Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition Review

by Rob Williams on September 25, 2013 in Processors

Intel’s latest processor series has arrived, and we’re looking to find out if it becomes the company’s greatest. Compared to Intel’s latest mainstream part, Haswell, IV-E avails a quad-channel memory controller, a far more robust PCIe configuration, and the only place to get six-core parts. Are there other perks to be found? Let’s find out.

Page 5 – Multi-Media: Adobe Premiere Pro, HandBrake & CyberLink MediaExpresso

With our 3D modeling and rendering tests out-of-the-way, let’s dive right into another popular use for high-end machines: video editing and encoding. Scenarios here could include encoding a large movie into a mobile format, ripping a Blu-ray to your PC and encoding it for HTPC use, or encoding a family video you painstakingly edited.

Adobe’s Premiere Pro likely needs no introduction. It’s a tool used by the amateur and professional video content creator alike due to the extreme control it provides along with all of the important codecs, presets, filters and tweaking options. Premiere Pro can be used for any sort of video, be it real-life, animated, 3D or even game footage.

For our benchmarking, we encode a project that consists of 35GB worth of game footage from Payday: The Heist, which we encode to MPEG2 Blu-ray 1080p/30. The resulting video can be seen here.

To ensure an encode delivers the best possible video quality, we enable the “Maximum Quality Render”, which results in nearly 100% CPU utilization on up to 12 threads (we have not tested on CPUs that have more than 12 threads).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Intel Core i7-4770K - Adobe Premiere Pro

Video encoding is a great scenario for multi-core CPUs, so it’s no surprise to see the 4960X perform so well here. It’s worth pointing out, though, that compared to the 3970X (released two full years ago), the gains are almost nonexistent.

HandBrake 0.9.9

Premiere Pro is meant to be used as a professional tool for editing and encoding, while HandBrake acts strictly as an encoder, able to take one video format and encode it to another according to your specifications. While there are many presets available from the get-go, you’re able to customize whatever’s available, or create your own. It’s a simple tool with complex capabilities.

Here, we have a project that makes use of a Blu-ray rip of Pixies: Live at the Paradise in Boston. With it, we encode the first 10 minutes of the concert to an archival-quality 720p MKV. The archival-quality encode is time-consuming, but it can take full advantage of a 12 threaded processor. For those interested, our H.264 options are:


HandBrake 0.9.9

Intel Core i7-4770K - HandBrake

We saw almost no difference between the performance of the 3970X and 4960X in the last test, but here, the gap does widen up a little bit. Here, the i7-4770K took about 30% longer to perform the encode than the 4960X.

CyberLink MediaExpresso

CyberLink is a company that’s quick to jump on new technologies, and it’s for that reason that CPU vendors – namely Intel – like to promote its products for use in benchmarking. In MediaExpresso’s case, this converter app can take advantage not only of basic CPU accelerators, but QuickSync and also AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce.

We test a total of five configurations here:

  • CPU Only – Faster Conversion
  • CPU Only – Better Quality
  • Intel QuickSync – Faster Conversion
  • Intel QuickSync – Better Quality
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti

CyberLink MediaExpresso

Because it’s a little hard to follow in a graph alone, we also include the same results in a table. This allows us to show you the fastest run overall, and then look at how each CPU fared in individual tests without having to squint through the results.

Intel Core i7-4770K - CyberLink MediaExpresso

  CPU (BQ) CPU (FC) QS (BQ) QS (FC) GTX 660
Core i7-4770K 2874 1980 1988 621 1432
Core i7-3770K 2981 2043 895 771 1434
Core i7-4960X 2149 1733 N/A N/A 1077
Core i7-3970X 2198 1577 N/A N/A 1418
CPU = CPU only; QS = QuickSync; BQ = Better Quality; FC = Faster Conversion

Where straight CPU encoding is concerned, the i7-4960X wins hands-down… no contest. It even manages to blow every other CPU out of the water when it comes to encoding with the help of the GPU. The reason? That’s a good question. It could be that GPGPU throughput is part of that +30% GPU performance Intel was talking about.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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