Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review

Quick Sync Vs. APP Vs. CUDA

For now, we have a few media playback apps (decoders) and a couple of media conversion titles (encoders/transcoders) to play with.

CyberLink’s MediaEspresso has already been optimized to take advantage of AMD’s Stream (now called APP) and Nvidia’s CUDA API. Taken in the context of a machine without any hardware-based acceleration at all, you get a really freaking nice speed-up.

But the Quick Sync optimizations put Sandy Bridge in another league entirely. Converting an almost-500 MB source to 1024x768 for playback on an iPad takes a scant 22 seconds.

MediaConverter 7 presented more of a challenge. The pre-release version optimized for Quick Sync also accelerated AMD’s Stream API, but it wouldn’t recognize our GeForce GTX 570. Swapping out to the currently-shipping demo version didn’t give us a drop-down to turn on CUDA either, but it at least yielded results that show acceleration is definitely turned on. Arcsoft’s app has the added benefit of giving you a utilization monitor.

The result is fairly compelling. Without acceleration enabled, the iPad profile transcode took 1:35, tying up a Core i7-2600K at roughly 30% utilization. With Nvidia’s card installed, utilization jumped to 50%, but the job finished almost 20 seconds faster. A Radeon HD 6870 turns back lower utilization numbers and better performance results. But the Quick Sync-optimized path is most impressive, wrapping up in 41 seconds and barely touching the processor cores at all.

Unfortunately, you have to be using Intel's integrated graphics core in order to take advantage of Quick Sync. Neither MediaEspresso or MediaConverter are able to recognize the pipeline with a discrete card installed. So, if you're doing media work on a gaming PC, Quick Sync might not be an option for you.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
193 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • cangelini
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active


    Just this.
    11
  • juncture
    "an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip for $11 extra is actually pretty damn sexy."

    i think the author's saying he's a sexually active cyberphile
    10
  • Other Comments
  • JE_D
    BENCHIES! Thanks Tomshardware!
    6
  • Anonymous
    Editor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
    4
  • cangelini
    MoneyFace pEditor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.


    Fixed, thanks Money!
    2
  • juncture
    "an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip for $11 extra is actually pretty damn sexy."

    i think the author's saying he's a sexually active cyberphile
    10
  • cangelini
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active


    Just this.
    11
  • fakie
    Contest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.

    Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(
    7
  • englandr753
    Great article guys. Glad to see you got your hands on those beauties. I look forward to you doing the same type of review with bulldozer. =D
    5
  • joytech22
    Wow Intel owns when it came to converting video, beating out much faster dedicated solutions, which was strange but still awesome.

    I don't know how AMD's going to fare but i hope their new architecture will at least compete with these CPU's, because for a few years now AMD has been at least a generation worth of speed behind Intel.

    Also Intel's IGP's are finally gaining some ground in the games department.
    5
  • cangelini
    fakieContest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(


    I really wish this weren't the case fakie--and I'm very sorry it is. We're unfortunately subject to the will of the finance folks and the government, who make it hard to give things away without significant tax ramifications. I know that's of little consolation, but that's the reason :(

    Best,
    Chris
    6
  • LuckyDucky7
    "It’s the value-oriented buyers with processor budgets between $100 and $150 (where AMD offers some of its best deals) who get screwed."

    I believe that says it all. Sorry, Intel, your new architecture may be excellent, but unless the i3-2100 series outperforms anything AMD can offer at the same price range WHILE OVERCLOCKED, you will see none of my desktop dollars.

    That is all.
    1
  • DjEaZy
    ... will wait til 'buldozer'... and two things may happen... the buldozer at the price point will kick ass... or the sandy bridge parts will get cheaper...
    6
  • touchdowntexas13
    There is some pretty cool stuff going on here. I like the way the article points out the good and the bad. As for me I really am mystified at Intel's decision to only put the higher end graphics in the k-models as most likely anyone buying them will be going for the P67 platform that doesn't even use the integrated graphics. It would have been soooo much better for the HTPC crowd if there were some lower end chips with the better integrated graphics. I guess somehow this is money motivated???

    As for overclocking, well it seems a bit odd in the way it is being implemented. But for $216, I can't complain too much about a quad-core with a base clock of 3.3 GHz. Some enthusiasts won't like the limited overclocking features, but others will welcome the simplified approach.

    I will be building my brother a new gaming computer for graduation this summer and now I have another viable option to look at. I had planned on going with a P55 + i5 760, but now I will need to consider the P67 + i5 2500K.

    Waiting on bulldozer...
    3
  • jyar727
    I mean this looks like a thorough test but its really not. I wanted to see an I7 1:1 clock performance comparisons. Mainly, 3.4GHz I7-950 vs 3.4GHz I7-2600K. Obviously 3.4 GHz new tech would usually beat a 3.0 current tech in benches. UGH. lame lame lame. Really want to see this comparison instead.
    7
  • silversurfernhs
    Shouldn't the title be second gen Core i series... because Core 2s were second gen Cores, weren't they?
    7
  • Tamz_msc
    Where is the 980x in these benchmarks?
    Other than that its a great article, and I'm drooling over QuickSync!
    8
  • Maziar
    Thanks for the review Chris :)
    QuickSync definitely looks interesting.
    0
  • Ramar
    I just bought an i5-760 system on 12/30 from newegg, I guess I wasn't paying attention to when Sandy Bridge would actually be released. It's not here yet, so I could just send the mobo and cpu back when they get here, but I don't see enough justification as a gamer to move to the 2500k. Based on the number of 1.35V 4.7ghz for the 2600k, I would assume that on stock voltage it doesn't get much higher in frequency than my 760 will, and I don't like raising stock voltage.

    This is all very nice, but I'll keep my bclk control for now and maybe move up when I get out of college in seven months and the tech is set in stone and dropping in price a little.

    Not a bad chip, and I'm excited to see where they go with it. =]
    1
  • Hellbound
    Is sandy bridge the replacement to the x58 chipset? I thought I read somewhere they were planning on x68 sometime in 2011.
    -1
  • djdarko321
    Remember though as this is the lower end Sandy Bridge platform NOT THE MAIN LGA2011 socket. As Intel decided to release for the mainstream first before the enthusiasts this go around.
    1
  • Tamz_msc
    Just looked at the AnandTech review and here is their opinion -

    Quote:
    In all but the heaviest threaded applications, Sandy Bridge is the fastest chip on the block—and you get the performance at a fairly reasonable price. The Core i7-2600K is tempting at $317 but the Core i5-2500K is absolutely a steal at $216. You're getting nearly $999 worth of performance at roughly a quarter of the cost.


    These things are as fast as the i7 980X and in some cases they're even faster!
    -2