|Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 02 January 2011|
Page 10 of 15
Handbrake Media Encoding
It's a truism that consumer-level computer performance reached the "fast enough" point years ago, where increases in system performance don't make thing any faster for most people. Web browsing, e-mail, word processing, and even most games won't benefit dramatically from a super-fast CPU. There are some exceptions, though, and media encoding is one of them: transcoding video, especially high-definition video, can bring the strongest system to its knees. Fortunately, media transcoding is one of those things that (depending on the design of the code, of course) that scales really well with both clock speed and the number of cores, so the more you have of both, the better your results will be.
The free and open-source Handbrake 0.94 video transcoder is an example of a program that makes full use of the computational resources available. For this test I used Handbrake 0.94 to transcode a standard-definition episode of Family Guy to the "iPhone & iPod Touch" presets, and recorded the total time (in seconds) it took to transcode the video.
As the only six-core CPU in the test, the AMD 1100T tries its best, but it can only beat the four-core i7-950 by about 7%, and is badly spanked by the Cougar Point/Sandy Bridge systems. Intel identified video transcoding as one of the prime targets for performance improvements with the Sandy Bridge processors, and although this version of Handbrake does not make use of the Intel Quick Sync Video Technology implemented in these CPUs, it's telling that the four-core 2600K matches the six-core i7-980X, which, although not shown in this chart, required 132 seconds to encode the same video. Upcoming encoders that do use this feature will show even greater performance.
x264 HD Benchmark 3.19
Tech ARP's x264 HD Benchmark comprises the Avisynth video scripting engine, an x264 encoder, a sample 720P video file, and a script file that actually runs the benchmark. The script invokes four two-pass encoding runs and reports the average frames per second encoded as a result. The script file is a simple batch file, so you could edit the encoding parameters if you were interested, although your results wouldn't then be comparable to others.
Again, the 2600K dominates, turning in 980X-matching performances (the 980X returned 89.6 and 89 frames per second on these two runs) for about a third the price. Overclocking the Sandy Bridge CPU returns performance increases that scale almost linearly with the increase in clock speed.
Although the frames-per-second numbers are different, the results of runs 3 and 4 are virtually identical to the results of runs 1 and 2, when considered on a processor-to-processor comparison basis.
There's no doubt about it: the Intel Core i7-2600K processor is a video transcoding monster.