AMD Takes A Swing At Intel And Their SYSMark Benchmarks, Misses Completely

It always fun when major corporations decide to publicly slag the other one off. So to help round off your Friday with a smile, let's enjoy AMD having a good old whinge about benchmarks and bias towards Intel.

The video starts out with AMD saying "why the Federal Trade Commission has required Intel to use a disclaimer" on the SYSmark 2014 benchmark. "Choosing the wrong benchmark could result in overpaying for technology or getting a less performing PC," AMD's director of computer client products, John Hampton, starts out by saying.

Hampton and AMD engineering manager Tony Salinas then compare the biased SYSmark benchmark with others they think is fairer, namely the work accelerated test in the PCMark 8 benchmark and a "set of scripts that walked through the office suite [of programs]".

AMD's contention is that the difference between performance in the AMD laptop versus the Intel one shown is only between 6-7%, compared to the 300-plus margin with which the Intel laptop wallops its AMD competitor in SYSmark.

For reference — and you can see this in the video for yourself — the AMD laptop is a FX-8800P with an AMD Radeon R7 GPU, while the Intel laptop is an i5-5200U at 2.2GHz with an HD Graphics 5500 integrated GPU. The Intel laptop also packs 8GM of RAM, according to the visible information in PCMark 8, while the total memory for the AMD laptop is oddly reported as "0MB".

AMD does have a point here, though. Manufacturers cherry-pick things that make their products look the best all the time, although insinuating a link between Intel, SYSmark and Volkswagen's recent scandal (as Hampton did at the start of the video) is a stretch and a half.

But AMD are cherry-picking facts too. If you're going to thoroughly benchmark a system, there's nothing wrong with a tool like SYSmark that AMD says more or less exclusively tests the CPU. The trick is to use a suite of benchmarks to give you a complete picture of the system's capacity, and that includes theoretical tests alongside ones that prioritise real-world applications and programs.

And it's not like AMD's comparison is hugely fair either. PCMark 8 tests the GPU and the CPU, and the FX-8800P is AMD's top of the line APU for laptops. Intel's i5-5200U is based on the older Broadwell micro-architecture, not the newer Skylake architecture that was released later this year. On top of that, the i5-5200U didn't even have the most powerful integrated GPU among other Broadwell Core i5 mobile CPUs, let alone the latest Broadwell versions that were released last June.

Despite all of that, the Intel laptop still beat its AMD counterpart in every single test AMD showed in the video, including two of their fairer benchmarks. It just makes AMD look petty. The video starts with the tone of a current affair-style expose, only for AMD to end up deploying the same cherry-picking tactics they're accusing Intel of.

Their complaints against SYSmark aren't that helpful. Its benchmarks can be a useful yardstick for gamers looking for the highest performance possible, particularly given we're still in a world where many games are still yet to fully take advantage of multiple CPU cores. (Although with DirectX 12 around the corner, that should start to change very rapidly.)

So at the end of the day, AMD hasn't said or shown anything technically inaccurate. But their portrait of real-world performance has just as many caveats as Intel's.


    *take a swing, misses but punches self*

    It's ok AMD, we all know why people choose Intel CPU over AMD CPU.

    Amd needs to spend more time releasing updated cpu/gpu instead of rebranding hardware like they've done. Hopefully zen and polaris get them back in the game so we can finally rein in some of the ridiculous prices Intel and nvidia slaps on their stuff.

    I thought they were showing the disparity between "real world performance" and "synthetic benchmarks" at the cost of still appearing below Intel (but not by much).

    However I see that important point got missed somewhere between blind loyalty and sheer ignorance.

    Edit: This is very unfortunate. Everyone seems to be undermining competition and open technologies, while it will create a monopoly (almost already has) and drive prices higher. If you ask me AMD is doing remarkable work with what little support they are getting from the PC community.

    Good bye AMD, we will now choose between Intel-Expensive and Intel-Cheap. No need to compete with different architectures. [Sarcasm, but it may very well be the case for you already]

    Even the honest nature, they presented this information is being ridiculed, this article makes me sick to my stomach as an electronics engineer.

    Last edited 22/01/16 3:52 pm

      The honest nature that the information was presented? By comparing a top of the line APU to an outdated, mid-tier Broadwell chip while making comparisons to a company that deliberately fitted software designed to produce false readings in emissions tests?

      That's a strange take on honesty. It's better for the market if AMD can compete as strongly as possible with Intel/NVIDIA, but this won't be how they get there.

        Like I said, the point they were trying to make was missed. Instead, you talk about things out of context.
        I thought they were showing the disparity between "real world performance" and "synthetic benchmarks".

        ...However I see that important point got missed

        The rest was my opinion, you do not have to agree.

        Edit: It's just this particular article, not personal, just the way it's presented. I like your stuff.

        Last edited 22/01/16 6:50 pm

          Oh for sure, not taking it personally at all. I strongly doubt their intentions are that genuine though. This is the first in the series that I can see on YouTube; it starts out with an exceptionally melodramatic style; it ignores the advantages that SYSmark has if you're looking for raw CPU performance.

          So I think the point they're trying to make is less of a point and more a skewed marketing tool. But that's cool. We'll have more of these discussions as the year goes on (because there'll be a lot more hardware coverage, I promise you that).

          And, for the record, super looking forward to Polaris. There's a lot of excitement around Pascal, but the early bets AMD took on DirectX 12 have paid off so far and I'm excited to see how that battle plays out.

        It is honest, if it is priced accordingly.

        How are the Intel and AMD options priced? Given that we're talking about mobile components, I had trouble finding the details myself. But if the i5-5200U is the closest priced Intel part, then it is a valid comparison.

        If Intel's current generation top of the range mobile CPU is also a lot more expensive than AMD's equivalent, that isn't exactly a fair comparison either.

    Yeah, sorry AMD.

    Hardware-wise, AMD still make decent GPUs (if a little hot/noisy, Fury notwithstanding), but I honestly can't remember the last time they had a properly competitive CPU for gaming. The FX series is now, what, three years old? And even when they were new, their big, hot 8-cores were being beaten by i5s.

    Unless you're really on a budget, you'd be mad to choose AMD's CPUs for gaming.

    EDIT: Example here

    That's AMD's last real flagship desktop gaming CPU, hovering around an i3 in real-world gaming tests, not synthetic benchmarks.

    Last edited 22/01/16 3:29 pm

      I am still enjoying games on my old AMD Athlon X2 250 dual core with a low end graphics card. I just downloaded Trove for my 8 year old...runs like a dream.

      Realistically, I don't think I could find enough time to play through all of the awesome games I could find to run well on it. Of course, there are games that won't run on it, but I don't have any requirement to run some arbitrary high percentage of modern games.

        The Athlon comes from a time when AMD did actually make good (better than Intel, even) CPUs.

        That's great you don't feel the need to upgrade, but for people who ARE building new PCs, AMD is a distant, distant second.

    Nothing against AMD here but ive always been a intel man.

    i love what AMD do, but ive never play with there tech, every one know that uses them swear by them tho.

      Everyone I've known who uses AMD does indeed swear a lot.

    ive still got a phenom II 965 black edition and a HD5850 - 6 years pushing 7 now i think. im only just starting to suffer with current games. its so painful holding out to the next lot of updated, next gen cpu and gpu offerings before i make my decision on which camp i throw my money at.
    im not a one eyed supporter, but i do go for the underdog a little and hope that AMD smack it out the park with their next lot of tech - im no intel and nvidia hater though.
    good luck fellahs.

      Ah, Phenom II's and Athlon II's, those were fantastic chips when it came down to price and performance, the golden age of AMD, until the Bulldozer came along and ruined my ideal of AMD...

    Wait, AMD is still trying to compete with Intel? I thought they'd given up and just stuck to cheap, low powered pieces of crap now.

    intel is dominating because intel cpus are great, nuff said?
    ive had amd hardware and somehow im always let down whether it be CPUs or gfx cards.
    and ive been in those shoes where you tell nvidia users "AMD IS BETTER ITS SO MUCH BETTER"
    its really a case of stockholm syndrome and trying to convince yourself you didnt just waste money and you ARE getting value when really, its sub-par.
    for me i dont think il ever go back to using amd stuff, intel is reliable and powerful, and nvidia is just a powerhouse.
    thats my 2 cents

      It's not that simple, though.

      I don't hold any brand-allegiances, but I like to support companies which are doing things which I agree with [this is for all purchases, not just tech].

      And I can honestly say that at the moment, there is absolutely no question about who makes the best CPUs in the performance category. It's intel by a LONG margin. AMD isn't even in the same ballpark. APU's are another thing entirely, but I'll leave those aside.

      The problem is, the events which led us to this situation, especially after the sheer dominance of the Athlon CPUs in the late 90's/early 00's.

      This post gives a nice explanation of the ways which intel basically bought their way in front with shady business practices, dodgy compiler optimisations, and very anti-competitive behaviour, to keep AMD on the precipice of solvency.

      AMD have been investing heavily in the APU tech [and ARM], which I think is the right long term decision. But here's hoping that Zen brings them back into contention in the performance x86 market and can undo the damage done by intel over the last decade.

      I don't care if you buy intel or AMD, but a CPU market with real competition will drive innovation and provide far better products for everyone involved.

    I've got Intel CPU and AMD GPU. I have a lot of gripes with AMD's driver rollouts and clunky software. That said this article pisses me off cos the author comes off as completely subjective against AMD.

    AMD have gone from a smart bunch of engineers to a paranoid mob of tossers. I tried to love AMD, I have used them in personal PCs and work PCs both. In the end I couldn't take the crashiness of their CPUs.

    AMD is petty... They can't deliver a better product then Intel or Nvidia but they act like they are so much better morally, which they really aren't e.g. FreeSync vs G-Sync, G-Sync came out, cost a lot required you to buy a new monitor but worked as advertised, nil issues. AMD said "Oh we can do that for free, and you won't need to get a new monitor, and we will make it open for everyone to use, Nvidia is robbing you blind". It took AMD at least two years to get FreeSync out and have it working ALMOST as well but still not as well as G-Sync and there is a significant experience difference depending on which monitor you get and you still need to buy a new monitor to get FreeSync. It is cheaper though, but not enough to justify moving to AMD products.

    AMD has been trying to debunk the benchmark myth for over a decade. The fact is they are comparing their top of the line FX mobile processor to a previous generation Core i5 and they still lose by 6-7%. What happens when you compare FX to the Core i7? I bet its a huge loss, and not a good story. This is typical AMD trying to get sympathy rather than focusing on innovating. Until they can find that magic bullet like they did when it launched Athlon 64, they'll continue to swim in mediocrity.

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