PCMark 8 Review
Reviewed by: Guest_Jim_*
Reviewed on: June 13, 2013
PCMark 8 Introduction & Closer Look:
There are certain companies that any computer enthusiast knows because of product reliability and quality. Among these is Futuremark, which makes the popular 3DMark ® and PCMark ® benchmarks, the latter of which will soon be celebrating a wide release of its newest version, PCMark 8, later this month. Because of the number of hardware launches coming in early June though, Futuremark has decided to ship the Professional Edition early for press and professional use. The Basic and Advanced Editions will be released later, when they are ready.
The PCMark benchmarks are designed to test the performance of computers with regards to the regular tasks of writing, web browsing, casual gaming, and more. PCMark 8, being the newest, has several new features, including tests for battery life and tests using select applications from Adobe and Microsoft. It has also departed from the standard of reporting a single score for a computer, instead giving the scores for the specific benchmarks it has, which I will return to later. For now, we are going to look at the different editions:
- PCMark 8 Basic Edition – FREE
- Complete performance measurement for your PC.
- Includes Home, Creative and Work benchmarks.
- Test everything from tablets to desktop PCs.
- Easy to use, no technical know-how needed.
- Free online account to manage your results.
- A professional level tool now available for free!
- PCMark 8 Advanced Edition - $49.95
- Benchmark with Adobe & Microsoft applications.*
- Test your SSDs and HDDs with the Storage test.
- Measure the battery life of your tablet or notebook.
- Run individual workloads to fine-tune your system.
- Get in-depth hardware monitoring graphs.
- Automatically save your results offline.
- PCMark 8 Professional Edition - $1495.00
- Licensed for business use.
- Command line automation.
- Additional Storage tests (coming soon)
- Private offline results option.
- Export results as XML.
- Priority customer support.
"* PCMark 8 is compatible with Adobe Creative Suite 6, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Office 2010 or later. Applications must be installed on your system to run the benchmark."
There are five benchmarks and 25 tests included with PCMark 8, with two more benchmarks and eight more tests dependent on the Adobe and Microsoft Office versions you have installed. As I do not have the compatible Adobe software, my system was only able to run the three additional Microsoft Office tests, which look at Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint performance. The different tests can be used by more than one benchmark, such as the Writing test, which is run in the Home, Creative, and Work benchmarks, though the Batch Photo Editing test is only used in the Creative benchmark.
The first benchmark listed is the Home benchmark, which tests your computer's ability to run certain common tasks. It includes the two Web Browsing tests, the Writing test, Photo Editing test, Video Chat test, and Casual Gaming test. This makes the test ideal for low-cost and low-power computers.
The Creative benchmark analyzes performance for entertainment and media tasks, such as editing and gaming. It uses the two Web Browsing tests; the Photo Editing and Batch Photo Editing tests; the Video Editing test; the Media To Go tests, which involve video and music; the Mainstream Gaming test; and the Video Group Chat test. The targets of this benchmark are mid to high-range computers.
The Office benchmark looks at a computer's performance for the tasks expected of a work computer. It only uses three tests: the two Web Browsing tests and the Writing test. No media tests are run as the typical office computer lacks those capabilities.
The Storage benchmark is to stress the drives connected to your computer, whether they are solid state drives, hard disk drives, or a hybrid design, and internal or external. Its tests use workload traces from Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, World of Warcraft, and Battlefield 3. As these traces were recorded from the actual programs, they represent a real-world test, instead of synthetic statistics.
The new Applications benchmark will open compatible, installed software and run it through a sequence of tasks. The compatible software includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from Microsoft Office 2010 or newer, and Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and After Effects from Adobe Creative Suite 6 and Adobe Creative Cloud. The tasks these software are put through including opening a file, editing it, and then saving or exporting it.
Finally PCMark 8 also features a new 'Battery life' option, which loops the selected benchmark or test(s) until the computer's battery has less than 20% charge left. It can be connected to external instrumentation for use with third-party power measurement equipment.
As given earlier in the listings of the different edition features, the Storage and Applications benchmarks as well as the Battery life option are only available in the paid versions. This is not terribly surprising though as those three benchmarks are likely not going to be of much use to anyone outside of the hardware or news industry.
On the next page is the data on how my computer performed and its specs. An unfortunate issue complicates the data though, which will be explained.
PCMark® is a registered trademark of Futuremark Corporation.
Testing Setup & Results:
As mentioned on the previous page, I ran into an issue when running PCMark 8. One of the Web Browsing tests repeatedly gets stuck whenever it is run for the second time during a benchmark. This prevents me from completing the standard benchmarks that use it, as they all run three passes to get consistent results. Futuremark is aware of the issue as it has been reported by multiple people running Windows 7. I am confident the developers will be able to find and fix it.
While this is definitely a major problem, it is not insurmountable. One of the features of the Advanced and Professional Editions is the Tuning section, where any test or collection of tests can be run. The raw data from these tests is then provided to the user for tuning their system. Something available to anyone is the PCMark 8 Technical Guide (available on Futuremark's website), which includes a great deal of useful information, including how the raw data is processed to arrive at the reported scores, which Tuning does not give you. Sadly, the calculations for arriving at the Storage scores are not provided, so I cannot give them to you.
Armed with that information, I ran the 28 tests I am able to, collected the raw data, and following the Technical Guide, calculated my scores. Sadly I have nothing to compare these to, and I cannot recommend them being compared to proper PCMark 8 scores. Of course, a benchmark write-up would be of little interest without scores, so here they are, but my computer's specifications first:
- Processor: AMD Phenom II 720 BE, 4-core, @3.40GHz (17.0x200)
- Cooling: Corsair H50 with Push-pull Akasa 120mm fans
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO 785G
- Memory: Corsair Dominator 2x2 GB and G.Skill Ripjaws 2x4 GB (12 GB total) @ 1600MHZ 9-10-9-28
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB (797/1594/1950)
- Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB SATA
- Power Supply: Corsair 750TX
- OS: Windows 7- Home Premium 64-bit
- NVIDIA GeForce 320.18 WHQL Driver (64-bit)
As I do not have data to create interesting graphs, I will instead describe some of the tests in greater detail with the different scores. The tests, if they run in a special window, run within a window and not at fullscreen. Some tests though have no window, besides the progress meter at the bottom of the screen.
PCMark Home benchmark: 269.74865
The Web Browsing tests open a simple browser created for the tests and starts a local server to host the pages it opens. The two tests are meant to simulate visiting a social networking site and checking out an online retailer.
The Casual Gaming test runs the Firefly test first from 3DMark06, and later used in PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7 where it was used as a DirectX 9 test.
PCMark Creative benchmark: 64976.82696
The Mainstream Gaming test has two parts, and both are tests from 3DMark 11. They are run in a 1280x720 window, but otherwise use the same settings as the Performance preset from that graphics benchmark.
The Photo Editing test loads 32 TIFF image files with resolutions from 2674x1506 and 8576x5696. One at a time the images have a color transformation applied to it 20 times within a preview image. The Batch Photo Editing test is similar but applies the transformation to all of the images, before saving them.
PCMark Work benchmark: 17202.54532
The Writing test opens documents in a custom text editor and has it perform common operations such as adding to the text, copying and pasting, inserting pictures, and saving. The initial document size is 53.5 MB and the final document is 67.2 MB.
PCMark Microsoft Office Applications benchmark: 1929.05859
To run this series of tests, the applications are started and files loaded into them. Sections are then copied from one file to another, along with having additional text, data, or images added. For Word, the file size starts at 3.25 MB and ends at 57 MB, while Excel takes two initial files at 4.62 MB and 2.33 MB, and makes a single 4.18 MB file. PowerPoint's initial file is 27.1 MB and after some adjustments, it is saved as a 2.83 MB PDF.
With the issue preventing me from using PCMark 8 as intended, it is hard to comment on the scores. From what I have seen though, it looks like a good tool for testing a computer's capabilities, when it comes to everyday functions, and some more interesting stats concerning storage.