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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  • Ian Cutress - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    So one, overclocking is for a later review. Can't pass judgement on something that's not been tested. Other sites have certainly had more time (I get my chips 3-4 days after the US sites do, as I'm not in the US). This review was being written as the deadline passed, and is still being tested. It's not written it weeks in advance, with time to tooth comb and perfect every sentence. I've pulled an all-nighter to get to where it is now, even with some of the missing tests which are still being run. So when you say 'does not tell the full story', well not everything has been tested. I've made that abundantly clear several times in the review.

    Two, these chips are filling in volume at the lower end, especially in B2B where nothing is overclocked. You want me to sing the praises of a feature that we haven't had time to test for a product that's going to fill a market that won't use that feature, even though some in a different market might? If/when we get around to a pt2, I'll focus more on the enthusiast perspective. If you've read most of our CPU reviews over the past two years, most of the emphasis usually goes on out-of-the-box performance anyway.

    Third, on the very first page, in black and white, it states 'The big upswing for AMD here is going to be overclocking, and potentially push the Ryzen 3 CPUs through to compete with the next one up the stack depending on stock performance.'
    Reply
  • vanilla_gorilla - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Ian, first off, great review as always and thank you. Second, you should just write up a large FAQ/disclaimer for your reviews that you can just link in the article and in comment replies. The same questions and complaints come up over and over, you've got to be tired of addressing them. Reply
  • DrKlahn - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    As I said, I understand it is for a later review. I also understand that a lot of these chips will never be overclocked. I don't want you to sing the praises of anything. I want a caveat in the conclusion that this potential exists and it impacts the value proposition. History has shown us (think the initial Radeon 290 reviews) that the first impression sticks with the reader regardless of how a product fares in the future. I have zero issues with your conclusion as an out of the box evaluation and appreciate your efforts. However your conclusion should have a caveat attached to it to call attention to everything the chip offers. Reply
  • mikato - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    I think that's fair. Here's another vote. Reply
  • Gothmoth - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    just saw your reply.... and i count on that. :-) Reply
  • Gothmoth - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    i hope anandtech will test the overcloked ryzen against the locked intels.
    but then... is amd paying enough fot advertising on anandtech..... :)
    Reply
  • willis936 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    There is an R7 review and now an R3 review but nothing on the most interesting segment: R5. I've seen multiple other sites say that the R5 segment is where AMD is the clear winner for all workloads. Go up or down $50 and Intel makes more sense for gaming. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/11244/the-amd-ryzen-... Reply
  • willis936 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    I wonder why that doesn't show up when using anandtech's search feature.

    http://www.anandtech.com/SearchResults?q=R5
    Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    This article doesn't show up when you search R3, and the 1800X article doesn't show up if you search R7.

    AMD isn't actually using R3, R5, and R7 as part of their branding for Ryzen, though I guess at least some are using that shorthand. The R3/5/7 are being used for GPU branding for some generations of discrete cards and APUs.

    If you look at the top of the article underneath the author's name, you'll see what tags the article has (and thus search terms) that you could use to find it in the future. Looks like "Ryzen" or "Ryzen 3" "Ryzen 5" and "Ryzen 7" are good terms.

    On the other hand, I found the link I posted above by going to Google and typing:
    anandtech 1600x review
    Reply

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