Tuning Cool'n'Quiet: Maximize Power And Performance, Part 2

Benchmark Results: Audio Encoding

For our audio encoding benchmarks, we've ripped the audio from the first CD from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera--London's Original Cast Recording as one track. The resulting file is then imported into RealPlayer 11 and iTunes, and then encoded into AAC. For RealPlayer, we selected the highest quality possible (320 kbps), while for iTunes we went with the default settings (256 kbps).

RealPlayer 11


Both apps are unable to fully utilize more than two cores. In fact, both barely utilize the available two cores. RealPlayer was able to complete encoding much faster than iTunes though, even with a slightly higher bitrate. Let’s see the results with all three processors.

As with previous benchmarks, enabling power management with these processors really didn’t have much of an impact. The only noticeable difference in performance is caused by asynchronous clock changes.

Both audio applications show that you’ll get better value with the Athlon II X2 250 than the Phenom II X3 710. Higher clock rates rule here; having more cores and cache is not the way to go. It’s interesting to see that, although these two applications are similar, they push these processors in different ways. In addition to being faster, power consumption with RealPlayer is actually lower than iTunes.

These two applications also gave us a unique perspective on power consumption. Normally, single-threaded applications tend to favor processors with fewer cores when it comes to power. Conversely, power consumption in multi-threaded applications favors CPUs with more cores. These two applications are multi-threaded, but they don’t fully load all cores. With default settings, the norm applies. But with voltage tweaking, the “cost” of having more cores is minimal (from a power consumption point of view).

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  • I would have liked to see how the quad 810 processor would have gone, considering it is just one peg above the triple core 720, and a few pegs below the 945 and 955 - perhaps it yields a nice balance/performance/voltage ratio? Certainly interesting given that it is a 95w processor, but possessing four cores, I guess that it would have trumped the 720. Maybe AMD sponsors these articles, and have to sell a few more 720s first.
  • AMD 810 FTW
  • I doubt AMD sponsors these. Have you seen how poorly the 710 does at DivX? I doubt that DivX will change their code for triple core CPUs, so the 720 will behave similarly to the 710. In addition, this guide is an AMD-only guide.