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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  • testbug00 - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Well, Broadwell is supposed to be out in 2013 according to Tick Tock. So, Intel's at least 1.5 years to their party. However, doing smaller nodes is REALLY hard. So, hard to blame them.
  • azazel1024 - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Err, no. Haswell was 2013 and Ivy was 2012. Broadwell would have been summer of 2014. It ended up being a mostly paper launch in late fall 2014, with parts meaningfully showing up winter of 2015 and Intel mentioned up front that Broadwell would be a mostly mobile release.

    So they are perhaps 6 months late on Broadwell, but unless something different happens, Intel is still claiming summer/fall for Skylake, which puts them right back on the original schedule (and probably also why Broadwell is limited, Intel has known about their 14nm node issues for awhile, so they limited it to get the node out there and more experience on it and then jumping in to Skylake with both feet).
  • Ian Cutress - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    I have the i5-5200U here in a BRIX that I can test, though it's worth noting that the 5200U list price is $281, more than any APU.
  • takeship - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    I was just thinking it wouldn't be too far off as a total cost comparison - a tall body i5 nuc + win 8 license + ram and scrounged up HDD/ssd is just about $600, which isn't too far above what a simple box with this would run. And my suspicion is that you don't give up too much gfx perf going down to the i3 and saving a hundred. Bandwidth being the bottleneck that it is.
  • Refuge - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    This SKU is new, but the chip is just a re-badge.
  • extide - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    A rebadge from what, exactly? No... It's not a rebadge, its just a lower model sku in a lineup that we have already seen. That is not what a rebadge is. We have not seen this core in this (or a similar) config released with a different sku before.
  • Edens_Remorse - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    Quit confusing the ignorants(shut up spell check, it's a word).
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    untill by the end of the year you start to see DX12 benchmarking :) and this more power silicon gets a free bump.

    25W is btw the difference in just a light bulb near your desktop or the minimal powerconsumption you have of dedicated gpu for the lack of onboard Intel GPU power :)
  • Michael Bay - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Yes, while all the action is in mobile segment. Where, you guessed it, AMD has no foothold.

    Not even mentioning DX12 being largely irrelevant this AND next year outside of useless synthetics.
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Carrizo is all about Mobile :)

    useless synthetics and benchmarking is all where Intel shines, the result bares show only better result, reall life daily use you don't even notice.

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