PC Mark 7 Performance Review
Reviewed by: Indybird
Reviewed on: June 12, 2011
Price: Free - $39.95 and $995 for Pro
Just as Futuremark's 3DMark suite of software tests your computer's 3D graphics capabilities, PCMark is a full PC benchmark based are real-world tasks. Today we have PCMark 7; the latest in the PCMark range. This version contains a series of tests ranging from web browsing to gaming graphics to browsing music. In addition to revamped benchmark set, Futuremark has added a new online service that enables users to "validate, store, share and compare" their benchmark results with other users from all around the world. Much like 3DMark 11, there are 3 versions to choose from; Basic, Advanced and Professional. Basic is is free with unlimited uses, but is limited to only the main benchmark and has limited options for benchmark results. Advanced costs about $30 and will contain all of the benchmarks and online features. Professional Edition, at $995, is aimed at corporate use and adds the more advanced features such as custom testing options, automated benchmarking and priority customer support.
New in PCMark 7 is the list of benchmarks. The tests are now arranged into 7 separate benchmarks that make use of 25 different workloads. These 7 benchmarks target specific areas of computer usage.
The first test is the PCMark Suite. This measures overall system performance and is the test that will return you an official PCMark score. Here you'll find HD video playback, image manipulation, web browsing, DirectX 9 graphics and Windows Defender, picture and gaming storage performance.
Next is the Lightweight Suite. This, much like the regular PCMark test, measures overall system performance, but is tailored for entry level systems. It includes image manipulation, text editing, web browsing, and picture, music and application storage performance.
The Productivity Suite measures performance scenarios using Internet and office applications. Tests here include text editing, web browsing and Windows Defender and application storage performance.
The Entertainment Suite runs tests that involve your computer's media and gaming capabilities. This test includes video playback & transcoding, multi-tab web browsing, DirectX 9 graphics, a series of DirectX 10 tests, and music and gaming storage performance.
The Creativity Suite covers the major performance scenarios that involve creative imaging and video editing. The workloads included are video transcoding, image manipulation and picture and video storage performance.
The Computation Suite tests the pure computing power of the system. The included workloads are video down scaling, video transcoding and image manipulation.
Lastly, the System storage suite tests the storage performance of the main system drive. This tests the storage performance in Windows Defender, importing pictures, video editing, adding music, starting applications, gaming and media center.
Now with the feature set out of the way let's get some baseline test scores.
PCMark 7 testing provides overall system performance scores from its various benchmarks. The tests conducted are the six primary benchmarks at default settings, while comparisons are made between multiple systems.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD USB3
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3 12800 2x2GB
- Video Card: XFX HD5870 1GB
- Power Supply: OCZ 700W Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW SATA
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
- Case: NZXT Phantom
- Processors: Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz 100 x 34
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IV Extreme
- Memory: Mushkin 996805 Redline PC312800 6-8-6-24 1600MHz 4GB
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD5870
- Power Supply: Mushkin 1000W Joule Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
After the simple installation, users are prompted to enter their registration code or continue using the Basic Edition. Running PCMark 7 is as simple as it gets; there's absolutely no options relating to the benchmarks themselves. From the benchmarks tab you choose the test suites you would like to run. Strangely, you cannot create a test with custom workloads. Next is the results tab. From here you can view, load, save and export your results in addition to submitting your results online. The log tab is just that - a log of tests run in the past. On the help tab you'll find the help and support link, along with your version and registration details.
With every new iteration of benchmarking software comes a new scoring scale. The difference in numbers between the Core i7 2600K system and the Phenom X4 955 are about right for stock settings. Using these two very common systems, we are given a basic reference of the scale for comparison in future reviews.
The application itself is very straightforward and not surprisingly, user friendly. Installation and setup do not get in the way of a streamlined benchmarking process. Benchmarking itself is also easier than ever, albeit at the slight cost of customization. There are six primary benchmarks which are fully automated at specific settings. The inclusion of a light-weight benchmark, means that the benchmark won't take unusually long or produce disproportionately low scores on entry-level systems. The cherry on top of PCMark 7, is that the basic version maintains all of the core features of the program, allowing a much larger user-base. Though there was nothing notably wrong with PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 has improved on the design with a free version that facilitates a larger user-base, a user-friendly interface and an overall streamlined benchmarking process.