Intel Core i7-990X Extreme: Crazy Fast Got Faster

LAME Audio Conversion and x264 Video Encoding

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, mainstream applications.

Audio Encoding
In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a long, droning Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.


Editor's Note:  We've updated these graphs with the latest scores from our Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge testbed.

A single instance of the LAME MT benchmark can process only two threads simultaneously, hence, the similarly clocked Core i7-980, 970 and i7-975 perform right on top of each other here in multithread mode.  However, the 990X, as expected, is a little faster due to it's higher base clock and Turbo Boost speed. Another thing this test shows is that there are no performance-improving core enhancements in the Gulftown core versus Bloomfield, with clock-for-clock dual-threaded performance shaking out exactly the same between generations. Finally, the Core i7-2600K takes the lead position in this lightly threaded test, due to it's slightly higher Turbo Boost speed of 3.8GHz versus the Core i7-990X's 3.73GHz top end boost speed.

x264 Video Encoding Benchmark
H.264 HD Video Encoding

The x264 benchmark measures how fast a system can encode a short, DVD quality MPEG-2 video clip into a high-quality H.264 HD video clip. The application reports the compression results in frames per second for each pass of the video encoding process, and it is threaded so it can take advantage of the additional resources afforded by multi-core processors.


Editor's Note:  We've updated these graphs with the latest scores from our Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge testbed.

We should note that, although the Core i7-2600K falls within the middle of the pack here, were this test optimized to take advantage of Intel's new Quick Sync video conversion technology, it most definitely would have grabbed top honors. In any event, for this test setup, the Core i7-990X put up better performance than we expected actually in this test, though some quick math says that the chip delivered about 3% more performance versus the slightly slower Core i7-980X.  Tiger blood will do that for ya.

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