Results From Benchmark Tests Completed on AVD and Cloud PC Virtual Machines


Introduction

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been testing the performance differences of Azure Virtual Machines and Windows 365 based on a set of specific criteria. This included CPU architecture, Physical hardware as in PC Virtual Machine, Microsoft Azure, Windows 365 and operating system types including Windows10, Windows11 and Server 2022.

I also wanted to understand what the difference was between an optimised and un-optimized operating system image and if there are any real benefits besides density.

In this article we will take a look at the summary test data and results of my findings from the research completed over 4 weeks.

Testing Specification

Testing was completed using Generation 1 and Generation 2 Azure Virtual Machines specifically D4as_v4 and D4ds_v4. I also included a Virtual Machine running on a Physical Machine with a Ryzen 3900x CPU in some of the tests. All Virtual Machines had the same number of CPU’s 4 and 16GB ram this includes the Windows365 VM.

For Image optimisation, I used VMware’s Optimisation tool which you can find here: https://flings.vmware.com/vmware-os-optimization-tool

The operating system types tested:

  • Windows 10 20h1
  • Server 2022
  • Windows 11

The tooling used to test the performance of the Virtual Machine was PCMark10 by UL. You can find out more about UL here: https://benchmarks.ul.com/

Testing consisted of two areas, one being basic tests which covers the common, everyday ways that people use a PC. The workloads include Web Browsing, Video Conferencing, and App Start-up time. The second test was productivity testing which measures system performance with everyday office applications. This test group includes the Spreadsheets and Writing workloads.

Lets now move on to the results.

Performance testing results

The following information shown in this article is the results of the series of tests I completed over a 4 week period.

Generation 1 Virtual Machine Testing

The first set of results I wanted to share was Generation 1 Virtual Machine benchmarks. This includes Windows365 and Windows Server 2022.

I tested both AMD and Intel for the Azure Virtual Machines; however, we could only access Intel CPU’s for Windows365 AKA cloud PC at the time of writing. Please also note that all VM’s apart from those marked as WinSrv22 are version Windows10 20H1

The test results are shown below in the graph labelled “Gen1 Before and After Image Optimisation”

You can view the graph here

The Clear winner from these tests was an optimised D4as_v4. As you can see, there was a significant difference in Score compared to the others. It was also noted that the AMD CPU versions offer an overall better score than Intel, and as shown, there was a slight improvement on the majority when optimising the image.

When we look specifically at Windows 10 only, which includes both Azure and Windows365 you can see that AMD offers a much better score .

You can view the graph here

We now move on to looking at generation 2 testing.

Generation 2 Virtual Machine testing

We now take a look at Generation 2 Virtual Machines. Please note that at the time of writing, I could not test Windows365 as its understood that only gen1 is available. Please also note that I have omitted Server 2022 from the results. These test results were on Windows 10 20H1. The graph below labelled “Gen2 Before and After Image Optimisation (win10)” shows the results of testing both AMD and Intel Gen 2 Virtual machines including before and after optimisation.

you can view the graph here

As you can see from the graph above, AMD offers better performance results than Intel CPU’s. You will also note that Optimisation does improve performance scores slightly.

Now lets take a look at Windows 11 Vs Windows 10 on an Azure Virtual Machine. Please note these results are before Image optimisations.

You can also view the chart here

As you can see from the above graph, AMD shows a better score, and you will also note that Windows 10 offers better scores than Windows 11. I note Windows 11 is in preview at the time of writing; however, as it currently stands, you do get better performance results with Windows 10.

Gen1 Vs Gen 2 Test Results

In this section we look at the differences between Generation 1 and Generation 2 Virtual Machines.

When looking at the visual comparison of Gen1 & Gen2 before any image optimisation In Azure. Below in graph “Gen1 Vs Gen2 Performance Testing (Win10)”, you can see AMD offers much better performance in relation to the basic tests and marginally better results when we look at productivity. You will also note that In this test, I included a PC VM, which really does help us visualise the difference between cloud and Physical. Remember, the Hypervisor can suffer from contention, and within the cloud, you cannot control this. This does not mean to say cloud is bad!

You can also view the graph here

Now we have covered, optimisation, CPU architecture, different Operating system versions. The final part of the testing was to understand the performance differences using Microsoft products as in Microsoft Office and Edge.

Microsoft Office Productivity test results

The final part of the research conducted was to take a look at how Microsoft Office and Edge perform on the difference CPU architectures and VM Generations.

When we look at Specific Microsoft Office Productivity and Microsoft edge testing, we can see that The AMD CPU has a higher score than Intel. What is interesting in this test, is that the Generation 2 intel optimised VM does ramp up its score for PowerPoint compared to the Gen2 AMD optimised VM.

You can also view the graph here

The results show that you should be using AMD CPU’s for Azure Virtual Desktop and I also note which was quite interesting was that Generation 1 offers slightly better scores.

Conclusions

  • From the testing completed and the results shown in this article, you can see that AMD offers better performance scores than Intel. This has not changed since my previous testing last year.
  • Image Optimisation does offer performance score improvements as shown in the data shared.
  • Windows 11 has a lower performance score than Windows 10, however this could change in the up and coming months.
  • The behaviours of Generation 1 and Generation 2 are strange. In some cases Generation 1 VM’s offer better performance scores where as in other cases, I note Generation 2 offers better. Its suggested generation 2 offers improved security over performance and this should be considered.
  • Server 2022’s performance scores showed that Windows 10 offers a better performance score.
  • The Windows365 Trial Virtual Machine scored the lowest, however give Microsoft credit, this is a trial VM which may be on a different Hyper-V Cluster to not impact paying customers.
  • PC VM results are the best on every test. However the difference in results are not concerning as I believe there is a difference of circa 2000 score points which is 1/4 improvement. From the testing completed, Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 is more than suitable as a Enterprise desktop offering. For best User experience and performance gains take note of my research.

Summary

In this article we looked at the results from a lot of testing which I have completed over the last month. AMD CPU’s are the way forward and optimising the Virtual Machine image offers improved performance gains. Gen 1 in some cases offers better performance gains however I’m sure you will agree you should sacrifice that little bit of performance for the security gains offered when deploying a Gen2 Virtual Machine.

I trust this is useful and feel free to reach out if you have any questions on the comments section.

Moving on from PCMark10, I plan to use a different set of tools so I can see the contrast between different benchmarking tooling.

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