Intel Core i7 3820 Review: $285 Quad-Core Sandy Bridge Eby Anand Lal Shimpi on December 29, 2011 2:28 AM EST
Windows 7 Application Performance
Today's desktop processors are more than fast enough to do professional level 3D rendering at home. To look at performance under 3dsmax we ran the SPECapc 3dsmax 8 benchmark (only the CPU rendering tests) under 3dsmax 9 SP1. The results reported are the rendering composite scores.
Created by the Cinema 4D folks we have Cinebench, a popular 3D rendering benchmark that gives us both single and multi-threaded 3D rendering results.
With only a 100MHz clock speed advantage over a 2600K when running in single core turbo mode, the 3820 isn't much faster than the 2600K in our single threaded Cinebench test. The additional L3 cache doesn't have much of an impact here, although I suspect that has more to do with this particular workload rather than a general statement about the 3820. Let's look at multithreaded perf:
The performance gap increases to 5% once we ramp up thread count. The extra performance is mostly due to clock speed here, although you'll see later on that there are some applications that definitely appreciate the larger L3 cache.
While Cinebench shows us multithreaded floating point performance, the 7-zip benchmark gives us an indication of multithreaded integer performance:
The 7-zip benchmark gives us a good example of what the SNB-E platform can offer given the right workload. Here we see an 8.6% performance advantage, despite a much smaller clock speed advantage. The added L3 cache helps out a bit here, although obviously there's a huge gap between the 3820 and its hexa-core brethren.
Par2 is an application used for reconstructing downloaded archives. It can generate parity data from a given archive and later use it to recover the archive
Chuchusoft took the source code of par2cmdline 0.4 and parallelized it using Intel’s Threading Building Blocks 2.1. The result is a version of par2cmdline that can spawn multiple threads to repair par2 archives. For this test we took a 708MB archive, corrupted nearly 60MB of it, and used the multithreaded par2cmdline to recover it. The scores reported are the repair and recover time in seconds.
In tests that have more of an IO influence the difference between the 3820 and the 2600K is negligible, it will take higher clock speeds and more cores to really separate SNB-E from the vanilla SNB systems.
TrueCrypt is a very popular encryption package that offers full AES-NI support. The application also features a built-in encryption benchmark that we can use to measure CPU performance:
Encryption speed once again scales with core count and clock speeds, the additional L3 cache doesn't do much in this benchmark.
x264 HD 3.03 Benchmark
Graysky's x264 HD test uses x264 to encode a 4Mbps 720p MPEG-2 source. The focus here is on quality rather than speed, thus the benchmark uses a 2-pass encode and reports the average frame rate in each pass.
We see a slight advantage over the 2600K in our x264 HD benchmark, however video transcoding doesn't benefit all that much from the small gains the 3820 offers. Most client users would be better off with the Quick Sync enabled 2600K, and the serious video professionals will want to invest in a six-core 3930K at the minimum.
Compile Chromium Test
You guys asked for it and finally I have something I feel is a good software build test. Using Visual Studio 2008 I'm compiling Chromium. It's a pretty huge project that takes over forty minutes to compile from the command line on the Core i3 2100. But the results are repeatable and the compile process will stress all 12 threads at 100% for almost the entire time on a 980X so it works for me.
Again we see a step function improvement when moving from four to six cores in our compile test, but no change between the 2600K and 3820. If you're building a dev workstation you're going to either want to save money and grab a 2600K or move to six cores for better performance. It is worth mentioning however that if you need eight DIMM slots the 3820 might be a better option than the 2600K, allowing you to outfit your workstation with insane amounts of memory.
Excel Monte Carlo
Our Monte Carlo simulation test is CPU bound but the 3820 shows a marginal improvement over the 2600K.
SYSMark 2007 & 2012
Although not the best indication of overall system performance, the SYSMark suites do give us a good idea of lighter workloads than we're used to testing. SYSMark 2007 is a better indication of low thread count performance, although 2012 isn't tremendously better in that regard.
In 2007 we see mild gains over the 2600K, although 2012 shows a much bigger gap between the 3820 and the 2500K due to the former's support for 8 threads vs. 4.