Performance, Efficiency & Analysis
Never lead a page with a table if you want people to actually scroll down to performance charts? Though the comparison table of the previous page is most useful to our valued readers, here's a photo to remind image skimmers of what’s being compared.
And now I'll follow through with the obligatory benchmarks table.
|Battlefield 4||Version 184.108.40.206, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO|
|Grid 2||Version 220.127.116.1179, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA|
|Arma 3||Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF|
|Far Cry 3||V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO|
|Adobe Creative Suite|
|Adobe After Effects CC||Version 18.104.22.1684: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly|
|Adobe Photoshop CC||Version 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates|
|Adobe Premeire Pro CC||Version 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality|
|iTunes||Version 22.214.171.124 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format|
|Lame MP3||Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)|
|Handbrake CLI||Version: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48000 Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)|
|TotalCodeStudio 2.5||Version: 126.96.36.19977: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV|
|ABBYY FineReader||Version 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages|
|Adobe Acrobat 11||Version 188.8.131.529: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2013||Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Blender||Version: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1|
|WinZip||Version 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"|
|WinRAR||Version 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"|
|7-Zip||Version 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"|
|Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings|
|3DMark Professional||Version: 184.108.40.206 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark|
|PCMark 8||Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks|
Synthetic benchmarks are a great tool for use in identifying component weaknesses, but PCMark’s storage test also plays a role in our final analysis. That’s because it’s the one benchmark that best represents startup times for some of the actual applications in our test suite.
3DMark gets a boost from the new platform that could be credited to the CPU’s added cache or activated core virtualization. Meanwhile, the one benchmark that matters towards final analysis, PCMark Storage remains consistent between the current SATA SSD and the previous quarter’s M.2 version.
Sandra Cryptography shows the AES instructions limitation applied when using BCLK to overclock locked processors.
Arma 3 and Battlefield 4 show weak preference for the new build’s higher-model CPU
Far Cry 3 responds poorly to the new platform, showing lower FPS at single-screen resolutions compared to last quarter. Yet the application we’d expect to penalize the new system’s slower RAM, Grid 2 barely cares.
The virtual cores enabled by Intel Hyper Threading pay huge dividends in video encoding, even as audio encoding aps favor the previous non-Hyper-Threaded machine. The HT advantage is also found in After Effects and Premiere, to a lesser effect, and the 16GB DRAM capacity of both recent systems destroys the 8GB Q3 build in After Effects.
Well-threaded office, productivity, and compression applications also appear to benefit from the Hyper Threading technology enabled only in the new build. The use of a mechanical hard drive as primary storage crippled the Q3 build significantly in 7-Zip.
Power, Heat & Efficiency
In spite of its high core-voltage setting, the new system’s CPU pulls less full-load power than the Q4’s CPU when both are overclocked. Stock clocks are a completely different matter, as the Q4 baseline was far more miserly. Looking at the data more closely, it appears the new platform is power-throttling its CPU under artificially high loads.
Peak GPU temperature goes down when it's overclocked, only because I selected a custom fan slope to go with that overclock. The new build’s improved CPU cooler and case also work to keep CPU temperatures below those of preceding builds. Peak efficiency at idle is identical between the two latest builds, but a performance increase that exceeds its power increase allows efficiency to go up when the new machine is overclocked.
Because I used a custom fan slope when overclocking, it’s hard to blame the new case entirely for poor full-load results. Instead we have to look at both machines at stock settings to verify that the new case has noisier fans (higher sound levels at idle), but is similarly capable containing the noise of identically-set internal components (similar noise level at full load).
Remember the money I squandered on a better case and additional storage? Both upgrades add “bucks” without increasing performance “bang” in the complete system value analysis.
Starting out 4% down in value, the new machine narrowed its losses to 3% when both are overclocked.
Taking away the price of the OS from both machines makes the new system’s value look worse, since the money I squandered on quality upgrades is now a larger portion of the smaller system prices.
On the other hand, this build comes with no apologies, where I was forced to apologize for not including mass storage in my Q4 2015 build. Many builders will use their old cases and mass storage devices when configuring a new system, and this is also the place where I can prove that my CPU selection was more than adequate. Without counting the parts not needed to make the machine operate, the new platform has 3% to 5% more performance-per-dollar than the Q4 system.
The Q1 2016 machine has the same graphics card as its Q4 predecessor, so its performance gains at high gaming resolutions are marginal and exceeded by far the price increase of the Xeon platform. Most gamers would probably be just as happy with the previous, less expensive machine.
My goals this quarter were to increase CPU performance, case quality and storage capacity at minimal cost. I succeeded in the fairest value comparison, but would need to give up the case and storage upgrade to come out ahead in other value comparisons. Though I’m comfortable with the new results, we’d all love to hear your thoughts concerning the direction for our next System Builder Marathon.