by Rob Williams on July 19, 2013 in Processors
Intel’s latest processor architecture brings a lot to the table, with the usual suspects dominating the feature’s-list: improved CPU and GPU performance, better power-efficiency, and new instruction sets. We’re taking a look at the desktop line’s highest-end offering here, so let’s see how it stacks up against the last-gen’s champ.
SiSoftware’s Sandra is a piece of software that needs no introduction. It’s been around as long as the Internet, and has long provided both diagnostic and benchmarking features to its users. The folks who develop Sandra take things very seriously, and are often the first ones to add support to the program long before consumers can even get their hands on the product.
As a synthetic tool, Sandra can give us the best possible look at the top-end performance from the hardware it can benchmark, which is the reason we use it to test much of our PC’s hardware. The fact that a free version exists so that you can also benchmark against our results is something we greatly appreciate.
The more threads a CPU has coupled with its frequency and architecture refinements, the faster it should be able to calculate complex math. We’re not talking about simple math that can be done on a calculator, but rather advanced calculation that is often used behind the scenes. Sandra’s Arithmetic test stresses the popular Dhrystone integer and Whetstone floating-point algorithms that have acted as a base for a countless number of benchmarks dating back as far back as the 70s.
The winner of most multi-threaded benchmarks is the CPU with the highest core count, and then the highest frequency. It’s no surprise, then, to see the i7-3960X top the list. In our quad-core matchup, the i7-4770K improves upon the i7-3770K’s performance only slightly.
One of the best reasons for upgrading or building a new PC is to increase the performance for multi-media work, whether it be editing or encoding. As we saw earlier in our results, faster CPUs can save minutes or even hours of time. To test such capabilities here, Sandra renders the famous Mandelbrot set in a total of 255 iterations and in 32 colors.
This is a test that’s been around for close to forever, but it still scales extremely well with thread counts and can benefit from new media-centric instruction sets, including AVX.
The six-core i7-3960X has proven itself to reign surpreme where heavily multi-threaded benchmarks are concerned, and while that’s still the case overall here, it doesn’t excel quite as much. In fact, the i7-4770K proves faster in the integer test, undoubtedly the result of fine-tuning done since the second-generation.
You might not be aware of it, but cryptography plays a major role in computing. With some algorithms proving more complex than the others, having a faster processor can dramatically improve performance – especially important on the server front. In Sandra’s benchmark, the mega-popular AES and SHA algorithms are computed, both with 256-bit key sizes.
On the hashing side of things, multi-threadedness doesn’t seem to affect too much, although performance does still scale as we’d expect across these three processors. Encryption by way of AES, however, can take good advantage of additional cores along with general architecture tweaks. The six-core i7-3960X wins hands-down here, but what we really care about is that the i7-4770K shows a noticeable gain over the i7-3770K.
There’s little that can stress a CPU’s worth quite as much as number-crunching, and for that reason, we take full advantage of Sandra’s financial analysis benchmark. In the past, we ran similar tests using an Excel spreadsheet that allowed us to run a macro based on the Monte Carlo pricing, but here, Sandra allows us to also test Black-Scholes and Binomial.
Once again, the i7-3960X proves what six cores can do, while the i7-4770K continues take a few steps ahead of the i7-3770K.