The wait for an affordable 45nm Quad-Core is now over, and the Q9450 promises to become the ultimate choice of the new offerings. It’s not much slower than the QX9650, offers 12MB of cache and as expected, has some fantastic overclocking ability. How does 3.44GHz stable sound?
One area where Intel’s 45nm processors excel is with multi-media encoders that utilize the SSE4 instruction set. Beginning with DivX 6.6.0, the set is fully supported and will make a huge difference when using the “Experimental Full Search” algorithm to encode.
When using DivX 6.6.0+, you will notice that the “Experimental Full Search” is left at Disabled by default. This, as we found out, is a good thing since it does indeed take longer overall. If you are a media enthusiast who cares a lot about quality and doesn’t mind the extra wait, then the Experimental Full Search is the route to take. The end result may vary depending on certain factors, such as original video codec, original video quality and video length.
For our testing, we are using a 0.99GB high-quality DivX .AVI of Half-Life 2: Episode Two gameplay. The video is just under 4 minutes in length and is in 720p resolution, which equates to a video bit rate of ~45Mbps, not dissimilar to standard 720p movies. We converted the video two different ways.
First, we encoded the video at the same resolution but a lower quality, so as to achieve a far more acceptable file size (~150MB). The second method is encoding of the same video, but to a 480×272 resolution, similar to what some mobile devices use.
Results are as expected here. Thanks to the inclusion of SSE4, our Q9450 stormed past the “faster” QX6850 with our 720p encoding.
Where video conversion is concerned, one of the applications I’ve grown to enjoy over the years is Nero Recode. Though its export options are extremely limited, they offer high image quality and decent file weight. For our testing, we are using Nero Recode 2 which is included with the Nero 8 Ultra Edition.
Unlike DivX, Nero Recode does not support the SSE4 instruction set, which I consider to be unfortunate, since real differences can be seen, as evidenced above. In a meeting with Nero last fall, I was told that while the application lacks SSE4 support, it does have what it takes to fully take advantage of Multi-Core processors, and to them, that matters more.
For this test, we’ve first ripped our copy of our concert DVD, Killadelphia, by Lamb of God. The original DVD rip weighs in at 7.7GB, but we are using Nero to reconvert it to 4.5GB so that it will fit on a normal-sized DVD to use as a backup. Our “mobile” test consists of converting the main concert footage to the same resolution an Apple iPod uses (480×272) which results in a 700MB file.
For whatever reason, our Q9450 didn’t perform that well here in relation to the other Quad-Cores, and I’m not ready to immediately blame the chip since the mobile recode does scale. We are currently evaluating the importance of Recode as a benchmark, since the results seem to fluctuate too often.