Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Intel Core i7-3960X - Sandy Bridge E Processor Review

Intel debuts its $1000+ Extreme Edition 3960X processor parroting how great it is for the gamer and enthusiast. With 6 cores and 12 threads, a new motherboard and chipset platform, and quad channel DDR3, Intel has done the impossible, given us everything we don't want, and nothing we do want.

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Video Encoding

Video encoding is a process that is very well know by many computer enthusiasts. The scenarios shown below are very much real world "benchmarks." Again, we are using a workload across all systems, and timing how long it takes to get it done in these first three examples.


This first example is a short movie that was ripped from a DVD....that I produced myself. wink We are using handbrake to take the DVD VOB file and encode it to a M4V file sized to fit an iPhone4 screen. You can set up handbrake to encode for whatever device you might need to, such as an EVO4G which I use every day, but we use the iPhone preset to make it simple.

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HandBrake does a very good job of taking advantage of the resources available to it. If you open up Resource Monitor you can watch how it will utilize almost all threads available to it at times through the encoding process.

And obviously this is the kind of workloads that we get to see just how bright and shiny Sandy Bridge E really is. It is simply a video encoding powerhouse. We see it here encode a 30 minute DVD movie into an iPhone format in 101 seconds.


In this HandBrake scenario we are taking the Ironman movie trailer off the Transformer Blu-ray disk and encoding it with to an MKV format and reducing it in file size.

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This is a bit different than above, but just as impressive if not more. This is "only" a high bit rate 1080p Blu-ray file, but it makes quick work of it. As for real time comparisons, the 3960X is clicking off about 3 frames encoded for every 1 you would see in real life speed. So a 3 hour Blu-ray would be encoded in about an hour.


Videora is a free video encoding tool for iPod devices. It is VERY simple to use. It works well and is very thread aware of its resources. I am using Videora to encode the same DVD movie above to the iPhone4 preset inside the software.

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This little free encoding program continues to impress me with how well it works. Much the same as we see with the program above, this drag and drop iPod converter makes good use of the threads available and the memory bandwidth as well.


This encoding benchmark shown below is NOT a real world experience but I wanted to add it in order to give you an easy to access point of reference on this since sharing huge VOB and Blu-ray test files is a bit prohibitive. You can download the benchmark here. This test explains that it takes a short DVD clip and encodes with the x264 video codec in two passes. Passes are shown below in frames encoded per second.

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Higher scores are better here as the data is noted in frames encoded per second. We see much the same scaling as we did above, except with our second pass here. The Sandy Bridge E 3960X processor just blows everything else out of the water.