2017 CPU Benchmarks

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.

All of our benchmark results can also be found in our benchmark engine, Bench.

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).

New Tests

PCMark10 – We had several requests to include PCMark10 in our new testing suite. Normally we wait until a new benchmark has most of the problems ironed out, however our initial performance scaling metrics show that PCMark10 is basically there already. The extended suite covers ‘Essential, Productivity and Creativity’ benchmarks such as GIMP, Blender, video editing, conferencing, complex spreadsheets and other tests. We use the subtest values as well as the gaming physics result.

Agisoft PhotoScan 1.3.3 – Again, requests to use a more updated version of Photoscan were also coming through the inbox. Over the older version, Photoscan includes various throughput enhancements to each of the core points of the algorithm. Agisoft also gave us a new larger set of more detailed test images to generate our 3D models, giving a longer benchmark (but results are not comparable to the old data). We’ve run this benchmark on about a dozen CPUs ready for this review.

Strategic AI - For our test we use the in-game Civilization 6 AI benchmark with a few custom modifications. Civilization is one of the most popular strategy video games on the market, heralded for its ability for extended gameplay and for users to suddenly lose 8 hours in a day because they want to play ‘one more turn’. A strenuous setting would involve a large map with 20 AI players on the most difficult settings, leading to a turn time (waiting for the AI players to all move in one turn) to exceed several minutes on a mid-range system. Note that a Civilization game can easily run for over 500 turns and be played over several months due to the level of engagement and complexity.

Web Tests on Chrome 56

Sunspider 1.0.2
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
Google Octane 2.0
WebXPRT15

System Tests

Strategic AI
PDF Opening
FCAT
3DPM v2.1
Dolphin v5.0
DigiCortex v1.20
Agisoft PhotoScan v1.3.3

Rendering Tests

Corona 1.3
Blender 2.78
LuxMark v3.1 CPU C++
LuxMark v3.1 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

PCMark 8
PCMark 10
Chromium Compile (v56)
SYSmark 2014 SE (not in this early review)

Legacy Tests

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

2017 GPU

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.

*Due to the timing of this review, we have only had a chance to run some CPU Gaming tests on the GTX 1080.

Power Consumption, Test Bed and Setup Benchmarking Performance: CPU System Tests
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  • FireSnake - Thursday, October 05, 2017 - link

    Awesome revies! Let's read... Reply
  • prisonerX - Thursday, October 05, 2017 - link

    No need, here is a quick summary: "Intel blind panic." Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, October 05, 2017 - link

    At-least they have finally soundly beat my 3930K in the mainstream after 6 years.

    Still. No point me upgrading just yet.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 06, 2017 - link

    Even then there's an interesting option if you want threaded performance; I just upgraded to a XEON E5-2680 v2 (IB-EP) for 165 UKP. Lower 1T speed for sure, but MT should be the same or better as a 3930K @ 4.8. No oc means more stable, less heat/noise/power, and being IB-based means it ups the slots to PCIe 3.0. Not a relevant choice for gaming, but a possibility for those doing VMs, rendering, etc., and just want to get by for a little while longer. Reply
  • Breit - Friday, October 06, 2017 - link

    OR search for an XEON E5-1680v2... :)
    It's an Ivy Bridge-E 8c/16t chip that will fit in Sandy Bridge-E mainboards (x79) and has an unlocked multiplier opposed to this E5-2680v2. So with this you won't lose your overclocking ability.

    But in the end, I guess that the greatly reduced power draw and the more "modern" platform from an i7-8700K system compared to the x79 platform will give it the edge here.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    Very interesting that the 1680 v2 is unlocked, I didn't know that.

    Alas though, availability of the 1680 v2 is basically zero, whereas the 2680 v2 is very easy to find, and the cost of 1680 v2s which are available (outside the UK) is extremely high (typical BIN of 600 UKP, normal auction start price of 350 UKP, completed listings only shown for BIN items which were purchased for between 500 and 600 UKP). By contrast, I bought several 2680 v2s for 165 UKP each. Testing on a P9X79 WS (all-core turbo of 3.1) gives a very impressive 15.44 for CB 11.5, and 1381 for CB R15 which is faster than a stock 8700K (for reference, the 1680 v2 scores 1230 for CB R15). Note the following page on AT has a very handy summary of all the turbo bin levels:

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/7852/intel-xeon-e52...

    So, I'm very pleased with the 2680 v2 purchase, it's faster than my 3930K @ 4.8, runs with very low temps, much lower power draw, hence less heat, less fan noise and since it's not oc'd it'll be solidly reliable (this particular test system will eventually be in an office in India, so power/heat/reliability is critical). For the target systems in question, it's a great solution. Only thing I noticed so far is it didn't like me trying to set a 2133 RAM speed, but it worked ok at 1866; I can probably tighten the timings instead, currently just at 9/11/10/28/2T (GSkill 32GB kit, 8x4GB).

    The 4930K I have though will go into my gaming system (R4E), since I don't mind the oc'ing fun, higher noise, etc., but it's not a system I'll use for converting video, for that I have a 6850K.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, October 06, 2017 - link

    Full throttle: yes. Panic: no. Blind: no. Reply
  • Zingam - Saturday, October 07, 2017 - link

    Can you buy it? No? Paper launch of Unobtanium 8000? -> panic, PR propaganda bullshit and dirty Intel marketing tactics as usual targeted at lamer fanboys.

    This comment is written by an Intel user! ;)
    Reply
  • prisonerX - Saturday, October 07, 2017 - link

    We've got enough dumb Intel apologists here already, thanks. Reply
  • coolhardware - Sunday, October 08, 2017 - link

    The i7-8700 is *finally* going to replace my trusty i5-2500K.

    Ordered my 8700 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2y9IamG ($319) and looking forward to a nice upgrade :-) That is a lot of CPU for the money IMHO.

    Kudos to AMD for bringing competition back to the CPU market!
    Reply

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