|MSI Z68A-GD80 Intel Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011|
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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 0.95 video transcoder is an example of a program that makes full use of the computational resources available. For this test I used Handbrake 0.95 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.
Surprisingly, the Z68-based motherboards turn in about 10% better scores than the P8P67 motherboard, even at stock clock speeds. Since Handbrake is purely CPU-limited, overclocking helps a lot, with the OC Genie overclock dropping transcode times by 16% and my manual overclock dropping them by 28%.
x264Bench HD 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.
While the Z68 motherboard turned in better scores than the P67 motherboard on Handbrake, the reverse is true here, with the Z68-based motherboards reporting fractionally lower scores than the P67-based motherboard on this test. Like Handbrake, x264Bench HD takes full advantage of overclocking.