretty much a copy of the IGP? They're not VEGA cores though so it wouldn't be a good way to predict the performance of the upcoming APU's. It would however give an idea as to what Bristol would have been using ZEN cores. Reply
  • extide - Saturday, July 29, 2017 - link

    Latest AMD APU's are still construction cores (Excavator) with Polaris based graphics. Ryzen with Vega based will come later. Reply
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    I don't know... maybe... gaming on a relatively small budget? Ryzen 3 plus a $150-200 graphics card is clearly better than an equivalent i3 build, plus they overclock even with a cheap B350 board. Reply
  • serendip - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    For a cheapo gamer like me, Ryzen 3 + a $100 card is fine, but how big is that market anyway?

    AMD needs to go beyond servicing enthusiasts, it has to get OEMs to use Ryzen in cheap PCs for basic use in schools, homes and businesses. These segments won't bother going for Ryzen 5 or i5, they just want the cheapest computer available. AMD doesn't have a good name in the low end of the market because of its terrible APUs.
    Reply

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