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PCMark Vantage

Unfortunately results in PCMark Vantage, the latest test suite from Futuremark, weren’t as clear cut. Rather than a series of tests designed to torture a particular subsystem, the new PCMark tests the system in 7 different tasks, generates a composite score for each test, and using some complex maths, generates a final score from that. So for all that trouble, it’s no surprise that the final score generated shows little variance between the different modes of operation we setup on the Phenom 9850.

Trying to find any single test that has a heavy weighting towards processor performance was a little tricky. That being said, the tests for rendering and encoding video (TV and Movies) and the productivity tests made the most sense to use for focused CPU testing. Performance differences in the Productivity test were negligible, but the TV and Movies test produced a 4% performance increase when overclocked. This isn’t really anything to write home about. Looks like we’ll have to manually encode some video and audio to really test this processor.

Multimedia Testing

Futuremark’s benchmarking suites give a decent representation of system performance, but sometimes a much more precise instrument is needed to test a particular component in a computer. In the case of a CPU like the Phenom 9850, video and audio encoding are as good a test as any.

For video encoding we used Nero Recode 2.0. This video encoder supports many of the different portable formats the average user may use to re-encode their favourite content, and it’s fully multithreaded. This allows it to push any processor to maximum, showing how well it performs in pure processing. We chose the iPod conversion due to the overwhelming popularity of Apple’s little white MP3 player.

The movie of choice needed to be something long with a lot of detailed action and bright scenes. I chose Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones for this task. The results from that were in line with what we’ve seen so far, and a little easier to decipher than the PCMark Vantage scoring. It goes without saying that overclocked performance was better then stock speeds. However many reviews have shown that the Phenom 9850 performs at par with, or better then its Intel counterparts in media encoding. The performance jump of 14% from just a 12% overclock does fall in line with that.

Moving from video encoding to audio compression, we used the LAME MP3 encoder and Exact Audio Copy to compress a full length CD into V0 quality MP3s. Our CD of choice for this test was Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace from Foo Fighters. EAC was set to use 4 threads in the hope of putting 100% stress on all four cores of the Phenom 9850, and it did for a very short amount of time. Audio encoding really isn’t the processor whore it used to be, and the tests performed at both stock and overclocked speeds took less then a minute, with the overclocked run of course taking less time.

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