New Testing Methodology

Every twelve to eighteen months it makes sense to upgrade our test beds in order to best represent what is available on the market. How the upgrade occurs depends on what is being tested, and in the case of our APU reviews it is clear that due to the wide range of graphics options available, as well as at different price points, that we have to adjust our gaming testing.

For 2015 our CPU performance testing regime remains untouched aside from the late 2014 addition of Linux-Bench for a glimpse into Linux based performance. On the gaming side, our games have been updated to the following:

  • Alien Isolation (First Person Survival-Horror)
  • Total War: Attila (Strategy)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (Open World Sandbox)
  • GRID: Autosport (Driving)
  • Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor (Action-Adventure)

Because budgets for gaming graphics cards can vary, or users decide to keep the same card for several generations, we will be testing each of these titles in both low, medium and high end graphics setups. This means we can see where the bottlenecks are for CPU performance at each stage. We have also been able to source both AMD and NVIDIA cards for most of these areas, should one side of the equation scale more than the other.

The GPU sections are split into three based on where they fit in their independent stacks rather than for direct competition:

 - Integrated Graphics
 - ASUS R7 240 2GB DDR3 ($70)
 - Dual Graphics (where applicable)

 - MSI GTX 770 Lightning 2GB ($245-$255 on eBay/Amazon, $330 new)
 - MSI R9 285 Gaming 2GB ($240)

 - ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)
 - MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

On the low end, we have selected settings in order to make the current best integrated graphics solutions score between 45 and 60 frames per second. On the mid-range and high-end, we typically pull out 1080p maximum settings or almost-maximum.

The Shadows of Mordor (SoM) benchmark throws up a little interesting teaser as well due to the use of its Dynamic Super Resolution technique. This allows us to render at 3840x2160 (Ultra-HD, or ‘4K’) with our settings despite using a 1080p monitor. As a result, we also test SoM at 4K ultra with our mid-range and high-end graphics setups.

For the high-end setups, as we have managed to source 2 cards of each, means that where applicable we can test both SLI and Crossfire setups. We apply this to Shadows of Mordor at 4K as an extra data point.

For clarity, this means:

R7 240 2GB
Dual Graphics
GTX 770 2GB
R9 285 2GB
GTX 980 4GB
R9 290X 4GB
Alien Isolation 720p Ultra 1080p Ultra 1080p Ultra
Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate
Total War: Attila 720p Performance 1080p Quality 1080p Quality
Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate
Grand Theft Auto V 720p Low 1080p Very High 1080p Very High
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
GRID: Autosport 1080p Medium 1080p Ultra 1080p Ultra
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Shadows of Mordor
720p Low
1080p Ultra
4K Ultra
1080p Ultra
4K Ultra
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate

For drivers, we locked down the 350.12 WHQL versions from NVIDIA soon after the launch of GTA V. Similarly, the 15.4 Beta drivers from AMD are also being used. These will remain consistent over the next 12-18 months until the next update.

All of our old (and new) benchmark data, both for CPU and graphics performance, can be found in our benchmark database, Bench.

We have a variety of benchmarks here, including legacy benchmarks such as CineBench 11.5 and TrueCrypt, which are not published in the main review. All CPUs/APUs that have been tested in our new 2015 style will be labeled in the dropdown menus by having its launch price listed, e.g. ’AMD A10-7850K (95W, $173)’. With any luck over the course of the next six months we will be adding new data and re-testing older processors for the database in order for our readers to compare old with new.

AMD A8-7650K Review AMD A8-7650K Test Setup, Overclocking
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  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    This comment is for Ian Cutress,

    First, thank you for the review, which was rich with performance figures and information. That said, something seems missing in the Conclusion. To be precise, the article doesn't really have a clear conclusion or recommendation, which is what many of us come here for.

    It's nice to hear about your cousin-in-law's good experiences, but the conclusion doesn't clearly answer the key question I think many readers might have: Where does this product fit in the world of options to consider when buying a new processor? Is it a good value in its price range? Should it be ignored unless you plan to use the integrated graphics for gaming? Or does it offer enough bang-for-the-buck to be a viable alternative to Intel's options for general non-gaming usage, especially if motherboard costs are considered? Should we consider AMD again, if we are in a particular niche of price and desired features?

    Basically, after all of your time with this chip and with your broader knowledge of the market offerings, what is your expert interpretation of the merits or demerits of considering this processor or its closely related AMD peers?
  • Nfarce - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    " Ultimately AMD likes to promote that for a similarly priced Intel+NVIDIA solution, a user can enable dual graphics with an APU+R7 discrete card for better performance."

    I have *long* wondered why Intel and Nvidia don't get together and figure out a way to pair up the on-board graphics power of their CPUs with a discrete Nvidia GPU. It just seems to me such a waste for those of us who build our rigs for discrete video cards and just disable the on-board graphics of the CPU. Game developers could code their games based on this as well for better performance. Right now game developer Slightly Mad Studios claims their Project Cars racing simulation draws PhysX from the CPU and not a dedicated GPU. However, I have yet to find that definitively true based on benchmarks...I see no difference in performance between moving PhysX resources to my GPUs (970 SLI) or CPU (4690K 4.7GHz) in the Nvidia control panel in that game.
  • V900 - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    Something similar to what you're describing is coming in DX12...

    But the main reason they haven't is because unless youre one of the few people who got an AMD APU because your total CPU+GPU budget is around 100$ it doesn't make any sense.

    First if all, the performance you get from an Intel igpu in a desktop system will be minimal, compared to even a 2-300$ Nvidia card. And secondly, if you crank up the igpu on an Intel CPU, it may take away some of the CPUs performance/overhead.

    If we're talking about a laptop, taking watts away from the CPU, and overall negatively impacting battery life will be even bigger drawbacks.
  • Nfarce - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    "But the main reason they haven't is because unless youre one of the few people who got an AMD APU because your total CPU+GPU budget is around 100$ it doesn't make any sense."

    Did you even read the hardware I have? Further, reading benchmarks from the built in 4600 graphics of i3/i5/i7 CPUs shows me that it is a wasted resource. And regarding impact on CPU performance, considering that higher resolutions (1440p and 4K) and higher quality/AA settings are more dependent on GPU performance than CPU performance, the theory that utilizing onboard CPU graphics with a dedicated GPU would decrease overall performance is debatable. I see little gains in my highly overclocked 4690K running at 4.7GHz and running at the stock 3.9GHz turbo frequency in most games.

    All we have to go on currently is 1) Intel HD 4600 performance alone in games, and 2) CPU performance demands at higher resolutions on games with dedicated cards.
  • UtilityMax - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    I am guessing that they didn't get together because dual-graphics is very difficult to make to work right. AMD is putting effectively the same type of GPU cores on the discrete GNUs and integrated APUs, and it still took them a while to make it work at all.
  • V900 - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    I guess one thing we all learned today, besides the fact that AMDs APUs still kinda blow, is that there is a handful of people, who are devoted enough to their favorite processor manufacturer to seriously believe that:

    A: Intel is some kind of evil and corrupt empire ala Star Wars.

    B: They're powerful enough to bribe/otherwise silence "da twooth" among all of Anandtech and most of the industry.

    C: 95% of the tech press is corrupt enough to gladly do their bidding.

    D: Mantle was an API hardcoded by Jesus Christ himself in assembler language. It's so powerful that if it got widespread, no one would need to buy a new CPU or GPU the rest of this decade. Which is why "they" forced
  • V900 - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    Which is why "they" forced AMD to cancel Mantle. Then Microsoft totally 110% copied it and renamed it "DX12".

    Obviously all of the above is 100% logical, makes total sense and is much more likely than AMD releasing shoddy CPUs the last decade, and the press acknowledging that.
  • wingless - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    AMD DOMINATION!!!!! If only the charts looked like that with discrete graphics as well....
  • Vayra - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Still really can't see a scenario where the APU would be the best choice. Well, there may be one: for those with a very tight budget and wish for playing games on PC regardless. But this would mean that AMD has designed and reiterated a product that would only find its market in the least interesting group of consumers: those that want everything for nothing... Not really where you want to be.
  • UtilityMax - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Well, right now arguably, if one has $500 bucks or less for a gaming PC build, it would be better to buy a Playstation 4. High end builds is where the money is in the enthusiast gaming market.

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