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Category: Windows 10

Testing XPRT compatibility with Windows 11

Last week, Microsoft announced that the Windows 11 GA build will officially launch Tuesday October 5, earlier than the initial late 2021 estimate. The update will start rolling out with select new laptops and existing Windows 10 PCs that satisfy specific system requirements, and only some Windows 10 PCs will be eligible for the update right away. Through a phased Windows Update process, additional Windows 10 PCs will be able to access the update throughout the first half of 2022.

Between the phased Windows 11 rollout and the pledge Microsoft has made to continue Windows 10 support through October 2025, it will likely be a while before the majority of Windows users transition to the new version. We hope the transition period will go smoothly for the XPRTs. However, because we designed three of our benchmarks to run on Windows 10 (HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT), we might encounter compatibility issues with Windows 11.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be testing HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT on beta versions of Windows 11, and we’ll test again after the GA launch. In addition to obvious compatibility issues and test failures, we’ll note any changes we need to make to our documentation to account for differences in the Windows 11 installation or test processes.

We hope that testers will be able to successfully use all three benchmarks on both OS versions throughout the transition process. If problems arise, we will keep our blog readers informed while exploring solutions. As always, we’re also open to feedback from the community, so if you are participating in the Windows Insider Program and have encountered Windows 11 beta compatibility issues with any of the Windows-focused XPRTs, please let us know!

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers (Round 3)

In November, we published our WebXPRT 3 browser performance comparison, so we decided it was time to see if the performance rankings of popular browsers have changed in the last nine months.

For this round of tests, we used the same laptop as last time: a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM running Windows 10 Home, updated to version 1909 (18363.1556). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 3 three times each on five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. For each browser, the score we post below is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, the four Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced very close scores, though we saw about a four percent lower score from Brave. In this round of testing, performance improved for all four of the Chromium-based browsers. Chrome, Edge, and Opera still produced very close scores, but Brave’s performance still lagged, this time by about seven percent.

Firefox separated itself from the pack with a much higher score and has been the clear winner in all three rounds of testing. During our second round of testing in November, every browser except for Chrome saw slightly slower performance than the first round. In these latest tests, all the Chromium-based browsers produced significantly higher scores than the second round. When discussing browser performance, it’s important to remember that there are many possible reasons for these performance changes—including changes in browser overhead or changes in Windows—and most users may not notice the changes during everyday tasks.

Do these results mean that Mozilla Firefox will always provide you with a speedier web experience? As we noted in previous comparisons, a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends on several factors, such as the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browser’s default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 10 or Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how browser performance comparison results translate to your everyday experience. Do you have insights you’d like to share from using WebXPRT to compare browser performance? Let us know!

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers (Round 2)

It’s been nine months since we’ve published a WebXPRT 3 browser performance comparison, so we decided to put the newest versions of popular browsers through the paces to see if the performance rankings have changed since our last round of tests.

We used the same laptop as last time: a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM running Windows 10 Home, updated to version 1909 (18363.1139). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 3 three times on five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. The posted score for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, the four Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced scores that were nearly identical. Only Mozilla Firefox produced a significantly different (and better) score. The parity of the Chromium-based browsers was not surprising, considering they have the same underlying foundation.

In this round of testing, the Chromium-based browsers again produced very close scores, although Brave’s performance lagged by about 4 percent. Firefox again separated itself from the pack with a higher score. With the exception of Chrome, which produced an identical score as last time, every browser’s score was slightly slower than before. There are many possible reasons for this, including increased overhead in the browsers or changes in Windows, and the respective slowdowns for each browser will probably be unnoticeable to most users during everyday tasks.

Do these results mean that Mozilla Firefox will provide you with a speedier web experience? As we noted in the last comparison, a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browsers’ default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 10 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All of these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how browser performance comparison results translate to your everyday experience.

What are your thoughts on browser performance? Let us know!

Justin

HDXPRT 4 v1.2 and the HDXPRT 4 source code package are available

This week, we have good news for HDXPRT 4 testers. A few weeks ago, we discussed the fact that Adobe removed the trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) 2018 from the PSE download page. HDXPRT 4 used PSE 2018 for the Edit Photos scenario, so this change meant that new HDXPRT testers would not be able to successfully install and run the benchmark.

Fortunately, we were able to adapt the Edit Photos scripts to use the new trial version of PSE 2020, and have incorporated those changes in an updated HDXPRT 4 build (v1.2). It’s available for download on HDXPRT.com, along with an updated user manual. Apart from slightly different instructions for installing the trial version of PSE 2020, all aspects of the installation and test process remain the same. We tested the new build and found that individual workload and overall scores did not vary significantly, so scores from the new build will be comparable to existing HDXPRT 4 scores.

We also posted the HDXPRT 4 source code and build instructions on the HDXPRT tab in the Members’ Area (login required). If you’d like to review XPRT source code, but haven’t yet joined the community, we encourage you to join! Registration is quick and easy, and if you work for a company or organization with an interest in benchmarking, you can join for free. Simply fill out the form with your company e-mail address and select the option to be considered for a free membership. We’ll contact you to verify the address and then activate your membership.

We apologize to HDXPRT testers for the inconvenience over the last several weeks, and we thank you for your patience while we worked on a solution. If you have any questions about HDXPRT or the community, please feel free to ask!

Justin

An updated HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installer package

Today, we published an updated HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installer package that addresses an issue brought to light by HDXPRT testers and our own follow-up testing. We’ve also encountered an issue caused by anti-virus program interference during the HDXPRT installation process, so we’re providing steps for a workaround below. Neither the updated build nor the workaround steps affect the comparability of previous HDXPRT 4 test scores.

The first issue involves the hdxprt4.exe setup file. You may recall that the main updates in HDXPRT 4 v1.1 were the inclusion of the latest version of HandBrake and the ability for testers to choose whether to target a system’s discrete graphics card during the Convert Videos workload. Prior to today’s update, the HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installation package mistakenly included an old hdxprt4.exe setup file, which likely caused problems for testers attempting to target discrete graphics. We apologize for this oversight. The installer package we published today includes the correct hdxprt4.exe setup file.

The second issue is that during the installation process, Windows Security and other anti-virus programs may quarantine some of the AutoIt executables that HDXPRT 4 uses to install real-world applications, and the incomplete installation process will cause the test to fail. The files do not contain viruses, but the anti-virus programs may assume that the user has not granted HDXPRT permission to install the ancillary files. One of the executables currently triggering this behavior is the MediaEspresso ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file. To check whether your test system is quarantining this file, navigate to the C:\Program Files (x86)\HDXPRT4\HDXPRT4_Workloads\HDXPRT4_Tests folder. Once the installation process is complete, the folder should contain 32 files, including ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe. If you see all 32 files, you’re ready to test. (Note: Once you run the test, HDXPRT 4 will add HDXPRTRunLog.txt to the folder, so you might see 33 files.)

If you see only 31 files, ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe is likely missing. To restore it, use the following steps:

1. Open the Windows Security app.
2. Select Virus & threat protection.
3. Under Current threats, select Protection history.
4. Check to see if Windows Security removed any threats around the time you installed HDXPRT 4.
5. If so, click the drop-down menu on the right side, where Windows Security lists the severity of the threat, and look for a false positive that reports the ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file as Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml.
6. Click the Actions drop-down menu, and select Restore.
7. Navigate to the C:\Program Files (x86)\HDXPRT4\HDXPRT4_Workloads\HDXPRT4_Tests folder, and check to see where the ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file is present.

Windows Security and other anti-virus programs may quarantine other HDXPRT installation files in the future. If your first HDXPRT 4 run fails to complete successfully, we suggest checking the anti-virus quarantine for HDXPRT-related files.

We also updated the HDXPRT 4 User Manual to include the steps above. If you have any questions about any of these topics, please feel free to contact us.

Justin

Planning for the next TouchXPRT

We’re in the very early planning stages for the next version of TouchXPRT, and we’d love to hear any suggestions you may have. What do you like or dislike about TouchXPRT? What features do you hope to see in a new version?

For those who are unfamiliar with TouchXPRT, it’s a benchmark for evaluating the performance of Windows 10 devices. TouchXPRT 2016, the most recent version, runs tests based on five everyday scenarios (Beautify Photos, Blend Photos, Convert Videos for Sharing, Create Music Podcast, and Create Slideshow from Photos) and produces results for each of the five scenarios plus an overall score. The benchmark is available two ways: as a Universal Windows App in the Microsoft Store and as a sideload installer package on TouchXPRT.com.

When we begin work on a new version of any benchmark, one of the first steps we take is to assess its workloads to determine whether they will provide value during the years ahead. This step involves evaluating whether to update test content such as photos and videos to more contemporary file resolutions and sizes, and can also involve removing workloads or adding completely new ones. Should we keep the TouchXPRT workloads listed above or investigate other use cases? Should we research potential AI-related workloads? What do you think?

As we did with MobileXPRT 3 and HDXPRT 4 earlier this year, we’re also planning to update the TouchXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use. We’re just at the beginning of this process, so any feedback you send has a chance to really shape the future of the benchmark.

On a related note, TouchXPRT 2016 testers who use the installer package available on TouchXPRT.com may have noticed that the package has a new file name (TX2016.6.52.0_8.19.19.zip). Microsoft requires developers to assign a security certificate to all sideload apps, and the new TouchXPRT file contains a refreshed certificate. We did not change the benchmark in any other way, so scores from this package are comparable to previous TouchXPRT 2016 scores.

Justin

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