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Category: Windows 8

HDXPRT: see how your Windows PC handles media tasks

Over the last several weeks, we reminded readers of the capabilities and benefits of TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, and BatteryXPRT. This week, we’d like to highlight HDXPRT. HDXPRT, which stands for High Definition Experience & Performance Ratings Test, was the first benchmark published by the HDXPRT Development Community, which later became the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. HDXPRT evaluates the performance of Windows devices while handling real-world media tasks such as photo editing, video conversion, and music editing, all while using real commercial applications, including Photoshop and iTunes. HDXPRT presents results that are relevant and easy to understand.

We originally distributed HDXPRT on installation DVDs, but HDXPRT 2014, the latest version, is available for download from HDXPRT.com. HDXPRT 2014 is for systems running Windows 8.1 and later. The benchmark takes about 10 minutes to install, and a run takes less than two hours.

HDXPRT is a useful tool for anyone who wants to evaluate the real-world, content-creation capabilities of a Windows PC. To see test results from a variety of systems, go to HDXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from many different Windows devices.

If you’d like to run HDXPRT:

Simply download HDXPRT from HDXPRT.com. The HDXPRT user manual provides information on minimum system requirements, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to configure your system and kick off a test. Testers running HDXPRT on Windows 10 Creators Update builds should consult the tech support note posted on HDXPRT.com.

If you’d like to dig into the details:

Check out the Exploring HDXPRT 2014 white paper. In it, we discuss the benchmark’s three test scenarios in detail and show how we calculate the results.

If you’d like to dig even deeper, the HDXPRT source code is available to members of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, so consider joining today. Membership is free for members of any company or organization with an interest in benchmarks, and there are no obligations after joining.

If you haven’t used HDXPRT before, give it a shot and let us know what you think!

On another note, Bill will be attending Mobile World Congress in Shanghai next week. Let us know if you’d like to meet up and discuss the XPRTs or how to get your device in the XPRT Spotlight.

Justin

An update on TouchXPRT 2016

We’ll be releasing the MobileXPRT 2015 white paper tomorrow. It contains lots of information about MobileXPRT 2015 that you won’t find anywhere else. We hope you’ll find it very informative.

A couple of weeks ago, we released the design document for TouchXPRT 2016 (login required). This week, we put the first build of TouchXPRT 2016 into testing. It’s a Universal Windows app that runs on Windows 10 tablets, PCs, and phones. This means that TouchXPRT can now run on a wider variety of devices. However, it also means that TouchXPRT 2016 will not be backward compatible with Windows 8 and 8.1.

Given the current state of the SDKs, installing the test builds on phones is more complicated than we would like. We’re looking into ways to simplify the install before releasing the community preview. Testing on phones is particularly important because we made many of the UI changes to enable TouchXPRT to work acceptably on a small display.

We’ll keep you informed as testing proceeds. We’re hoping to release the community preview in the next couple of weeks.

Eric

One now, one later

Windows 10 has been on our mind this week.

Last week, we explained why the Notes test in WebXPRT would not complete when running in Edge on Windows 10. We’ve implemented the fix we discussed and have finished testing the updated versions of WebXPRT 2013 and WebXPRT 2015. We’ll release them by the end of the week. Results from the new versions are comparable with results from the existing versions.

In the current Windows 10 Mobile Beta, WebXPRT 2015 does not scroll correctly in portrait mode. It does scroll correctly in landscape mode, so, as a workaround, one can run it that way on the Windows 10 Mobile Beta.

Speaking of Windows 10 Mobile, we’ve talked before about TouchXPRT 2016 and how its purpose is to compare Windows 10 across different device types. However, Microsoft has said that Windows 10 Mobile won’t be available until after the release of Windows 10 on PCs. More importantly, the APIs and development tools won’t be final until July 29. Once Microsoft releases those tools, we’ll do our builds and tests and release a community preview.

That being said, TouchXPRT 2014 is the tool to use for comparing Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. By the time mobile devices running Windows 10 are available, TouchXPRT 2016 will be available.

Eric

Something old, something new

Last week, we talked about porting TouchXPRT 2014 to be a Windows 10 universal app. This will let it run on devices running Windows 10 and those running Windows 10 mobile.

We won’t be retiring TouchXPRT 2014 when we release the Windows 10 universal app version. Windows 8 doesn’t support Windows 10 universal apps, but Windows 10 will be able to run Windows 8 applications. This means you’ll also be continue to be able to use TouchXPRT 2014 to test Windows 8 based systems, as well as to compare Windows 8 and Windows 10 performance.

The results from TouchXPRT 2014 and the universal app version of the benchmark won’t be compatible. Even though the test scenarios will be the same, the porting process means that we have to change the APIs the benchmark is using and rebuild the benchmark with different tools.

We’re currently debating changing the way we version the benchmarks. As the number of versions of each benchmark increases, it may make sense to move away from year-based versioning. This will obviously affect what we call the new Windows 10 version of TouchXPRT. If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know!

Eric

More than Chromebooks

Recently, we got a question from AnandTech asking how hard it would be to get CrXPRT to run on Chrome on Windows.

The short answer is that getting it to run isn’t difficult. However, as we have written about many times in the past, it’s not enough for a benchmark to simply run on a device. The results it produces must be comparable. Even if the benchmark appears to run identically, small differences in timers or how the platform reports its state can have a big impact.

To date, we have been dealing only with Chromebooks of various flavors. However, we’re now testing CrXPRT on a much wider range of devices. The results are generally looking reasonable, although we’re finding some minor issues. For example, the battery information isn’t as granular on some devices as it is on Chromebooks.

As soon as we are sure that CrXPRT is returning reasonable results on the new classes of devices, you’ll be the first to know!

In other news, we’re planning to remove TouchXPRT 2013 from the Windows Store on February 16. We wanted to have a period of overlap with TouchXPRT 2014 to allow labs time to transition. It’s been over 6 months, and we feel this is a good time. TouchXPRT 2013 will remain available in the members’ area of the BenchmarkXPRT.com Web site.

Eric

Seeing the whole picture

In past posts, we’ve discussed how people tend to focus on hardware differences when comparing performance or battery life scores between systems, but software factors such as OS version, choice of browser, and background activity often influence benchmark results on multiple levels.

For example, AnandTech recently published an article explaining how a decision by Google Chrome developers to increase Web page rendering times may have introduced a tradeoff between performance and battery life. To increase performance, Chrome asks Windows to use 1ms interrupt timings instead of the default 15.6ms timing. Unlike other applications that wait for the default timing, Chrome ends up getting its work done more often.

The tradeoff for that increased performance is that waking up the OS more frequently can diminish the effectiveness of a system’s innate power-saving attributes, such as a tick-less kernel and timer coalescing in Windows 8, or efficiency innovations in a new chip architecture. In this case, because of the OS-level interactions between Chrome and Windows, a faster browser could end up having a greater impact on battery life than might initially be suspected.

The article discusses the limitations of their test in detail, specifically with regards to Chrome 36 not being able to natively support the same HiDPI resolution as the other browsers, but the point we’re drawing out here is that accurate testing involves taking all relevant factors into consideration. People are used to the idea that changing browsers may impact Web performance, but not so much is said about a browser’s impact on battery life.

Justin

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