Handbrake Media Encoding
I like media encoding benchmarks for several reasons. One, most of them are “real world” benchmarks rather than synthetic benchmarks that are only good for comparison with other scores from the same benchmark. Second, media encoding is one of the very few things that can really use all the threads and horsepower a modern CPU can provide. Unless you’re upgrading from a really old machine, that spiffy new CPU won’t play your games any faster, nor make your web browsing any smoother. But when you’re ripping that DVD to watch on your phone or tablet, then yeah, nobody ever said their transcoding was too fast.
Intel changed this game dramatically with the introduction of the Sandy Bridge CPUs a couple of years ago. Their new “Quick Sync” feature leveraged the parallel cores of the new Intel HD integrated GPUs to dramatically speed transcoding tasks, and several third party programs jumped on the bandwagon.
We’ll start, though, with a program that doesn’t use Quick Sync. For this test I used Handbrake 0.96 to transcode a standard-definition episode of Family Guy to the “iPhone & iPod Touch” presets, and recorded the total time (in seconds) it took to transcode the video.
The 4770K is only about 6% faster than the already quick 3770K. Overclocking does help, though, by trimming almost 19 seconds off of the total encoding time.
x264 HD Benchmark 5.0
With version 5.0, TechArp’s x264HD Benchmark finally integrates AVX instructions into the main code branch. Previously, there were separate versions of this benchmark that used XOP and AVX instructions; now, they’re integrated and will be used if your CPU supports them. Of course this means that the results from the new benchmark can’t be directly compared to results from the old benchmark, but that’s the price of progress. An added benefit is that the new version runs in full 64-bit mode.
x264 HD 5.0 encodes a 1080p video segment into a high quality x264 format.
Both passes show the by now expected minimal performance improvements of the 4770K. In pass 1, the stock and overclocked increases over the 3770K are 3.6% and 19.2%, respectively; while in pass 2 they’re 7.9% and 27%.
Now, let’s try something that uses Quick Sync: Arcsoft’s Media Converter 7. For this fully Quick Sync aware program, I used the same Family Guy episode I used for Handbrake testing, transcoding it to Media Converter’s built-in iPad presets.
Intel brags a lot about the improvement in the AVX instructions in Haswell, but they compare them to Sandy Bridge, and here’s why: the improvement over Ivy Bridge Quick Sync is minimal, only a touch over 4% faster at stock speeds.