Benchmark Results: A/V Encoding
Many of the media-encoding benchmarks favor clock speed over cores, so we can probably assume the E8500 is going to do well in many of these benchmarks. Let's start off with iTunes:
The scores are very close here across the board, but notice how the E8500 doesn't have a colossal lead despite its huge clock speed advantage over the Q9550 and i7 920.
Lame shows us essentially a carbon copy of what iTunes already let us know: clock speed is king when it comes to audio encoding. Now let's shift the focus to video encoding using TMPGEnc:
Things begin to look interesting here as the gap widens. Look at DivX, where the quad-core CPUs like the Q9550 do very well and the dual-core E8500 is left in the dust. It is very interesting how the i7 920 takes a massive lead in this benchmark even when compared to the Q9550. Clearly, DivX takes advantage of some of the new Core i7 optimizations.
But then we look at the Xvid encoding results and see that this codec doesn't favor quad-core processors like the Q9550 does, as the dual-core E8500 bests it easily. However, once again, the new i7 920 clearly has optimizations that the encoder appreciates as it wins by a small margin despite the clock speed deficiency compared to the E8500.
Mainconcept displays an exaggerated result of what we saw when using DivX: a heavy dependence on multiple cores and a strong favoring of the new i7 CPU.
The message seems fairly clear: these audio encoders favor clock speed over multiple cores and most of these video encoders favor multiple cores over clock speed. However, all of these applications clearly appreciate the optimizations built into the new Core i7 architecture. If media encoding is your focus, you can skip the older Core 2-based offerings and head straight for i7.