LAME MT and SunSpider
In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. LAME is an open-source mid to high bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is used widely around the world in a multitude of third party applications.
Our LAME MT benchmark will use only one or two threads depending on the test mode. As such, the additional cores of the Core i7-3960X and 990X do not come into play, and the quad-core 3820 performs exactly the same as Intel's current flagship, which offers the same peak Turbo frequencies.
Balanced - This test is balanced between different areas of the language and different types of code. It's not all math, all string processing, or all timing simple loops. In addition to having tests in many categories, the individual tests were balanced to take similar amounts of time on currently shipping versions of popular browsers.
Statistically Sound - One of the challenges of benchmarking is knowing how much noise you have in your measurements. This benchmark runs each test multiple times and determines an error range (technically, a 95% confidence interval). In addition, in comparison mode it tells you if you have enough data to determine if the difference is statistically significant.
The additional compute resources of the high-end Core i7-3960X are not exploited by the SunSpider benchmark either, hence the Core i7-3820 offers very similar performance here, which is to say it leads the pack right along with the other Sandy Bridge-based processors.