Benchmark Results: Media Encoding
Lame is another single-threaded title that we know will reward the most efficient architecture running at the highest clock rate.
Ivy Bridge, enjoying subtle IPC-oriented improvements, scores a narrow victory when Turbo Boost kicks in.
Because Core i7-3960X and Core i7-2700K hit similar single-threaded clocks, they show similarly in our Lame test.
Without overclocking, the Core i7-3930K can’t quite keep up to Intel’s Core i5-2550K (after all, six cores isn’t an advantage in a test only capable of taxing one).
We see a very similar situation play out in iTunes. Some of the Sandy Bridge-based chips swap places, but they’re all very, very close together. Most notable is that the Core i7-3770K takes first yet again.
The performance you can expect from Ivy Bridge is fairly easily characterized in one of two ways: lightly-threaded apps that favor an efficient architecture tend to show the design in a positive light against competing architectures at the same clock rate, while more parallelized workloads favor Sandy Bridge-E, so long as it wields more cores.
You’ll notice I left the -3820 out of this review altogether. I cannot come up with any situation where the -3820 is a product I’d recommend, even in a world without Ivy Bridge. If you’re going to spend big on Sandy Bridge-E, go for a six-core model, at least. If not, Sandy Bridge, Z68, and dual-channel memory kits are a better buy.
MainConcept illustrates the reason why nicely. At stock clocks, there’s a nice, gradual progression from -3960X, -3930K, -3770K, and -2700K. The larger drop-off happens when you shift down to the -2550K and AMD’s offerings.
The exact same conclusion applies to HandBrake, a front-end for the x264 encoder. Intel’s six-core chips rock, though it’s easy to get good performance from the quad-core, Hyper-Threaded models when cash is more of a concern.