We've had an in-depth look at the architecture behind Intel's Nehalem processors already and so the question I'm sure you want to know is how all of that translates into real world performance. Well, look no further, as we've taken the three Intel Core i7 processors and put them up against the best of the previous generation - quad and dual core from Intel, as well as AMD's top three quad cores with the intention of finding out exactly where they fit into the landscape.
In addition we've tested the effects of all the new features Intel has introduced with the Core i7, including Hyper Threading, QPI bandwidth, Turbo Mode. We've even checked to see how much extra performance triple channel DDR3 provides over dual and single channel too, just in case you're wondering...
Here is a list of the applications we've used for our testing - most of them are available free for public consumption, although some are popular professional software applications. In all cases, the benchmarks were run three times and until a consistent set of results were achieved and the data presented here are averages of those results.
Sisoft Sandra 2009 SP1
Lavalys Everest 4.6.1540
Far Cry 2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
PCMark Vantage x64
Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8
Cinebench 10 x64
Following demand from the bit-tech community, we have included 7-Zip as well as WinRAR in our benchmarks as it is another popular, free, file compression tool. We have also introduced two new video encoding tools - the popular TMPEG and DivX 6.8, and Sony's Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8 - in addition to upgrading AutoMKV to the latest version. Combined, these video encoding applications will cover a range of video transcoding techniques from .VOB to x.264, raw .MTS to WMV9 and MPEG-2 to mobile DivX. Where possible we've enabled multi-threading and the latest SSE4 for processors that support the new extensions.
On the gaming front, we have introduced Far Cry 2 in addition to Crysis and Half-Life 2: Episode Two to give us a wide range of game engines that cover the latest, greatest and most popular corners of the PC gaming industry. The common ground of Windows Vista x64 with Service Pack 1 gives both the latest version of DirectX as well as 64-bit computing, which benefits a few applications as well as allowing us to address more than 4GB of system memory.
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Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA II Power Supple: PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750W Memory: Corsair Dominator XMS2-8500 5-5-5-15, G.Skill Pi-series F3-12800Cl7D-4GBPI, Qimonda PC3-8500U-7-XX-A0 Drivers: Nvidia GeForce 178.13, Intel inf 184.108.40.2061 and 220.127.116.117 Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1