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Benchmark Results: PCMark Vantage

Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition Review

In Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review, I noticed that AMD’s Phenom II X6 wasn’t seeing better performance because most components in the benchmark suite didn’t seem to be taking advantage of more than four cores.

The same issue afflicts Intel’s new Core i7-990X Extreme Edition, giving us our first real indication that this $1000 processor is simply out of its element in the mainstream desktop space. The result is that we have to watch the sub-$400 Core i7-2600K take a first-place finish, followed by the -990X and -980X.

You have to look hard for examples of the six-core Gulftown-based processors outmaneuvering the more efficient Sandy Bridge-based Core i7-2600K. And, in PCMark Vantage, only one exists: the Communications suite. According to Futuremark’s whitepaper, Communications is predominantly processor-intensive.

There are four components in Communications—all multitasked workloads. Three of the four involve either AES-based encryption or decryption as part of the task list (data compression, Web page rendering, Windows Defender, and audio transcoding are among the other components). That gives the Gulftown- and Sandy Bridge-based chips and advantage, since they’re the ones with AES-NI support.

However, the fact that Intel’s Core i7-2600K delivers greater AES hashing bandwidth, as you’ll see in our SiSoft Sandra 2011 tests, suggests the Sandy Bridge chip should be taking first-place here—unless of course this suite can tax more than four cores/eight threads.

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