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24-02-2015


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CPU testing methodology. Release 3.0

Developing CPU testing methodology. Release 2.0 we knew that sooner or later it will changed. However we have to deal with the IT-industry, which is developing almost at the fastest pace among other activities. Over the past few years significant changes have taken place at the hardware and software. In the first case manufacturers have optimized microarchitecture of its products by having increased their productivity due to increasing the number of structural elements and the introduction of new instructions. And finally there is a mass optimization of games and software for multi-core / multi-threaded solutions.

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Due to such events we faced with a natural question about how to update an existing testing methodology for processors. However, this task is not as simple as it might seem at first glance. After all, it is necessary not only to pick up benchmarks which have not lost their relevance for several years, but also provide an opportunity to compare the results from different generations of processors. The more that we have fairly extensive database, which includes indicators over more than 50 models of CPU. It would be foolish to throw it on the garbage heap of history.

Therefore, the preparation of a new testing methodology has taken a little longer period than it was planned. But in the end we have result which was our aim at the beginning.  We hope that readers of GECID.com will like the final version. So, let’s proceed to its description.

Hardware

Along with updating the methodology we decided to upgrade our test bench. Although in this case the right to say "benches", because, depending on the CPU socket the configuration composition will vary slightly. And we want to note that it practically does not affect the comparability of results. And the selection of components is made in such a way that they do not restrict the capabilities of the processor and allows to fully reveal its potential, including overclocking part.

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The basis of the new test bench is formed by four most relevant platforms: Socket AM3+ / FM2+ / LGA1150 / LGA2011-v3. Naturally, in the case of appearance of new processor socket, the corresponding platform will be added to this list.

Components

Platform

Socket AM3+

Socket FM2+

Socket LGA1150

Socket LGA2011-v3

Motherboard

ASUS SABERTOOTH 990FX R2.0

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer

ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer

ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME

RAM

DDR3-2400 TwinMOS TwiSTER 9DHCGN4B-HAWP (2 x 4 GB)

DDR4-3000 Kingston HyperX Predator HX430C15PBK4/16 (4 x 4 GB)

Graphics card

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC

Cooler

Scythe Mugen 3

Noctua NH-U14S

Drive

Seagate ST6000NM0024 (6 ТB, SATA 6 Gb/s)

PSU

Seasonic X-660 (660 W)

Case

Enermax Hoplite ECA 3220

Motherboards

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In the last testing mythology of processors for platform Socket AM3+ we used the motherboard ASUS SABERTOOTH 990FX. It has demonstrated high result during the experiments, so it was decided to take the same model of only the second revision ASUS SABERTOOTH 990FX R2.0 for a new configuration. Recall that its distinctive feature is the use of higher quality components, massive radiators and reinforced power subsystem. All of this will allow to rely to the stability of your computer at all loads, including during acceleration of "gluttonous" processors. But don’t forget that the arsenal of AMD has solutions where the TDP level in nominal can reach 220 W.

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The second popular platform in the "red" is a Socket FM2+. Hybrid processors are not "ovens", as their relatives from generations of AMD Zambezi / Vishera, but there are also models with the level TDP of 100 W. Given the great overclocking potential of the processor and the graphics APU AMD, the motherboard in this case has the same high requirements. And they are present in the model ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer. In addition to the good organization of the power converter, it also drew our attention to the support of fast memory modules, enhanced network controller, easy access to the main slots and connectors, as well as the presence of shortcut buttons enter the BIOS for the next boot the computer. The last option may seem to someone insignificant. We also want to note that this motherboard is based on the advanced chipset AMD A88X, so it has all the latest developments from AMD for platform Socket FM2+.

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Now let’s turn to the platforms intended for the installation of processors from Intel. We have two of them, the first of which is a Socket LGA1150. The "blue" have released quite a few generations of their decisions for this CPU socket, so for trouble-free operation of the entire configuration it was important to choose a motherboard equipped with the most advanced set of system logic. Such is the chipset Intel Z97. Accordingly, the basis for platform Socket LGA1150 will be a model ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer. Here the usual 4-phase CPU power converter is replaced by 8-phase, standard radiators are increased, all circuits use high power components, and also qualitative Japanese capacitors. Let’s add the support memory modules that operate at a frequency of up to 3200 MHz, intuitive BIOS menu with many options and convenient tools to optimize the components. And as a result we’ll get an excellent foundation for the test bench.

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Socket LGA2011-v3 is the top platform, so all motherboards for it can be called the top of the functionality and features. Although there are some leaders. One of the best, in our opinion, is the model ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME. It has an impressive functionality and is made up of elements of the highest quality that will ensure trouble-free operation of the entire system even during acceleration of 6- or 8-core "monsters" in a series of Intel Haswell-E.

Random-access memory

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For platforms Socket AM3 + / FM2 + / LGA1150 as memory will perform a set of DDR3-2400 TwinMOS TwiSTER 9DHCGN4B-HAWP 8 GB, consisting of two modules. Their nominal frequency is 2400 MHz, which if necessary can be easily increased to 2666 MHz. Thus, even during acceleration from the processor memory subsystem will not be any constraints. It is also important to note that the set of DDR3-2400 TwinMOS TwiSTER 9DHCGN4B-HAWP compatible with all the above motherboards: on any of them without any problems "Factory" at its nominal frequency (2400 MHz) and timings (11-12-11-27 ).

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Platform Socket LGA2011-v3 requires standard memory DDR4, so in this case we will use a set of DDR4-3000 Kingston HyperX Predator HX430C15PBK4/16 with capacity of 16 GB. In our test configuration it will work in 4-channel mode at a speed of 3000 MHz with timings 15-16-16-39. This will eliminate the memory subsystem from the "narrow" places the PC that will allow objectively evaluate the performance of processors.

Graphics card

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For the same reasons we chosen one of today most powerful graphics cards ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC. From the standard version NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 it differs by improved implementation of power system memory and the GPU, as well as more efficient cooling system. But the most importantly is that this model operates at high frequencies and provides a very high performance in modern games. This guarantees that the card will not limit the speed of the processor and will provide the most objective results during testing.

The nice bonuses include very quiet operation of the cooling system, and under low loads there is the absence of any noise (video card fans stop spinning). Of course, this does not affect the course of the experiment, but make testing more enjoyable.

Cooler

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Scythe Mugen 3

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Noctua NH-U14S

We will use coolers Scythe Mugen 3 и Noctua NH-U14S to learn the heating degree and efficiency of the processor under hood of thermal interface. The first is used for platforms Socket AM3+ / FM2+ / LGA1150, and the second - for Socket LGA2011-v3. Both solutions have a fairly high performance that is useful in the study of the overclocking potential of processors. In this case, we deliberately did not chose top models or liquid cooling system to demonstrate the capabilities of the CPU in the typical operating conditions.

However, this does not mean that in the testing process we won’t take into account the stock coolers. Features of their design, parameters, the impression of work - all this will be described in our reviews.

Drive

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We will use the hard drive Seagate ST6000NM0024 with capacity of 6 TB for the operating system and data storage. It has a rather high performance (data transfer rate is 216 MB/s, the capacity of cache memory is 128 MB), so it’s perfect for our test bench.

Power supply unit

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The same high demands during building the test stand were required for the power supply. It must withstand heavy loads, have one channel +12V and provide excellent state of voltage at the output supply lines. Also, do not forget about the presence of a certain power reserve. And, of course, the power supply for the testbed is to be built from quality components and have all kinds of protections. All these requirements are fully present in model Seasonic X-660 with capacity of 660 W. In addition, its modular system of output cables will greatly facilitate building of required configuration, which in our case is quite relevant factor.

Case

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The purpose of our experiments is to study the performance of components under real operating conditions. Therefore, as before, we have abandoned the use of an open stand, placing all of the above components in the standard case. In our case it is the model Enermax Hoplite ECA 3220, made in the format Middle Tower and equipped with two 120 mm fans.

Software for testing

The new stand will be running a 64-bit operating system MS Windows 8.1. At the time of approval of the methodology it is the newest version, capable of ensuring stable operation of the PC without any errors.

The test applications are the most relevant benchmarks of the previous methods, and added a number of fresh applications and games. This will allow to compare the performance of different generations of processors with each other and learn about their opportunities in today's problems, especially related to the processing of 3D-graphics. Do note that all benchmarks will run in the resolution of 1920 x 1080 in order to eliminate the influence of the video card to the final results.

Special attention is paid to testing of integrated graphics cores. For these purposes we picked up a few undemanding projects and more modern games that run on low graphics settings.

In our view, this approach will give the most objective and comprehensive assessment of the performance of the processor and will allow readers to understand where it is important to buy a more expensive processor, and when you can save money. To make it easier to navigate among the variety of proposed tests, we divided them into two groups: for the processor and the graphics part.

CPU part

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (test was used in the previous procedure)

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Despite the fact that this benchmark is traditionally used to determine the potential of graphics card, and it is perfect for testing of processors. In fact Futuremark 3DMark Vantage simulates the load generated by real gaming applications, especially in terms of physical calculations, so obtained results give a fairly objective picture.

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Test runs in mode «Performance», that is, under default settings.

Futuremark 3DMark 11 (test was used in the previous procedure)

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Another version of the popular benchmarks by Futuremark, which differs from the previous by appearance of support DirectX 11 and modern methods of post-processing graphics. Also there is a special test, designed purely to test CPU capability that makes Futuremark 3DMark 11 excellent tool to compare CPU capabilities of different generations.

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Application runs in mode «Performance» under default settings.

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike v1.4.778

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Benchmark Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike v1.4.778 has been released quite recently and includes all the most advanced developments in the field of computer graphics and physics. Therefore, it makes quite high demands not only to the computer video subsystem, but also to the possibilities of the processor. And this is exactly what we need.

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The test will run in normal mode («Default») with standard graphics settings.

SiSoft Sandra Personal 2012 (test was used in the previous procedure)

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This application is a series of tests that emulate a group of tasks. This is pure synthetics, but it allows you to get the most accurate information about the processor in a specific area, in this case in arithmetic and multimedia processing.

Accordingly, during the experiment the scripts called "CPU arithmetic test" and "CPU multimedia tests" will be activated.

Futuremark PCMark 8 v2.2.282

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To investigate the capabilities of the processor in everyday tasks such as word processing, surfing the Web, editing photos, video chat, and so on, we will use the script «Home» and «Work» from Futuremark PCMark 8.

CINEBENCH R11.5 (test was used in the previous procedure)

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Another important group of task is the three-dimensional modeling and design. Corresponding load on the processor is provided by a series of benchmarks CINEBENCH, which also scale well on multi-core (multi-threading is supported). To compare the results of new and previously tested CPU we used version of CINEBENCH R11.5.

CINEBENCH R15

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However CINEBENCH R11.5 can not provide the most complete assessment of the capabilities of modern solutions. For these purposes it is better to use a version of CINEBENCH R15, which includes support for the latest sets of instructions (Intel AVX and others) and the most advanced technologies in the field of rendering of 3D-objects.

TrueCrypt 7.1a (test was used in the previous procedure)

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Benchmark TrueCrypt 7.1a is a utility for determining the speed of data encryption using modern cryptographic methods. In order to assess the level of processor performance we use the most severe combination of algorithms: Serpent + Twofish + AES.

Fritz Chess Benchmark v4.2 (test was used in the previous procedure)

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Utility Fritz Chess is a kind of emulator work of artificial intelligence to calculate chess combinations. Despite the fact that it was released relatively long ago, it can easily get "sweat" the modern processors, including multi-core.

x264 Benchmark HD 5.0.1 (test was used in the previous procedure)

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This benchmark allows you to check the possibility of the CPU in the field of video encoding. Problems of this kind are quite relevant today, so we just could not pass this test. In addition, it supports multi-threading and is able to fully load the CPU. In order to obtain the most comprehensive assessment we will use 64-bit encoder.

WinRAR v5.20

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Archiver WinRAR doesn’t need any introduction. In the new methodology we will use one of the latest versions of the software (v5.20) with enabled mode "Threading".

RealBench v2.41

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Utility RealBench v2.41 is another tool for integrated assessment capabilities of the processor. It includes four scenarios that cover different areas of PC applications: image processing, video encoding, OpenCL-computing, as well as complex multi-threaded tasks.

Battlefield 4 v1.2.0.0 

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Even before its release the game Battlefield 4  managed to acquire a crowd of fans. This is the case when the developer did not disappoint the expectations of users, providing them with addictive gameplay, as well as juicy and interactive picture. However, as a result of the game was quite demanding to the processor. So it deservedly won a place in our test methodology. Note that the engine Frostbite 3 which is the base of Battlefield 4 is optimized for multi-threading, which will fully assess the capabilities of modern processors. 

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The test will be run on the ultra-high settings.

Alien: Isolation v1.0

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In the game Alien: Isolation developers have managed to provide the terrible atmosphere of dilapidated space station that would have been impossible without the use of advanced technologies of post-processing graphics and realistic physics. As in the previous project, the engine of the game supports multi-threading, allowing modern processors to fully realize its full potential.

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Built-in benchmark will run with all the options at maximum value.

F1 2014 v1.0

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Game F1 2014 is a simulator of racing cars of Formula 1, where the main emphasis is on realistic behavior of vehicles on the road. Given that the calculation of physics goes directly to tens of objects in the picture, this load pretty high influences the processor. Due to this indicator, the game F1 2014 can be put on a par with the most modern AAA-projects.

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The test will be run using maximum graphics settings.

GRID Autosport v1.0.100.5260

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Project GRID Autosport is another car simulator with a relatively small part of the requirements for graphics, but with more emphasis on physics and interaction of objects in the game. And it is well optimized for multi-threading, which will provide an objective picture of the actual performance of the processor.

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To provide test we chose scenario with very high graphics settings.

Metro: Last Light Redux v1.0.0.1

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Game Metro: Last Light is the sequel of the popular project Metro 2033. In mid-2014 it has been remastered. Moreover, the update affected not only the graphics, but also of the engine. In particular, it has undergone a major upgrade of character animation, and the world has become more alive and interactive. Naturally the processing required quite high computing resources, including processor.

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Benchmark will run with under highest possible graphics settings.


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