|Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 02 January 2011|
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PCMark Vantage Tests
PCMark Vantage is an objective hardware performance benchmark tool for PCs running 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 7. It's well suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista/7 PC: from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops, to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Benchmark Reviews has decided to use a few select tests from the suite to simulate real-world processor usage in this article. Our tests were conducted on 64-bit Windows 7, with results displayed in the chart below.
TV and Movies Suite
* EDITOR'S NOTE: Hopefully our readers will carefully consider how relevant PCMark Vantage is as a "real-world" benchmark, since many of the tests rely on unrelated hardware components. For example, per the FutureMark PCMark Vantage White Paper document, Gaming test #2 weighs the storage device for 100% of the test score. In fact, according to PCMark Vantage the video card only impacts 23% of the total gaming score, but the CPU represents 37% of the final score. As our tests in this article (and many others) have already proven, gaming performance has a lot more to do with the GPU than the CPU, and especially more than the hard drive or SSD (which is worth 38% of the final gaming performance score).
The TV and Movies suite concentrates on video playback and transcoding, but only uses two threads at a maximum, so the Intel processor's Hyper-Threading and AMD 1100T's six cores shouldn't be an advantage. Still, the Intel processors are all faster than the 1100T, and the results seem to scale almost directly with clock speed, with the Sandy Bridge architecture seeming to provide little advantage.
The Gaming benchmark relies on the hard disk and video card for over 50% of its score (see the Editor's Note above), and we're using the same HDD and video card for all platforms, so the Intel processor's decisive win in this test simply means that Vantage's gaming code is more optimized for Intel processors. Bear in mind, however, that most "real world" games will not show this difference; generally, in games, your video card matters most, followed by the clock speed (not number of cores) of your processor. The PCMark Vantage gaming test can use up to 16 threads, so Hyper-Threading gives the Intel CPUs a real advantage, but very few commercial games will take full advantage of multicore processors.
Unlike the Gaming test, the Music test results have more real-world relevance, since multi-threading is much more common in music transcoding applications than it is in games. What's strange here is the exceptional performance of the Nehalem-based Core i7-950 proc, which beats the 2600K's stock results and comes close to its overclocked results. This is something you should be aware of: when Intel (or AMD) change a processor's instructions or architecture, it's not a given that existing code will take full, or any, advantage of it. This is the only benchmark I ran in which the Intel DP67BG motherboard with the stock-clocked 2500K CPU performed noticeably worse than the ASUS boards at stock clock speeds.
Futuremark's weighing of the various system components in each test is the subject of some debate; and some of their choices (such as the Gaming test's use of a 1024x768 resolution with no anti-aliasing or texture filtering being "representative" of the "consumer experience") seem odd to me, but the TV and Movies and Music benchmarks are arguably reasonable predictors of overall system performance.