Windows 7 Application Performance

3dsmax 9

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.

3dsmax r9 - SPECapc 3dsmax 8 CPU Test

Offline 3D rendering applications make some of the best use of CPU cores, unfortunately our test here doesn't scale all that well. We only see a 7% increase over the 2600K. If we look at a more modern 3D workload however...

Cinebench 11.5

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.

Cinebench 11.5 - Single Threaded

Single threaded performance is marginally better than the 2600K thanks to the 3960X's slightly higher max turbo speed. What's more important than the performance here is the fact that the 3960X is able to properly power gate all idle cores and give a single core full reign of the chip's TDP. Turbo is alive and well in SNB-E, just as it was in Sandy Bridge.

Cinebench 11.5 - Multi-Threaded

Here the performance gains are staggering. The 3960X is 53% faster than the 2600K and 19% faster than Intel's previous 6-core flagship, the 990X. The Bulldozer comparison is almost unfair, the 3960X is 75% faster (granted it is also multiple times the price of the FX-8150).

7-Zip Benchmark

While Cinebench shows us multithreaded floating point performance, the 7-zip benchmark gives us an indication of multithreaded integer performance:

7-zip Benchmark

Here we see huge gains over the 2600K (58%), indicating that the increase in cache size and memory bandwidth help the boost in core count a bit here. The advantage over the 990X is only 7%. This gives us a bit of a preview of what we can expect from SNB-EP Xeon server performance.

PAR2 Benchmark

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.

Par2 - Multi-Threaded par2cmdline 0.4

Here we see a 40% increase in performance over the 2600K and FX-8150.

TrueCrypt Benchmark

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 with:

AES-128 Performance - TrueCrypt 7.1 Benchmark

As both the 990X and 3960X have AES-NI support, both are equally capable at cranking through an AES workload. Per core performance doesn't appear to have changed all that much with the move to Sandy Bridge, so here we have a situation where the 3960X is much faster than the 2600K but no faster than the 990X. I suspect these types of scenarios will be fairly rare.

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.

x264 HD Benchmark - 1st pass - v3.03

Single threaded performance isn't significantly faster than your run-of-the-mill Sandy Bridge, which means the first x264 HD pass doesn't look all that impressive on SNB-E.

x264 HD Benchmark - 2nd pass - v3.03

The second pass however stresses all six cores far more readily, resulting in a 47.5% increase in performance over the 2600K. Even compared to the 990X there's a 15% increase in performance.

Adobe Photoshop CS4

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Speed Test

Our Photoshop test is multithreaded but there are only spikes that use more than four cores. That combined with the short duration of the benchmark shows no real advantage to the 3960X over the 2600K. Sandy Bridge E is faster than Intel's old 6-core solution though.

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.

Build Chromium Project - Visual Studio 2008

Our compile test is extremely well threaded, which once again does well on the 3960X. The gains aren't as big as what we saw in some of our earlier 3D/transcoding tests, but if you're looking to build the fastest development workstation you'll want a Sandy Bridge E.

Excel Monte Carlo

Microsoft Excel 2007 SP1 - Monte Carlo Simulation

Multithreaded compute does well on SNB-E regardless of the type of application. Excel is multithreaded and if you have a beefy enough workload, you'll see huge gains over the 2600K.

Cache and Memory Bandwidth Performance Gaming Performance


View All Comments

  • ggathagan - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    You assume correctly.
    As stated in the article, the 3820 is due out early next year and expected to run at about $300.
    If you look at the 1st page of the article, you'll note that the 3820 is a little faster than the 2700K, with the same max in turbo mode and a larger L3 cache.
  • DanNeely - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Except that the 2700k is unlocked and the 3820 has a severe overclocking limit. Reply
  • theangryintern - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the great review, Anand. I had been waiting for SNB-E to do an upgrade from my X58 Core i7, but now I'm thinking of saving some money and going with a regular Sandy Bridge, the gaming gains just aren't enough to justify the added expense. Reply
  • Makaveli - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    That makes no sense there are no gaming games going from X58 to SB!

    You will still be GPU bottlenecked on most games!

    And a whole new build will be an added expense for no gain in Games!
  • Beenthere - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Not much to see here except over-priced CPUs and mobos. Nice to see Intel fans smartening up and passing on these cash cows. Reply
  • Lazlo Panaflex - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Hi Anand, thanks for the review :)

    Apologize in advance if this was asked earlier, but what specifically is your criteria for determining a stable overclock? For example, do you run Prime95, large FFT's for a predetermined period of time, or perhaps IBT (Intel Burn Test) for a certain amount of runs? Or do you utilize some other tool? Just curious, since this question often pops up in the CPU forums, and everyone has their own opinion of what constitutes a stable overclock.

  • yankeeDDL - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    LOL. Supply and the mand is the cause. Jacking up the price is the effect. You are a bit mixed up it seems.
    Also, in the consumer market having the fastest CPU (or GPU) that you sell for a ridiculous price doesn't mean that someone buys it.
    How many people buy a HD6990? Few, and that's why supplies are so scarce.
    The 3960X is a "show off" chip that claims performance crown. Anyone in the right state of mind will not buy it: it is just not worth the money it costs, unless you're in absolute need of few extra % of performance.
  • JlHADJOE - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    We have chips priced at $1000 because the market has shown that it is willing to pay that amount to get the top-performing chip. It doesn't matter that AMD doesn't have an entry in that segment, because if it did, then we'd probably have AMD's FX-9300 or something priced at $900, while Intel sells their 3960X at $1100.

    This was the exact case when AMD was competitive, and their FX-57 was sold at $1100, vs Intel's Pentium EE which was going for $999. Was there a competitive AMD at the time? Yes. They were even in the lead. Were prices still jacked up? Yes.

    The $1000 CPU will only go away if we, as consumers wise up and say we are not willing to pay that much money for a chip.
  • karkas - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Rapid STORY Technology? Reply
  • GTVic - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Lack of Quick Sync is not nearly the negative that the reviewer seems to think it is. It is not a well supported technology and not many people would use it on a day to day basis. This shouldn't even be mentioned in the article unless you also want to bring up support for Intel Viiv Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now