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The evergreen Cinebench benchmark is powered by Maxon's Cinema 4D rendering engine. It's multithreaded and comes with a 64-bit executable. The test runs with a single thread and then with as many threads as possible.

The Speed Shift-equipped i5-8250U has a 3.4 GHz maximum Turbo speed, compared to the 3.8 GHz the i7-7700HQ can claim. Without Speed Shift and within a 35W TDP, however, the i7-7700HQ only ekes out a small advantage over the 15W part.

Cinebench is really about its multithreaded portion, though. Here, the higher TDP and beefy Alienware cooling system of the i7-7700HQ become an asset, as it allows the chip to boost higher than the i5-8250U can and for longer periods. The i5-8250U delivers a nice boost over its 15W cousin, but it can't keep up with the i7-7700HQ.

Blender rendering

Blender is a widely-used, open-source 3D modeling and rendering application. The app can take advantage of AVX2 instructions on compatible CPUs. We chose the "bmw27" test file from Blender's selection of benchmark scenes to put our CPUs through their paces.

Blender makes liberal use of AVX instructions, and that fact plays to the i7-7700HQ's advantage again. As with Cinebench, the 7700HQ's better cooling and greater thermal headroom allows it to run way ahead of the more constrained i5-8250U.

Corona rendering
Here's a new benchmark for our test suite. Corona, as its developers put it, is a "high-performance (un)biased photorealistic renderer, available for Autodesk 3ds Max and as a standalone CLI application, and in development for Maxon Cinema 4D."

The company has made a standalone benchmark with its rendering engine inside, so it was a no-brainer to give it a spin on these CPUs. The benchmark reports both a rays-per-second and time-to-completion figure, and we're reporting the time-to-completion result.

Sorry to repeat myself, but the i7-7700HQ can't help but run though the Corona benchmark much faster than the i5-8250U. Still, the 15W Kaby Refresh part handily outpaces the i5-7200U.

Handbrake transcoding
Handbrake is a popular video-transcoding app that recently hit version 1.0.7. To see how it performs on these chips, we're switching things up from some of our past reviews. Here, we converted a roughly two-minute 4K source file from an iPhone 6S into a 1920x1080, 30 FPS MKV using the HEVC algorithm implemented in the x265 open-source encoder. We otherwise left the preset at its default settings.

The i5-8250U makes waiting for a transcode to finish much less onerous than it is with the i5-7200U.

CFD with STARS Euler3D
Euler3D tackles the difficult problem of simulating fluid dynamics. It tends to be very memory-bandwidth intensive. You can read more about it right here. We configured Euler3D to use every thread available from each of our CPUs.

This multithreaded and bandwidth-hungry benchmark yokes both the faster memory and extra threads of the i5-8250U to take a lead over the i5-7200U. The DDR4-2666 RAM and higher TDP of the i7-7700HQ still gives it the overall win in Euler3D, though.