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

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

  • wallysb01 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    And you're an N=1. Intel iGPUs are more than enough for plenty uses now, and have been for a while actually. I built a cheap office machine for my wife that we use also use for streaming, for example, I even played some DOTA on it for a time. That computer has the G3220 and it works just fine. HTPC, office/web, even a little light/cheap gaming... Intel iGPU is all you need. The extra $50+, power use and space (for those that want small form factors) for a dGPU is just thrown in the garbage and lit on fire for most computer use. Reply
  • DanGer1 - Saturday, July 29, 2017 - link

    If you want to compare to an APU you will have to wait for Raven Ridge and I am pretty sure we all know what integrated Radeon graphics compare to Intel....no contest. It is my understanding that Raven Ridge will be coming out on 14nm+ as well. AMD will have a clear win in this segment. Reply
  • KAlmquist - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Currently, the lowest priced AM4 motherboard on Newegg is the ASRock A320M-HDV for $55 including shipping. There are a number of Intel LGA 1151 boards for less than that, starting with the GIGABYTE GA-H110M-M.2 for $48 and the ASRock H110M-HDS R3.0 for $51. So motherboard costs currently favor Intel at the low end. That said, the price differential is small, and may disappear over time as manufacturers recover their development costs. Reply
  • DanGer1 - Saturday, July 29, 2017 - link

    Right, but you can overclock the R3 without needing to by a "K" and it comes with a cooler. Reply
  • SlowSpyder - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Looks like AMD aimed for the i5 7400, but priced it with the i3's. Not much to complain about here. Reply
  • Otritus - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    The third(last) chart on the first page is listed as Comparison: AMD Ryzen 3 1300X when it should be Comparison: AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Reply
  • Otritus - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    On the second page it says fury x uses hdm not hbm Reply
  • Drake H. - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    just missed the dolphin... Reply
  • rocky12345 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Great review thank you.

    After watching a review on YT from AdoredTV and reading your review here I feel the R3 Ryzen's are pretty much what we all expected. They beat that useless Pentium CPU and duke it out with the i3's and the non K i5's. On AdoredTV he got the 1200 to 3.9Ghz and the 1300x to 4.0Ghz on the stock coolers with good temps. Once overclocked they really show their value in everything more so in the games. They both make the useless Pentium and the i3's look pretty sad.

    Another thing to look at is the R3's come with a stock cooler and are unlocked as well right their that adds value because unlike a K CPU you do not need to buy a cooler and if you get a Intel non K you can't make them faster by overclocking the Intel CPU's.
  • rocky12345 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Made a mistake it is Hardware Unboxed not AdoredTV I was referring to in my first comment. My bad sorry. Reply

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