Meet the brand new, more durable Cinebench R20 benchmark: We take a look at it on Xeon and Threadripper

Maxon’s well-liked Cinebench CPU benchmarking program simply bought a long-overdue replace to deliver it as much as parity with fashionable PCs. We’ve already tried it, on two of essentially the most highly effective CPUs you should purchase right now, and have outcomes to share, together with some historic context and suggestions for utilizing it with your individual CPU. 

Slightly Cinebench historical past

The free Cinebench R20 app is meant to switch Cinebench R15, which first noticed service in 2013. To present you an thought of how far we’ve are available in {hardware}, the top-end desktop CPU in 2013 was a quad-core, 4th-gen Haswell Core i7, whereas an enthusiast-level chip was a six-core Third-gen Ivy Bridge-E Core i7.

As we speak, Intel’s top-cat client CPU is the Core i9-9980XE (accessible on Amazon) with 18 cores. And though probably not supposed for shoppers with out the checking account of Invoice Gates, the corporate additionally simply pushed a 28-core Xeon W-3175X.

AMD, in the meantime, is making 8-core CPUs rain and provides a 32-core Threadripper 2990WX for high-end shoppers at a crazy-reasonable worth.


Maxon’s new Cinebench R20 working by its paces on a 28-core Xeon W-3175X.

To maintain Cinebench R20 extra related, the corporate has elevated the workload complexity, elevated reminiscence use, and adopted the newest rendering engine from the product it’s primarily based on: Cinema 4D R20. The engine itself options assist for Intel’s Embree raytracing know-how, which has additionally been adopted by Valve, AutoDesk, UbiSoft, V-ray, Blender, and Corona, amongst others. Beneath the hood, the R20 engine helps AVX, AVX2, and AVX512 instruction units. As a result of we are able to by no means have sufficient, the benchmark now helps as much as 256 render threads.

Benchmark politics

Maxon’s Cinebench refresh arrives with some historic baggage. At one level, earlier variations of Cinebench had been tainted by accusations that it hobbled AMD efficiency by utilizing the Intel compiler, which favored Intel’s CPUs over AMD’s. Maxon, nevertheless, denied this and advised Haveaheartsavealife in 2017 that regardless of what the FTC maintained, it didn’t use the notorious “CPU ID” choices that favored Intel chips.

It’s all water beneath the bridge now, as AMD itself used Cinebench R15 to exhibit simply how briskly its Ryzen CPUs had been. Maxon claims all is peace and concord. “Maxon additionally works very carefully with Intel and AMD to check Cinebench on not solely the newest CPUs however the subsequent technology as nicely. This enables Maxon and Cinema 4D to remain on the leading edge and ship the efficiency required to fulfill the highest manufacturing corporations,” Maxon officers advised us.

cinebench r20 store IDG

Cinebench R20 will solely be accessible within the retailer

Home windows Retailer solely

One factor that’s sure to lift some blood stress is how one can—and may’t—get Cinebench. Beforehand, anybody may obtain Cinebench R15 and set up it as a standalone Win32 app. With Cinebench R20, the free benchmark can solely be downloaded straight by the Home windows Retailer. (Cinebench R15 remained unchanged for years, with the one replace coming after Apple broke the installer on MacOS.)

You don’t should log in or create a Home windows Retailer account to put in it. However you do want Web entry, and also you don’t have any management over variations. If Cinebench R20.1 got here out in six months, it may invalidate your earlier assessments, as a result of you’ll be able to’t run the older model.

We requested Maxon officers a couple of standalone installer, and the reply wasn’t encouraging. “It’s uncertain Maxon will likely be releasing a standalone Win32 installer model right now. Cineware is a by-product of Maxon’s flagship product Cinema 4D, used to create ‘high-end’ 3D animation,” Maxon officers advised Haveaheartsavealife. “Cineware is supposed to check the {hardware} and OS artists will truly be utilizing in manufacturing. Creatives are continuously pushing the boundaries of {hardware} and OS efficiency. Due to this fact, Cinebench too should push these boundaries in an effort to present correct comparisons.”

Whereas the fixed updates will annoy skilled reviewers, there’s one other challenge that can rankle much more. Maxon forbids benchmarking websites from posting stand-alone versions of the test. It’s UWP or bust. 

Cinebench R20 on 28-core Xeon W-3175X and 32-core Threadripper 2990WX

Make no mistake, Cinebench R20 is a big change–a tougher test for today’s faster CPUs. To see how big a difference it makes, we fired up a 28-core Xeon W-3175X and a 32-core Threadripper 2990WX to test on both Cinebench R15 and Cinebench R20.

Like Cinebench R15, Cinebench R20 features a single static scene that is rendered out. In the chart below, you see the performance of the 32-core Threadripper 2990WX and the performance in red, and Intel’s Xeon W-3175X in blue. The shorter bars are Cinebench R15 (also freshly run on the machines), while the longer bars are Cinebench R20.

With Cinebench R15, the Xeon W-3175X clocks in just under 3.6 percent faster. We’d call that a tie mostly. With Cinebench R20, the margin increases to just under 10 percent in favor of the 28-core Xeon W-3175X. That’s a decent uptick in performance for the Xeon over Threadripper. When you remember that the Xeon has 28 cores vs. the Threadripper’s 32, it’s not a great look for Threadripper.

cinebench r20 nt IDG

The 32 cores of the Threadripper 2990WX make it damn near even with the higher-clocked 28-core Xeon W-3175X in the much older Cinebench R15. Move to Cinebench R20, and the gap opens considerably.

That’s just the default test, using all of the CPU cores available. We also ran the test’s optional single-threaded test. Cinebench R20 surprisingly puts the Threadripper 2990WX slightly ahead by about 2 percent—which again—is well within the margin of error, and what we’d consider a tie. Still, that’s a decent swing from Cinebench R15, which put the Xeon W-3175X ahead by just under 10 percent.

cinebench r20 1t IDG

Single-threaded performance of the Xeon W-3175X drops back a bit with Cinebench R20, but we’d probably call it a tie.

We’re actually surprised by the score here, as we thought the higher clock speeds of the Xeon W-3175X would easily put it ahead. It’s possible the Xeon’s performance actually loses some ground in single-threaded tests when AVX, AVX2 or AVX512 is used, as Intel allows the CPU to shift down for the more difficult AVX workloads.

Maxon said the test increases the computational workload eightfold. In casual observation, we noted about 5GB of RAM being used during runs on both machines. Power consumption didn’t seem to change much: Both systems hit similar peaks between Cinebench R15 and Cinebench R20.

Total time to run on the 28-core Xeon W-3175X was about 29 seconds, while the 32-core Threadripper 2990WX took about 32 seconds. For comparison, Cinebench R15 runs on the Xeon and Threadripper took about 9 seconds, respectively.

Goodbye, OpenGL

One last thing we should note is how the new version jettisons OpenGL performance testing. That’s a small loss, as OpenGL on consumer-level graphics cards in Windows has always been lackluster. For those who want to measure OpenGL GPU performance, other tests will do a better job.

cinebench options IDG

You can essentially loop Cinebench by selecting a minimum run time for the test and selecting a custom number of cores to test.

How to run Cinebench R20

If you’re ready to dip your toes into the testing waters, Cinebench R20 is a great start. To install it, simply go to the Windows Store and search for “Cinebench,” and install it.

Once installed, you should reboot your machine, and disconnect it from the network to prevent it from updating in the background. It’s also recommended that you disable or pause virus testing, and shut down other applications to prevent them from influencing the score.

When ready, fire up Cinebench from the Start menu and push the Run button. You should run the test at least three times and average all three if you’re looking for more reliable results. If you’re looking for pure performance runs, give the machine a minute or two between runs (consider even longer rest periods on a laptop.)

To measure single-core performance, select File > Advanced benchmark, which will reveal a button for CPU (Single Core).

To stress-test your system, go into File > Preferences and set a Minimum Test Duration. Set, say, 3,600 seconds, and Cinebench R20 will loop the workload on the given amount of threads for an hour.

Xeon W-3175X 28-core Intel CPU Gordon Mah Ung

Interpreting Cinebench R20 results

When talking about the results you get from a 3D rendering test, you should put it in the proper perspective. Cinebench R20 is a test to measure how a computer (Windows 10 or MacOS) renders 3D using the latest CPU instruction sets. It’s not a GPU test. It’s not an SSD test. It’s almost purely a CPU test that tells you how a PC will perform rendering 3D models.

That doesn’t necessarily tell you how a PC will operate in Microsoft Office or Google Chrome or even Photoshop, because very few consumer-level applications will actually scale to the number of cores available today.

Still, as a tool to measure approximate levels of performance under multi-threaded loads (and single-threaded loads) it’s a repeatable, reliable test and a welcome update from Cinebench R15.

cinebench thread scaling xeon w 3175x IDG

We like to use Cinebench R15 (and probably now R20) to give us an idea of performance across different amount of CPU cores.

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