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Category: Benchmark metrics

The WebXPRT 4 results viewer: A powerful tool for browsing hundreds of test results

In our recent blog post about the XPRT results database, we promised to discuss the WebXPRT 4 results viewer in more detail. We developed the results viewer to serve as a feature-rich interactive tool that visitors to WebXPRT.com can use to browse the test results that we’ve published on our site, dig into the details of each result, and compare scores from multiple devices. The viewer currently has almost 700 test results, and we add new PT-curated entries each week.

Figure 1 shows the tool’s default display. Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of a single test result, with bars arranged left-to-right, from lowest to highest. To view a single result in detail, hover over a bar to highlight it, and a small popup window will display the basic details of the result. You can then click to select the highlighted bar. The bar will turn dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer will display additional details about that result.

Figure 1: The WebXPRT 4 results viewer tool’s default display

In the example in Figure 1, the banner shows the overall score (237), the score’s percentile rank (66th) among the scores in the current display, the name of the test device, and basic hardware configuration information. If the source of the result is PT, you can click the Run info button in the bottom right-hand corner of the display to see the run’s individual workload scores. If the source is an external publisher, users can click the Source link to navigate to the original site.

The viewer includes a drop-down menu that lets users quickly filter results by major device type categories, plus a tab with additional filtering options, such as browser type, processor vendor, and result source. Figure 2 shows the viewer after I used the device type drop-down filter to select only laptops.

Figure 2: Screenshot from the WebXPRT 4 results viewer showing results filtered by the device type drop-down menu.

Figure 3 shows the viewer as I use the filter tab to explore additional filter options, such as processor vendor.

Figure 3: Screenshot from the WebXPRT 4 results viewer showing the filter options available with the filter tab.

The viewer will also let you pin multiple specific runs, which is helpful for making side-by-side comparisons. Figure 4 shows the viewer after I pinned four runs and viewed them on the Pinned runs screen.

Figure 4: Screenshot from the WebXPRT 4 results viewer showing four pinned runs on the Pinned runs screen.

Figure 5 shows the viewer after I clicked the Compare runs button. The overall and individual workload scores of the pinned runs appear in a table.

Figure 5: Screenshot from the WebXPRT 4 results viewer showing four pinned runs on the Compare runs screen.

We hope that you’ll enjoy using the results viewer to browse our WebXPRT 4 results database and that it will become one of your go-to resources for device comparison data.  

Are there additional features you’d like to see in the viewer, or other ways we can improve it? Please let us know, and send us your latest test results!

Justin

Want to know how your device performs? Explore the XPRT results database

If you only recently started using the XPRT benchmarks, you may not know about one of the free resources we offer—the XPRT results database. Our results database currently holds more than 3,650 test results from over 150 sources, including global tech press outlets, OEM labs, and independent testers. It serves as a treasure trove of current and historical performance data across all the XPRT benchmarks and hundreds of devices. You can use these results and the results of the same XPRTs on your device to get a sense of how well your device performs.

We update the results database several times a week, adding selected results from our own internal lab testing, reliable media sources, and end-of-test user submissions. (After you run one of the XPRTs, you can choose to submit the results, but don’t worry—this is opt-in. Your results do not automatically appear in the database.) Before adding a result, we also look at any available system information and evaluate whether the score makes sense and is consistent with general expectations.

There are three primary ways that you can explore the XPRT results database.

The first is by visiting the main BenchmarkXPRT results browser, which displays results entries for all of the XPRT benchmarks in chronological order (see the screenshot below). You can filter the results by selecting a benchmark from the drop-down menu. You can also type values, such as a vendor name (e.g., Dell) or the name of a tech publication (e.g., PCWorld) into the free-form filter field. For results we’ve produced in our lab, clicking “PT” in the Source column takes you to a page with additional configuration information for the test system. For sources outside our lab, clicking the source name takes you to the original article or review that contains the result.

The second way to access our published results is by visiting the results page for an individual XPRT benchmark. Start by going to the page of the benchmark that interests you (e.g., CrXPRT.com) , and looking for the blue View Results button. Clicking the button takes you to a page that displays results for only that benchmark. You can use the free-form filter on the page to filter those results, and you can use the Benchmarks drop-down menu to jump to the other individual XPRT results pages.

The third way to view our results database is with the WebXPRT 4 results viewer. The viewer provides an information-packed, interactive tool with which you can explore data from the curated set of WebXPRT 4 results we’ve published on our site. We’ll discuss the features of the WebXPRT 4 results viewer in more detail in a future post.

You can use any of these approaches to compare the results of an XPRT on your device with our many published results. We hope you’ll take some time to explore the information in our results database and that it proves to be helpful to you. If you have ideas for new features or suggestions for improvement, we’d love to hear from you!

Justin

XPRT mentions in the tech press

One of the ways we monitor the effectiveness of the XPRT family of benchmarks is to regularly track XPRT usage and reach in the global tech press. Many tech journalists invest a lot of time and effort into producing thorough device reviews, and relevant and reliable benchmarks such as the XPRTs often serve as indispensable parts of a reviewer’s toolkit. Trust is hard-earned and easily lost in the benchmarking community, so we’re happy when our benchmarks consistently achieve “go-to” status for a growing number of tech assessment professionals around the world.

Because some of our newer readers may be unaware of the wide variety of outlets that regularly use the XPRTs, we occasionally like to share an overview of recent XPRT-related tech press activity. For today’s blog, we want to give readers a sampling of the press mentions we’ve seen over the past few months.

Recent mentions include:

Each month, we send out a BenchmarkXPRT Development Community newsletter that contains the latest updates from the XPRT world and provides a summary of the previous month’s XPRT-related activity, including new mentions of the XPRTs in the tech press. If you don’t currently receive the monthly BenchmarkXPRT newsletter but would like to join the mailing list, please let us know! There is no cost to join, and we will not publish or sell any of the contact information you provide. We will send only the monthly newsletter and occasional benchmark-related announcements, such as news about patches or new releases.

Justin

Working with the WebXPRT 4 source code

In our last blog post, we discussed the WebXPRT 4 source code and how you can contact us to request free access to the build package. In this post, we’ll address two questions that users sometimes ask about code access. The first question is, “How do I build a local instance of WebXPRT?” The second is, “What can I do with it?”

How to build a local WebXPRT 4 instance

After we receive your request, we’ll send you a secure link to the current WebXPRT 4 build package, which contains all the necessary source code files and installation instructions. You will need a system to use as a server, and you will need to be familiar with Apache, PHP, and MySQL configuration to follow the build instructions. WebXPRT 4 uses a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) setup on the “server” side, but it’s also possible to set up an instance with a WAMP or XAMPP stack.

The build instructions include a step-by-step methodology for setup. If you are familiar with LAMP stack configuration, the build and configuration process should take about two to three hours, depending on whether your LAMP-related extensions and libraries are current.

What you can do with a local WebXPRT 4 instance

We allow users to set up their own WebXPRT 4 instances for purposes of review, internal testing, or experimentation.

One use-case example is internal OEM lab testing. Some labs use WebXPRT to conduct extensive testing on preproduction hardware, and they follow stringent security guidelines to avoid the possibility of any hardware or test information leaving the lab. Even though we have our own strict policies about how we handle the little amount of data that WebXPRT gathers from tests, a local WebXPRT 4 instance provides those labs with an extra layer of security for sensitive tests.

We do ask that users publish results only from tests that they run on WebXPRT.com. As we mentioned in our most recent post, benchmarking requires a product that is consistent to enable valid comparisons over time. We allow people to download the source, but we reserve the right to control derivative works and which products can use the name “WebXPRT.” That way, when people see WebXPRT scores in tech press articles or vendor marketing materials, they can run their own tests on WebXPRT.com and be confident that they’re using the same standard for comparison.

If you have any questions about using the WebXPRT 4 source code, let us know!

Justin

WebXPRT in PT reports

We don’t just make WebXPRT—we use it, too. If you normally come straight to BenchmarkXPRT.com or WebXPRT.com, you may not even realize that Principled Technologies (PT) does a lot more than just managing and administering the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. We’re also the tech world’s leading provider of hands-on testing and related fact-based marketing services. As part of that work, we’re frequent WebXPRT users.

We use the benchmark when we test devices such as Chromebooks, desktops, mobile workstations, and consumer laptops for our clients. (You can see a lot of that work and many of our clients on our public marketing portfolio page.) We run the benchmark for the same reasons that others do—it’s a reliable and easy-to-use tool for measuring how well devices handle web browsing and other web work.

We also sometimes use WebXPRT simply because our clients request it. They request it for the same reason the rest of us like and use it: it’s a great tool. Regardless of job titles and descriptions, most laptop and tablet users surf the web and access web-based applications every day. Because WebXPRT is a browser benchmark, higher scores on it could indicate that a device may provide a superior online experience.

Here are just a few of the recent PT reports that used WebXPRT:

  • In a project for Dell, we compared the performance of a Dell Latitude 7340 Ultralight to that of a 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (2022).
  • In this study for HP, we compared the performance of an HP ZBook Firefly G10, an HP ZBook Power G10, and an HP ZBook Fury G10.
  • Finally, in a set of comparisons for Lenovo, we evaluated the system performance and end-user experience of eight Lenovo ThinkBook, ThinkCentre, and ThinkPad systems along with their Apple counterparts.

All these projects, and many more, show how a variety of companies rely on PT—and on WebXPRT—to help buyers make informed decisions. P.S. If we publish scores from a client-commissioned study in the WebXPRT 4 results viewer, we will list the source as “PT”, because we did the testing.

By Mark L. Van Name and Justin Greene

WebXPRT benchmarking tips from the XPRT lab

Occasionally, we receive inquiries from XPRT users asking for help determining why two systems with the same hardware configuration are producing significantly different WebXPRT scores. This can happen for many reasons, including different software stacks, but score variability can also result from different testing behaviors and environments. While some degree of variability is normal, these types of questions provide us with an opportunity to talk about some of the basic benchmarking practices we follow in the XPRT lab to produce the most consistent and reliable scores.

Below, we list a few basic best practices you might find useful in your testing. Most of them relate to evaluating browser performance with WebXPRT, but several of these practices apply to other benchmarks as well.

  • Hardware is not the only important factor: Most people know that different browsers produce different performance scores on the same system. Testers are not, however, always aware of shifts in performance between different versions of the same browser. While most updates don’t have a large impact on performance, a few updates have increased (or even decreased) browser performance by a significant amount. For this reason, it’s always important to record and disclose the extended browser version number for each test run. The same principle applies to any other relevant software.
  • Keep a thorough record of system information: We record detailed information about a test system’s key hardware and software components, including full model and version numbers. This information is not only important for later disclosure if we choose to publish a result, it can also sometimes help to pinpoint system differences that explain why two seemingly identical devices are producing very different scores. We also want people to be able to reproduce our results to the closest extent possible, so that commitment involves recording and disclosing more detail than you’ll find in some tech articles and product reviews.
  • Test with clean images: We typically use an out-of-box (OOB) method for testing new devices in the XPRT lab. OOB testing means that other than running the initial OS and browser version updates that users are likely to run after first turning on the device, we change as little as possible before testing. We want to assess the performance that buyers are likely to see when they first purchase the device and before they install additional software. This is the best way to provide an accurate assessment of the performance retail buyers will experience from their new devices. That said, the OOB method is not appropriate for certain types of testing, such as when you want to compare as close to identical system images as possible, or when you want to remove as much pre-loaded software as possible.
  • Turn off automatic updates: We do our best to eliminate or minimize app and system updates after initial setup. Some vendors are making it more difficult to turn off updates completely, but you should always double-check update settings before testing.
  • Get a baseline for system processes: Depending on the system and the OS, a significant amount of system-level activity can be going on in the background after you turn it on. As much as possible, we like to wait for a stable baseline (idle time) of system activity before kicking off a test. If we start testing immediately after booting the system, we often see higher variance in the first run before the scores start to tighten up.
  • Use more than one data point: Because of natural variance, our standard practice in the XPRT lab is to publish a score that represents the median from three to five runs, if not more. If you run a benchmark only once and the score differs significantly from other published scores, your result could be an outlier that you would not see again under stable testing conditions or over the course of multiple runs.


We hope these tips will help make your testing more accurate. If you have any questions about WebXPRT, the other XPRTs, or benchmarking in general, feel free to ask!

Justin

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