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Synthetic Benchmarks: 3DMark And PCMark Vantage

How Many CPU Cores Do You Need?

I like to start things off with synthetic benchmarks, so that we can see if the real-world results mirror these theoretical workloads. It is important to keep in mind that synthetic benchmarks are usually written with the future in mind, so we expect them to be a little more responsive to configuration changes than today's real-world applications.

Let's start with the 3D gaming graphics benchmark, 3DMark Vantage. We selected the "Entry" preset, which is 3DMark's lowest-resolution preset, to better demonstrate the CPU's effect on the results:

The almost-linear speed increase is really interesting. The largest bump occurs between one and two CPU cores but it keeps scaling from there. Now let's have a look at PCMark Vantage, 3DMark's general-use counterpart:

PCMark suggests that an end user would see tangible benefits with up to three CPU cores, while the fourth core even drops performance by an insignificant amount. Let's dig a little deeper and see if we can find out why.

In the Memories test, we once again see the biggest performance jump between one and two CPU cores.

The productivity test is likely weighted heavily in PCMark's total system score, as here we see that performance tapers off at three cores. Let's move on to SiSoft's Sandra synthetic benchmarks and see if the results are similar.

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