To those looking to build the biggest, baddest high-end PC around, the wait for Sandy Bridge-E was no doubt painful. But, it’s finally here, and much to our expectations, Intel has once again solidified its position as the performance leader. So let’s take a look at what it offers, and compare it to the i7-990X, i7-2600K and AMD FX-8150.
Photo manipulation benchmarks are more relevant than ever given the proliferation of high-end digital photography hardware. For this benchmark, we test the system’s handling of RAW photo data using Adobe Lightroom 3.5, an excellent RAW photo editor and organizer that’s easy to use and looks fantastic. You can check out our full review of the tool here.
For our testing, we take a total of 500 RAW files spread across 250 .NEFs captured with a Nikon D80 and 250 .CR2 captured across a Canon 40D and 5D Mark II. We export all of these files to a glossy-sharpened quality 95 JPEG resized to a resolution of 1000×669 – similar to a lot of photos we use here on the website. The test is timed indirectly using a stopwatch as the program doesn’t record the duration itself.
Lightroom isn’t the most multi-threaded tool out there, making this another test where raw frequency trumps core count. Still, benefits of the Sandy Bridge architecture can clearly be seen, as the i7-990X is once again left far behind.
You own hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of songs, all encoded to a pristine lossless format such as FLAC. Your mobile device on the other hand, supports either MP3 or AAC. What’s the solution? There are several, but the one I’ve relied on for almost eight years has been dBpoweramp. It’s both flexible and powerful, which happen to be two important factors for those who take their music seriously.
Recent versions of dBpoweramp have opened up the ability to encode more than one track at once, up to a limit of one-per-thread. With twelve-thread CPUs on the market, that ability can greatly improve overall times. For our testing here, we take 500 unique FLAC files that average about ~30MBs and encode them using the “high-quality” setting to 320Kbit/s MP3.
Music encoding isn’t a scenario that’ll benefit greatly from most CPU architecture enhancements, but if you compare a six-core model to a quad-core, the differences are going to be clear as day. Delivering almost perfect scaling, the i7-3960X was just over 50% faster than the i7-2600K.