|AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE Black Edition AM3 CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 09 February 2009|
Page 9 of 12
PCMark05 Benchmark Tests
Using synthetic benchmarks to compare one product to another has some distinct advantages when testing similar hardware, yet I have never found myself completely satisfied by the process. I have come to understand that they're important for comparing "apples to apples", and that the results are usually very consistent. But as with any synthetic benchmark, the numbers can often mean very little more than just numbers. We don't take a high score on a synthetic benchmark to mean that a product will/should perform well, and neither should you. The difference between projected performance and actual performance is the difference between fire and the fire-fly.
PCMark is a series of computer benchmark tools developed by Futuremark. The tools are designed to test the performance of the user's CPU, read/write speeds of RAM and hard drives. We have used these tests to simulate a battery of applications and tasks, which will produce results we can compare to other systems using similar hardware.
Many enthusiasts consider PCMark to be a realistic benchmark for simulating real-world performance. If that's true, then Intel is in for some heartache. Considering the much lower price point of the Phenom II processors we've tested, it doesn't look good when they actually outperform the Core i7 920 CPU; it looks even worse when they beat it. To be fair though, we're not comparing apples to apples.
Although all of the systems we tested used the same OCZ Apex 120GB SSD imaged with Windows XP Professional, and the same Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic video card, they still are very different at their core. The Intel test system gets 3GB of Tri-Channel DDR3 operating at 1066 MHz with a latency of CL6-6-6-18, while the AMD platforms receive 4GB of 800MHz DDR2 operating in ganged mode with a latency of 5-5-5-15. Sure, this amount to little or no difference, but it's still a difference nevertheless. Of course, the Intel X58-based Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P is also nothing at all like the AMD 790-based ASUS M3A78-T AM2+ motherboard which offers integrated graphics (which were disabled in the BIOS).
So beginning with the PCMark score, it's interesting to find the AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE processor at the top with a score of 10558. Training behind by only 6% is the AMD Phenom II X3 720, which seemed so odd that I completed an entire sixth and seventh round of testing to be sure of these results. Next came the Intel Core i7-920 with 9892, and trails behind the X4 940 by 7%. The 6MB L3 cache on the X4 810 doesn't seem to be hurting very much, because even with the lowest score of 9754 it still only trails behind the leader by 8%.
PCMark05 offers several processor intensive tests which comprise the CPU benchmark suite. Taking away all of the outside influence from our testing, and concentrating on CPU-only benchmarks, the table begins to turn ever so slightly. The CPU benchmark suite includes the following tests:
Using the combined test performance to create a artificial score, PCMark05 generates a score called CPU Marks. Intel's Core i7-920 secures a narrow lead with 9140 CPU Marks, with the Phenom II X4 940 trailing a mere 0.004% behind and offering a near-identical score. The X4 810 comes next, with a score of 7914 and 15% difference from the i7-920. Finally, the triple-core X3 720 performs with 7715 CPU Marks, and trails behind the leader by 18%.
Of the many tests inside the CPU suite, I decided to illustrate the one benchmark with the largest performance difference. The Audio Compression benchmark test measures performance with synthetic encoding, and the Intel Core i7-920 pulls ahead with 40.2 MBps for the lead. Performing at 34.8 MBps was the Phenom II X4 940 BE, which trailed by nearly 16%. The X3 820 offered 35.5 MBps, while the X4 810 delivered 30.1 MBps and trailed behind the leader by 23%.