Stockfish: Make the best choice!

Sherwood, Russell  Saturday, October 17, 2020

Since the inception of the NNUE networks with the Stockfish framework, a very regular question has been: Which version should i use? BMI or Popcnt? AVX2 or SSSE?

A simple method to determine the best option is as follows: 

  1. Place all the candidate exe files into a folder.
  2. Navigate to the folder via File Explorer
  3. Double-click on the first engine. If it is not compatible with your hardware either nothing will happen or a black screen will open up briefly and then close again. These versions of the engine can be ignored.
  4. If when you double-click the screen opens up type "bench". This will run for a while and at the end you will see a "Nodes per second" result. Not this number and close the engine window.
  5. Repeat this process for all the exe files.
  6. The file with the highest 'Nodes per second" will be the version of the engine best suited for your hardware.

This process will work for all Stockfish variant engines and many more. In a test I saw a 44% difference in speed between the least and most suitable versions. This in practice means that an engine will get to your normal depth faster and may achieve the odd or two greater depth in the same time, which in the long run converts to elo gain.


Updated Saturday, October 17, 2020 by Russell Sherwood

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