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

Benchmark Results: Media Encoding

We’ve already looked at two applications that were written to take advantage of Intel’s Quick Sync pipeline prior to the Sandy Bridge launch. Let's see those results one more time, as a reminder of what's possible when the processing load shifts from general-purpose hardware to specialized fixed-function logic:

Of course, there are more programs still lacking the requisite hooks—these have to employ general-purpose execution resources to get their workloads finished. As such, they reflect the performance of the CPU cores.

An upgrade to our iTunes benchmark makes us current yet again, but it’s really of little consequence since Apple still runs everything on a single thread. He who sits down to this table with the most aggressive turbo implementation wins.

Intel’s Core i3-2100 and Core i5-655K swap places compared to the Lame and WinZip charts on the previous page. Otherwise, they’re identical. Without more in the way of developer attention, that’s the way every single-threaded title is going to end.

Fortunately, not every application is as poorly optimized as iTunes. MainConcept uses as many processor threads as it can get its hands on. Moreover Sonic Solutions recently launched version 1.1 of its CUDA SDK, facilitating transcoding from MPEG-2, VC-1, or H.264 to H.264 in hardware. Hopefully, the company will update the software to exploit Quick Sync as well.

Intel’s Core i7-2600K is the lone processor to complete our test in under a minute. From there, the Lynnfield-based Core i7-875K takes second, followed by AMD’s Phenom II X6 1100T. Intel’s Core i5-2500K is just one second behind, tying the pricier Core i7-950, which operates on eight threads concurrently, but runs at a slower clock rate.

HandBrake also makes good use of parallelism, handing the Core i7-2600K a massive win. The Phenom II X6 1100T shows well, outmoding the Core i7-875K by one second for second place. From there, things look very similar to the MainConcept benchmark, with the Core i5-2500K, Core i7-950, and Core i5-2400 landing close together.

AMD’s quad-core Phenom II X4 970 trails further back, besting the aged Core 2 Quad. Naturally, the two dual-core models bring up the rear in any benchmark that emphasizes threading.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • JE_D
    BENCHIES! Thanks Tomshardware!
  • Editor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
  • cangelini
    MoneyFace pEditor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
    Fixed, thanks Money!
  • 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
  • cangelini
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active
    Just this.
  • 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. =(
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 :(

  • 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.