AMD R7 1700 vs. Intel i7-7700K Game Streaming Benchmarks

By Published July 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm
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“Good for streaming” – a phrase almost universally attributed to the R7 series of Ryzen CPUs, like the R7 1700 ($270 currently), but with limited data-driven testing to definitively prove the theory. Along with most other folks in the industry, we supported Ryzen as a streamer-oriented platform in our reviews, but we based this assessment on an understanding of Ryzen’s performance in production workloads. Without actual game stream benchmarking, it was always a bit hazy just how the R7 1700 and the i7-7700K ($310 currently) would perform comparatively in game live-streaming.

This new benchmark looks at the AMD R7 1700 vs. Intel i7-7700K performance while streaming, including stream output/framerate, drop frames, streamer-side FPS, power consumption, and some brief thermal data. The goal is to determine not only whether one CPU is better than the other, but whether the difference is large enough to be potentially paradigm-shifting. The article explores all of this, though we’ve also got an embedded video below. If video is your preferred format, consider checking the article conclusion section for some additional thoughts.

 

Polling the Audience

Not long ago, we posted polls to determine what services our viewers prefer when streaming or viewing streams. We also sought to understand the optimization settings used by the audience, H264 settings, and upload bit-rate for streams. These strawpolls led us to understand that our audience primarily uses “Veryfast” and “fast” for the h264 encode settings, and so we opted to split the difference and go with “faster.” We also learned that most of our viewers/readers prefer streaming at 6-10Mbps, which is likely more a limitation of network quality than anything else – but still, an important factor. Our upload speed supports up to ~40Mbps, so we decided to again split the difference and run tests at both 6Mbps and 10Mbps. Encoding difficulty increases as bit-rate does, making bit-rate just one of many potential optimization or benchmark opportunities.

Although we performed some testing with Twitch at 720p60 / 6Mbps, we ultimately scrapped the testing due to account-side issues that made us question numbers. Instead, given that we already have the ability to stream high bit-rates and qualities on YouTube, we went with YouTube streaming at 1080p60 with bit-rates of 6Mbps and 10Mbps. OBS was used as the streaming service (version 19.0.3 6/22/17 branch), with encoder settings configured to H264 and “Faster.” Video output was fixed to 1080p60, the games were played back at 1080p (Windowed), with physical logging tools for current draw and thermals (additional software, like HWINFO, was also used for validation). We are configuring DiRT to Ultra, 1080p, windowed, with 4xMSAA and Advanced Blending. DOTA2 is at max settings, Vsync off.

Each set of tests went through multiple passes over a couple of days (as we had other tests going on). Numbers are pulled from monitoring tools and OBS logs. The OBS UI text for "dropped frames" does not report the same numbers. Additional information is pulled from the output file.

Difficulties of Stream Testing & Multitasking Benchmarks

We’re testing a few things here, and stream benchmarking serves to fulfill our interest in executing a “multitasking” benchmark. Multitasking benchmarking has long been a request of our audience, it’s just been a matter of what to use as a test, and how to best ensure said test remains repeatable without haphazard variables. This test is one of the heaviest possible multitasking workloads for a gamer, as the CPUs will be juggling live gaming (which requires low input latency and fast response), live streaming/encoding, and also video playback. We’re playing back the stream as it airs, adding another repeatable, measurable benchmark component that doesn’t overly complicate our controls/constants.

We’re interested in both the streamer experience and viewer experience with this testing. The viewer receives the output stream, and so our goal is to ensure a stable, reliable output. The streamer is still ultimately playing a game, and so the framerate must be acceptable for the game. Some games require more consistent and lower frametimes than others, like CSGO or DOTA2, and others diminish this requirement. As a general rule, streaming is a balance between player framerate/experience quality and viewer framerate/experience quality. We only have so many CPU resources to spare, and so the divvying up may sometimes require optimizations – like process priority given to the encoding tool, which is something we ultimately did test.

This balance is important. Even if OBS or XSplit can keep up with the game and encode/deliver 100% of frames to the streaming service, it doesn’t mean that the viewer experience is good. It just means frames are being delivered. You could encode & deliver 100% of frames at 20FPS, so the numbers look good – every frame made it out – but the actual playback is choppy.

Disclaimer

Anyway, before getting in to testing, keep in mind that stream benchmarking has an awful lot of variables. We can only speak for our numbers, and won’t be making sweeping statements that should be taken as truth for all games, all encoders, or all streaming services. Still, this gives good insight as to the performance of each processor, and establishes a stronger starting point for our stream benchmarking. These tests began with the i9-7900X review, but we’ve since improved methods and results can no longer be compared to previous tests (for example, the test duration has now been lengthened to 300s, and we’ve increased our iterations per test).

Other Test Methods, Specs, & Information

Most the testing methodology is defined above, but the rest is below:

Intel Stream Bench
  Component Provided by Price
CPU Intel i7-7700K GamersNexus $310
Cooler Kraken X62 Asetek
GamersNexus
-
Motherboard Gigabyte Z270 Gaming 7 Gigabyte $230
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz Corsair $135
GPU EVGA GTX 1080 FTW1 EVGA $600
Storage 1 Plextor M7V Plextor $96
Storage 2 Crucial MX300 1TB GamersNexus $280
PSU NZXT Hale90 v2 1200W NZXT $270
Case Open-air test bench GamersNexus -

 

AMD Streaming Test Bench
  Component Provided by Price
CPU AMD R7 1700 AMD $270
Cooler Kraken X62 Asetek
GamersNexus
-
Motherboard ASUS Crosshair 6 Hero Gigabyte $213
RAM Geil EVO X 3200MHz AMD $120
GPU EVGA GTX 1080 FTW1 EVGA $600
Storage 1 Plextor M7V Plextor $96
Storage 2 Crucial MX300 1TB GamersNexus $280
PSU NZXT Hale90 v2 1200W NZXT $270
Case Open-air test bench GamersNexus -

Fixed typographical error pertaining to video card origin and price. The card used for each bed was the exact same unit.

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Last modified on August 03, 2017 at 5:16 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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