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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  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    If this abomination is all about mobile applications, no wonder one has to search with a flashlight for an hour to find a notebook on AMD, and then it`s some 15 inch tn+ crap.

    And in daily use it`s extremely easy to spot a difference, since systems on AMD will always have wailing CO.
  • jabber - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Yep the OEMs just don't want or need AMD anymore.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Works great for extremely micro builds
  • harrkev - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Ummm. Not quite. For desktop, the APU concept might be mostly irrelevant unless on a tight budget. For laptop people (like me), the APU is everything. To get a discrete graphics chip, you are generally looking at north of $1000. If your laptop budget is around $500 or so and you want to play the occasional game, the APU matters. An AMD processor will game circles around and Intel chip if using built-in graphics.

    My dream machine right now is a laptop with a high-end Carrizo and a displayPort to drive big monitors.
  • jabber - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Just a shame you'll never see one in the stores!
  • LogOver - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    AMD integrated graphics is better than Intel's... but only if we're talking about desktop offerings with 95W TDP. AMD mobile offering (low power apus with "good enough" graphics) is pretty much non existent.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    coming from someone who had an AMD APU notebook, no. AMD's graphics are nowhere near as nice in mobile, where the low TDP hammers them. When it comes to games, intel's hd 4600 ran circles around the a10-4600m and the a10-5750m. framerates were not only higher, but much more consistent. AMD's kaveri chips were 15 watt, and still couldnt match 15 watt intel chips.
  • geekfool - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Did you look into why i3-4130T ended up faster in x265 than i3-4330? The latter is strictly faster and there is no turbo that could difference things due to individual chip quality. I suspect some of those results must be wrong, which sorta casts shadow onto all of them.

    (I hope you didn't mix different x265 versions, because the encoder is continually being optimised and thus newer versions do more work per MHz than older ones? You don't ever say what parameters/data the the tests use, so it is hard to guess what went wrong).
  • rp1367 - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    It seems you have a better idea in designing silicon than AMD. Why not make your own silicon so that you will be impressed by your pwn expectation? The APU is a revolutionary design and no silicon maker can match this on general purpose use from office to gaming.
  • jeffry - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    I think this PC setup is a good option. we all shop on budgets, i dont know anyone who does not. if more money comes in, say, 6-12 month later, i would just buy a dedicated GPU (~150 bucks) and thats it...

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