PCMark Vantage Overview

The PCMark suite of benchmarks has become a staple in our selection of tests for processors, motherboards as well as other PC components and the Futuremark group has just released the first major update to it since the release of PCMark05. Come see how the latest CPUs from Intel and AMD stack up in this new benchmark!


The new PCMark Vantage benchmarking application was released just this past week in its inaugural 1.0.0 version.  This new software was developed with Vista at its heart and actually requires it to run – sorry XP users.  This iteration of the software is very different than the previous PCMark05 that we have come to utilize here at PC Perspective.  This time around the Futuremark team focused mainly on consumer scenarios rather than just pure hardware performance.  Think of this as move away from synthetic testing to a more application-driven testing model.

The Futuremark team sums it up best:

“PCMark Vantage provides the PC industry, IT media, and consumers with an overall PCMark performance score based on Windows Vista application tests, single and multi threaded CPU, graphics and hard disk drive (HDD) tests. Additionally, in a departure from previous versions of the product, PCMark Vantage shifts its focus from only providing pure hardware performance-analysis results, to generating accurate performance ratings based on popular Windows Vista Consumer Scenarios ranging from media and entertainment to productivity and communication.”

Since this is our first time using the PCMark Vantage software, I’m going to include descriptions of each and every test that the software runs through along with the benchmark results for it. This way, you can see how the results are derived and what tests you are going to particularly interested in. 

PCMark Suite

The PCMark Suite is a collection of various single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics and HDD test sets with the focus on Windows Vista application tests. Tests have been selected to represent a subset of the individual Windows Vista Consumer Scenarios. PCMark Suite includes CPU, Graphics, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and a subset of Consumer Suite tests. Note: Only the PCMark Suite will provide a PCMark Score.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage Benchmark Overview - General Tech 19

Our computers play an important role in our lives these days. We rely on them to store and help us relive our memories as digital photos. We use them to watch the latest high definition TV broadcasts and movies. They entertain all ages with exciting, graphically detailed games. When we play today’s games, high performance graphics cards, CPUs and HDDs help us avoid irritating delays and sluggish performance. Online music shops have changed the way we purchase music, letting us buy exactly the tracks we want, right from home. Transcoding our audio files from one format to another is much quicker and easier using high performance CPUs. Cataloguing our music library is a breeze for fast and powerful HDDs. As we spend more time online, and share music and files, security is more important than ever before. To minimize our security maintenance tasks, high performance CPUs and HDDs are recommended. Our busy lives find us hard at work, balancing multiple tasks; with little time for breaks. It’s the same for our computers.

PCMark Suite includes the following tests:
  • Suite Tests
    • Memories 1 & 2
    • TV and Movies 1 & 2
    • Gaming 1 & 2
    • Music 1 & 2
    • Communications 1 & 2
    • Productivity 1 & 2
  • CPU Test
    • Data encryption, Data decryption, Data compression, Data decompression
    • CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize)
    • Audio transcoding
    • Video transcoding
    • Text editing
    • Web page rendering
    • Windows Mail
    • Windows Contacts
    • CPU game test
  • Graphics Test
    • Video playback
    • GPU game test
  • HDD Test
    • 6 HDD Tests total
    • HDD Tests use new 4K block size*
    • All HDD Tests use RankDisk using Intel’s IPEAK Storage Performance Toolkit
* WinTrace is used to record the HDD traces
* AnalyzeTrace is used to analyze precisely what the traces are doing
* RankDisk: a Futuremark modified version that it is non-destructive and runs in a temporary sandbox file.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage Benchmark Overview - General Tech 20

We are starting with a completely new metric here, so the scores are just starting to filter in.  So far, in our first run of the default PCMark Vantage test suite the winners and losers might be a bit surprising. At the top of the list is the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 with a score of 5413; that’s 23% faster than the next competitor.  As the only quad-core processor in our testing for this initial article we can see that multi-threaded applications are a big part of the new testing software.

Looking at the other processors, the E6750 and X6800 match up pretty well against AMD’s 6000+ and 5600+ AM2 processors.  You might be surprised to see the 2.66 GHz E6750 with a better result than the 2.93 GHz X6800 CPU – I know I was.  Obviously the 1333 MHz front-side bus that the E6750 sports is helping it out in multiple areas.

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