Page 4 of 6 - Test setup, benchmarking
Now you know what PCMark Vantage is testing, and what it looks like, it's time to actually put this new benchmark to the test. To do this, I've used PCMark's default testing suite on both of the Windows Vista systems I had readily available to me - One Intel Core 2 Duo setup, and one older Athlon 64 X2-based system. As PCMark Vantage ships with both x86 and x64 (in other words, 32-bit and 64-bit) executables, and I'm running Windows Vista x64 on both systems, I've naturally made full use of those 64-bit capabilities here. For the exact specifications of both systems, take a look below.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
- 2GB Corsair PC6400 DDR2 RAM
- MSI 975X Platinum PowerUP Edition (Socket LGA 775, PCI Express)
- 250GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 hard drive
- Sony DVD-ROM
- NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB
- 1000W Thermaltake Toughpower power supply
- Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit Edition)
- Athlon 64 X2 4200+
- 2GB Corsair PC3200 DDR RAM
- ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard (Socket 939, PCI Express)
- 74GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive
- Pioneer DVD-ROM
- NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB
- 600W Thermaltake Toughpower power supply
- Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit Edition)
Benchmarking with PCMark Vantage
As we just mentioned, for our testing here today we'll be using PCMark Vantage's default testing suite, so let's go through this suite test by test to see how our two systems compare, and discuss exactly what is being tested.
First things first, here's our overall system score, and unsurprisingly the newer Intel system leads by a large margin of almost 59%.
The first 'Memories' test deals with CPU-based photo manipulation, while also testing hard disk performance by importing a number of pictures into Windows Photo Gallery - In this discipline, the Intel system clocks in some 35% faster.
The second 'Memories' task examines video transcoding performance, converting a High Definition VC-1 video file into the Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9) format. This is very much a CPU-centric task, and the Intel-based system leads by 54% here.
The first 'TV and Movies' test examines simultaneous playback and transcoding of a video file, utilising a VC-1 HD-DVD for both facets of the test. It's another CPU-intensive segment of the benchmark, and the Core 2 Duo CPU simply wipes the floor with its rival here.
The second 'TV and Movies' test again plays back the same HD-DVD content, but this time while loading Windows Media Center to also stress the hard disk. This turns in around a 45% victory for the Intel system.
The first of Vantage's two 'Gaming' tests handles both the decompression of data (a la loading a game level or the like), while running a 3D rendered GPU test. The GeForce 8800 GTS on show in the Intel-based rig here is a big part in giving it a large win here.
The second gaming test explores the CPU side of 3D gaming performance, while also testing hard disk performance when loading a game. This proves to be very tight indeed performance-wise between our two test systems.
The PCMark suite's first music test is a three-way one, handling web page rendering (a la browsing an online music store), converting MP3s to the Windows Media Audio format, and adding a bunch of music to Windows Media Player. The Intel system leads by close to 50% here.
Music test two simply looks at CPU-based audio transcoding performance, converting WAV files to a lossless version of WMA. This CPU-intensive benchmark sees the Core 2 Duo sporting system lead by around 39%.
The first 'Communications' test examines e-mail handling, testing both data encryption and compression while using Windows Mail to copy a number of items. This particular workload proves to be a huge win for our Intel rig, to the tune of around 81%.
The second 'Communications' benchmark looks at web page rendering across multiple tabs, while decrypting some data and running a Windows Defender malware scan to stress the hard disk. Around 29% separates the two systems here.
Lastly, we reach the 'Productivity' testing of the PCMark suite - Test number one here simply handles a number of text editing commands, with our Intel system some 60% faster overall.
The second test here runs a search within both Windows Mail and Windows Contacts, while loading applications via the hard disk and browsing a number of Internet bookmarks.
So, there you have it, a run-down of everything that PCMark Vantage tests in its default state. It's no surprise to see the newer Intel-based system dominate here, but it is intriguing to see what a difference it makes to even basic tasks such as text editing.