System Performance

Moving on from SPEC to some of our more traditional laptop tests, I’ve taken the opportunity to add some new tests to the suite, which we’ll include on all laptops going forward. While SPEC is a fantastic set of tests to probe the limits of a platform, not everyone is going to run a workload that runs at nearly 100% CPU utilization for such a long time on a laptop. The 8-Thread tests took 4.5 hours to complete on Ice Lake, and 6.5 hours to complete on Picasso, which is likely not something most people would turn to a thin and light laptop for, so it’s important to see how both platforms perform on shorter tests where they can leverage their peak boost frequencies for a higher percentage of the duration.

PCMark 10

PCMark 10 - Essentials

PCMark 10 - Productivity

PCMark 10 - Digital Content Creation

PCMark 10 - Overall

PCMark 10 consists of several real-world tests, including web, video conferencing, spreadsheets, writing, and more. There are several GPU tests as well, including rendering, and some gaming. The suite also measures application start-up, and all aspects of the system’s performance factor into the score.

Intel’s CPU performance lead shows clearly here again, with significant leads in both the Essentials and Productivity tests, although AMD’s strong GPU pulls the Ryzen system very close on the Digital Content Creation tasks. But that is not enough to turn the tide, and the Ice Lake platform carries this win.

Cinebench R20

Cinebench R20 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R20 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Looking at the latest version of Cinebench tells a similar story as to what we’ve seen so far. Ice Lake’s significant IPC lead pulls it way ahead. On the multi-threaded test, the AMD platform does close the gap somewhat, which is similar to the SPEC rate 8 results.


7-Zip Compression

7-Zip Decompression

Checking out the popular 7-Zip file compression tool, the results are in-line with what we see in the desktop space. Intel generally has a lead on the compression side, but AMD claws back at decompression. It is a rare win on the CPU side for AMD here.


Handbrake Transcoding (Software)

Transcoding is a popular task, and Handbrake is one of the most popular tools. For this test, a 1080p movie is converted to 720p using the x264 encoder. Once again, Ice Lake offers significantly more performance when transcoding in software.

Handbrake Transcoding (Hardware)

Handbrake also supports various hardware encoders, such as Intel’s QuickSync, which provides significantly quicker transcodes at the same settings – albeit at larger file sizes and slightly lower quality compared to the software transcode, according to the Handbrake documentation. QuickSync has been very popular, and has been around quite a while. AMD also offers hardware encoding and decoding with their Video Core Next platform. Handbrake does support AMD’s Video Coding Engine (VCE) but the Surface Laptop 3 does not offer this as an option in Handbrake, so it was not able to be tested. As this is the only current Ryzen mobile APU we’ve tested, it may be a driver issue specific to the Surface branded processor.


x264 HD 5.x

x264 HD 5.x

Our previous transcoding test, x264, was also run. Here we see that once again Ice Lake has a significant performance advantage, as it did with Handbrake software encoding.

Web Tests

All of our web tests were run with the current version of Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 1909. Web results are highly impacted by the underlying scripting engine, and Microsoft is going to be moving Edge from the EdgeHTML rendering engine to the Chromium open-source project that powers Google Chrome. When they make this change, expected early in 2020, we’ll revamp our suite with new tests.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Google Octane 2.0


Intel has aggressively pushed their frequency ramping with Speed Shift, and one of the biggest beneficiaries of Speed Shift is web scripting, since the tasks tend to be very short. AMD is addressing this in Zen 2 with Collaborative Power Performance Control 2, or CPPC2, which is not as elegant of a name as Speed Shift, but promises to drop Zen’s frequency ramping from ~30 ms to ~1 to 2 ms, and will be a welcome addition on our web tests.

SPEC2017 - ST & MT Performance GPU Performance - Vega vs Iris


View All Comments

  • MBarton - Monday, December 30, 2019 - link

    There's a lot more money in server and retail desktop CPU's than there are in sub-$1000 mobile parts. Why would AMD send perfect good Zen 2 cores to the mobile market if they can sell them as something with better margins? Reply
  • Teckk - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    There's no way to recommend an AMD laptop yet. Intel has all the numbers both in terms of performance and in terms of the various models by different OEMs. Lot to catch up for AMD. This market is Intel's to lose and by the looks of the integrated graphics in this, seems to be a tough task for AMD. Reply
  • 5080 - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    Zen 2 based APU's (Renoir) will easily catch up to Intel's mobile CPU lineup. We can assume that graphics and storage performance will be much better since NVMe can use the PCIe 4.0 bus and AMD's iGPU was always ahead of Intel. We will know soon since AMD is scheduled to release Renoir on CES in January. Microsoft should have waited for Renoir before putting it into its Surface. Reply
  • smilingcrow - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    Looking at the current high power draw of PCIe 4.0 I can't see it being attractive for mobile just yet, especially as battery life is generally more important than 5GB/s storage speeds in laptops. Reply
  • GreenReaper - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    If you can use half the lanes I can totally see it being attractive - just as a quad-core may use less power than an octa-core. The main issue on the desktop is wanting the same number of faster lanes. Reply
  • MBarton - Monday, December 30, 2019 - link

    Exactly. AMD showing up with Zen 2 and x570's PCIe 4.0 wouldn't have carried much weight if they sacrificed lane count in the process. Reply
  • RSAUser - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    It doesn't pull the full required power at all times, it's fine for burst.
    Still think it doesn't really make sense though as you don't need the speed in any laptops right now as no drive can properly max it.
  • RSAUser - Friday, December 13, 2019 - link

    Storage speed is relative, most would not notice the speedup. Reply
  • MASSAMKULABOX - Sunday, December 15, 2019 - link

    Anybody care to mak any predictions on how much better the rRenoir Igpu will be compared to the 2400/3400g .. I'm thinking maybe a 25% uplift but maybe more it its NAVI. However everyone seems to be foregtting they have done most of the work , in getting out the Head Canyon NUC for Intel. they can announce in Jan with general avail in 2,3,6 months ?? Reply
  • scineram - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    No. Reply

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