AMD Ryzen Mobile Benchmarks And Performance: Taking On Intel In Laptops

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HP Envy x360 With Ryzen Mobile Battery Life & Final Thoughts

In the following benchmark, we've configured a custom 1080p HD video loop test to prove out battery life with our group of machines. In all tests, Windows 10 Quiet Hours have been enabled and the displays are calibrated with lux meters on pure white backgrounds to as close to 115 lux as possible. For the average laptop this is usually somewhere between a 45 - 60 percent brightness setting.

Since laptop displays significantly affect power consumption and battery life, it's important to ensure a level playing field with respect to brightness of the display for battery testing. However, since many laptop displays vary in brightness at each respective setting in an operating system like Windows, this calibration with the meter is critical to ensure all displays are set to as near identical brightness as possible before testing.

We also have to underscore, unfortunately, that the model of HP Envy x360 15z that we had to work with here has a woefully dim display. On battery power, even at a 100 percent brightness setting, the machine was only able to output 100 lux on our meter. Since our test methodology has always been to calibrate all laptop displays tested to this modest light output level in order to achieve a level playing field, we had to set the HP machine at 100 percent brightness to run our tests. As a result, this may not be AMD Ryzen Mobile's best foot forward, so to speak, with respect to battery life. In any event, below are the results we achieved with this particular Ryzen Mobile-powered laptop. 

Ryzen Mobile HD Video Loop Battery Run Down Test

There's no other way to slice it -- in a word, "weak." Frankly, we were somewhat surprised, so we tested the machine again and again, only to arrive at the same result with minimal variability. This 15-inch HP machine has a 55.8 Whr battery on board and with that power plant it's only able to play 1080p content with the VLC video player for about 4.25 hours. Perhaps it was the fact that we had to peg display brightness on battery power to get a reasonable output level, or perhaps it was that Ryzen 5 Mobile is still needs optimization for video playback. Either way, the end result here is not encouraging. 

We will say, however, that we setup the same test with a couple of machines while plugged in and with 100 percent battery charge, so we were as close to running off line power as possible. We noted that the Acer Swift 3 with a Core i7-8250U 8th Gen CPU and GeForce MX150 pulled about 9 Watts at idle and 13 - 16 Watts under the light duty load of our HD video loop test. The HP Envy x360 15z with Ryzen 5 Mobile pulled about the same 9 Watts at idle and with similar panel brightness, but under the load of video playback with VLC, pulled 20 Watts with peaks to 30 Watts in spots. We also quickly tested CPU utilization whether running VLC or the Windows 10 video player, and saw Ryzen 5 2500U CPU utilization oscillated at a low 4 - 12 percent. So, it appears at least with respect to VLC and video playback, that Ryzen Mobile with Vega 8 graphics is more power-hungry or perhaps has a bit more driver maturity to undergo to be fully optimized. 

Update, 11/22/2017 - 9:15PM

We decided to drop the panel brightness level on the HP Envy x360 15z that we tested here, to a 50% setting and re-run our HD video loop battery rundown test. At this Windows 10 brightness level, the machine pushes out a meager 38 lux of brightness and well below our 115 lux setting for the rest of our test group. Regardless, under this setting the Ryzen Mobile-powered HP machine was able to only deliver another 25 minutes of up-time, or a total of 278 minutes on a single charge. Unfortunately, that still places the machine in the bottom quadrant of our test group. It does, however, eliminate some of the variability relative to this particular laptop's display and its power draw. Now we're down to two variables that could be affecting power draw -- beyond just AMD Ryzen Mobile and its Vega GPU with respect to HD video playback -- driver optimization for Ryzen Mobile or the system's 7200 RPM hard drive. 

Update, 11/24/2017 - 9:33AM

HP pushed a Radeon graphics driver update to the Envy x360 15z so we re-ran our HD video rundown test. The machine picked up 19 minutes of up-time as a result, so we've updated the graph above to reflect this time. 

HP Envy x360 15z With Ryzen Mobile Performance And Final Thoughts

Fitting for the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, we've got a lot to digest with our first look at AMD Ryzen Mobile platform. So, let's break down the main course and various side dishes. First, the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U quad-core mobile processor we tested generally offered competitive performance to Intel's latest 8th Gen quad-core Kaby Lake-R offering in various, highly-refined and optimized machines like the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360. Presumably, a Ryzen 7 2700U would look even better in a similar match-up, with a bit more top-end clock speed.

Looking at Ryzen Mobile's graphics prowess, as we hoped, the platform offers significantly better performance with its Vega 8 IGP in comparison to Intel's latest UHD 620 IGP in the 8th Gen Core series line-up. In some tests it offered 60 - 70 percent faster frame rates and was able to make unplayable titles playable at 1080p. Granted our short window for testing was mostly relegated to some light-duty, legacy game titles, but as an aside, we also quickly tested current gen games like Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Here we saw playable frame rates at 1080p with Low to Medium image quality settings. 
HP Envy x360 with Ryzen Mobile Tablet Mode
The early indicators for AMD's Ryzen Mobile platform are strong, both on the CPU and GPU side of the equation. With respect to battery life, however, the picture for us is still pretty murky and we're going to reserve judgement for now. Frankly, we don't feel like the HP machine we picked up at retail is a very compelling solution overall. Though it's priced right at $729, its dim display and pokey hard drive left a lot to be desired and ultimately hampered our testing from getting a clean A/B comparison in certain spots. With Ryzen Mobile in a more premium configuration, with a higher quality more power-efficient display and fast SSD, our view of its performance profile could have been significantly different.

In fact, AMD may be in a peculiar spot with Ryzen Mobile. The delineation line may be drawn for some users between making the jump from integrated graphics, to whether or not discrete graphics solutions, like NVIDIA's GeForce MX150, might be available in a given model of machine. As we showed, a GeForce MX150 puts up next level performance over Ryzen 5 2500U's Vega 8 IGP at least, though the question still remains how a Ryzen 7 2700U would compare with 2 more Radeon CUs and a touch more clock speed at its disposal. 

Ultimately, it will come down to what AMD's OEM partners like HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Dell can pull together for laptop designs with Ryzen Mobile. It would seem the product lends itself very well to premium configurations, if battery life can be managed in thin and light designs. Either way you slice it, our early view of Ryzen Mobile is encouraging with some real bright spots, coupled with a bit of uncertainty as well. We'll just have to see what comes to market from the major players in the months ahead. What's very clear, however, is that AMD is back on competitive footing again with Intel in mobile processors as well, with Ryzen and Vega delivering a solid 1-2 punch.

  • Strong CPU performance
  • Superior IGP for light-duty gaming
  • Great performance per dollar value
  • Questionable battery life

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