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We start things off with iTunes 9, which is not optimized for threading and will most likely reward the most efficient architecture with the highest clock rate.
The fast Core i5-661 CPU gets an extra kick from Turbo Boost in this single-threaded application to take the win in our CD conversion test. It’s followed by the Core i5-750, which also gets Turbo’ed into second place, and the Core 2 Duo E8500, which doesn’t need Turbo.
It’s important to remember that, while our comparison here covers Intel’s architecture powering its newest entry-level processors, the Core i5-661 is priced to compete against the fastest CPU that AMD sells: its Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition.
The flagship Phenom II exerts itself in our MainConcept test, taking a first-place finish. Without Hyper-Threading to help it, and with Turbo Boost lending minimal benefit, the Lynnfield-based Core i5-750 takes second place. The Core 2 Quad Q9400 shows that four true cores trump two Hyper-Threaded cores as it takes third.
HandBrake has been popularly requested by our readers, so we’ve added it to our 2010 benchmark suite, converting a .vob from The Last Samurai to .mp4 format.
AMD’s Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition repeats its victory, besting Intel’s Core i5-750 by one second. The Core 2 Quad Q9400 takes third place, beating out the Core i5-661. Nevertheless, Intel’s Clarkdale-based CPUs demonstrate the benefits of Hyper-Threading by finishing the job more than five minutes faster than the 3.16 GHz Core 2 Duo E8500.
The Lynnfield-based Core i5-750 wins in the DivX and Xvid codecs, breezing past the Phenom II in both cases. The Clarkdale CPU takes second place in Xvid, which isn’t well-optimized for threading and instead gets by on its higher clock rate and Turbo Boost acceleration. The Phenom II does take second in DivX, though, by virtue of the codec’s threaded nature.