Intel & Windows Security Patch Benchmark (Pre-Firmware)

By Published January 06, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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This content piece was highly requested by the audience, although there is presently limited point to its findings. Following the confluence of the Meltdown and Spectre exploits last week, Microsoft pushed a Windows security software update that sought to fill some of the security gaps, something which has been speculated as causing a performance dip between 5% and 30%. As of now, today, Intel has not yet released its microcode update, which means that it is largely folly to undertake the benchmarks we’re undertaking in this content piece – that said, there is merit to it, but the task must be looked at from the right perspective.

From the perspective of advancing knowledge and building a baseline for the next round of tests – those which will, unlike today’s, factor-in microcode patches – we must eventually run the tests being run today. This will give us a baseline for performance, and will grant us two critical opportunities: (1) We may benchmark baseline, per-Windows-patch performance, and (2) we can benchmark post-patch performance, pre-microcode. Both will allow us to see the isolated impact from Intel’s firmware update versus Microsoft’s software update. This is important, and alone makes the endeavor worthwhile – particularly because our CPU suite is automated, anyway, so no big time loss, despite CES looming.

Speaking of, we only had time to run one CPU through the suite, and only with a few games, as, again, CES is looming. This is enough for now, though, and should sate some demand and interest.

The firmware update and follow-up IHV/ISV updates are expected to be pushed on January 9th, Tuesday, on show start. We won’t be able to test them until our return from CES.

As for what can be extrapolated from this data, it’s not much. We’d suggest not running to reddit with sensationalized “zero difference!” headlines, because we’ve got (1) a small sample size, (2) a limited set of benchmark applications, (3) Windows update only, no ucode update. There is more yet to come, and more applications to be tested; as of now, a few applications have already shown performance degradation from the Meltdown fix, which is known to add latency to processing. This is largely indisputable. The extent to which these patches impact most users, however, must still be researched. Most of that will wait til post-9th. We’ll establish the baseline today.

Testing Platform

GN Test Bench 2017 Name Courtesy Of Cost
Video Card GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 - -
CPU Intel i7-7700K GamersNexus  $330
Memory See charts Gskill -
Motherboard Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 7 Z270X Gigabyte $240
Power Supply NZXT 1200W HALE90 V2 NZXT $300
SSD Plextor M7V
Crucial 1TB
GamersNexus -
Case Top Deck Tech Station GamersNexus $250
CPU Cooler Kraken X62 Asetek -

NOTE: THESE TESTS ARE NOT COMPARABLE TO PREVIOUS BENCHMARKS. WE ARE USING DIFFERENT HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE.

Cinebench – 7700K Pre-Meltdown Patch vs. Post-Patch

cinebench intel patch

For Cinebench, we observed a score of 198 for single-threaded performance across all tests, with differences inside of margin of error. We also observed roughly equivalent performance for the multithreaded test, also inside margin of error for this particular application.

POVRay – 7700K Pre/Post-Patch

povray intel patch

povray pps intel patch

POVRay placed us at 123-seconds elapsed on all multithreaded render tests, or about 554 seconds elapsed for the single-threaded test. No change here. This had us at about 2128-2131 pixels per second multithreaded, and 472-473 pixels per second single-threaded. No change.

Firestrike – Pre/Post-Patch

3dmark firestrike intel patch

Firestrike had our FPS scores as on this chart – again, no change. Not even close to a change outside of margin of error.

Timespy – Pre/Post-Patch

3dmark timespy intel patch

TimeSpy showed the same. No change between 16299.192 and 16299.125.

Blender – Pre/Post-Patch

blender 2.78a intel patch

blender 2.79 intel patch

Blender 2.78a had us at 42 minutes render time for the GN Monkey head test, which is equal between both Windows version tests. We also observed 37 minutes for Blender 2.79 and the monkey heads, or about 47 minutes for the GN logo render. No change, even on this wide timescale.

Game Benchmarks After Meltdown Patch, Before Microcode

aots intel patch

civilization turn time intel patch

wd2 intel patch

As for a few games, we saw no appreciable difference in Ashes of the Singularity, where we measured differences within margin of error. Don’t go running to reddit with this 1FPS difference, claiming that one is faster than the other – they’re within test variance. They are functionally the same.

Watch Dogs 2 also proved equal: The differences were functionally 0 – literally 0, in the case of AVG FPS, and nearly 0 in the case of 1% and 0.1% lows.

Finally, Civilization VI time to complete turns is also about the same, at 17.76 to 17.8 seconds per turn. This is within variance – our difference is 4 hundredths of a second.

Conclusion

See the start of the article, basically. All this tells you is that, with our specific configuration, with the specified patches tested, with the specified applications, you can expect a near-0, within-error change in performance on a 7700K. What we do not know, of course, is (1) impact to other applications from the Windows patch, and (2) the impending microcode change’s impact. Further, we do not know the difference between other Windows update changes and the Meltdown emergency fix, as Microsoft pushes more than one change per update. We cannot isolate them for testing.

That’s all for now.

See you at CES.

Editorial: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

Last modified on January 06, 2018 at 6:54 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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