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Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 Quad-Core
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by Rob Williams on July 16, 2007 in Intel Processors

Intel today is announcing their 1333FSB Core 2 line-up, which consists of three dual-cores, including the E6750 we previewed a few weeks ago, and also the 3.0GHz quad-core that we are testing out today. Read on as we explore all of what Intel’s latest flagship processor has to offer.

Multi-Media Benches


Any type of multi-media encoding/re-encoding/conversion will greatly benefit from multi-core processors and those with faster frequencies. Nero Recode is a tool we enjoy using because it’s easy to use, and very effective. For testing, we first ripped our copy of Lamb of God’s concert DVD, “Killadelphia” and re-encoded it using Recode to fit on a normal sized 4.5GB DVD. The original DVD rip weighs in at 7.7GB.

For whatever reason, Nero Recode doesn’t utilize all cores 100%, but rather it hovers around 75%. I believe this to be so that the user will not have a laggy computer while the operation is in progress. Moving up from a dual-core to quad-core exhibits obvious benefits. However, moving from our 2.4GHz quad-core to the QX6850, very little difference is shown.

If you chose “High-quality mode” for the recode process, it normally will use more than 75% of the overall CPU, but many will normally run the same settings that we had. However, because of the faster processors being released, many may move on over to the high-quality mode, simply because it’s faster than ‘normal’ mode was just a year ago, on any available CPU.

VirtualDub

DVD ripping/re-encoding is a popular pass time, but so is video editing and conversion in general. For this test, we used VirtualDub 1.6.19 and DiVX 6.0. Using FRAPS, we originally recorded a three minute gameplay run of Half-Life 2, through the d1_canals_07 level recorded using a 1280×1024 resolution. The outputted file weighed in at 3.7GB, obviously far too large of a file to upload to share with friends. So, the file was re-encoded using the DiVX codec and also resized to a 640px wide resolution.

As you can see, the DiVX 6 encoder doesn’t take advantage of the quad-core to the fullest extent, but it usually hovered around 1.2 cores, on all four of our CPUs. For future reviews, we will be testing different video conversion tools to find a more appropriate multithreaded option.

LAME

Audio conversion is another popular scenario some people will run into, especially if they have FLAC files on their PC but want lossy versions for their iPod or other music player. Sadly, like VirtualDub, LAME is also a single-threaded application, so the results will scale with frequencies, not because of additional cores. There -is- a multithreaded version of the application available, but it’s constantly argued by audiophiles that the resulting quality is not as high as the singlethreaded version. So if you really care about the quality of your music, the single-threaded option is the smarter move.

As expected, our QX6850 stormed past the others thanks to it’s 3.0GHz clock speed. Proof that extra cores do nothing can be found when comparing the E6600 to the Q6600, both being 2.4GHz processors. What we need, is an application to convert more than one file at once, instead of using more than one core for the same file. That would result in great quality, but much faster results.