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A similar result was posted in our WinRAR test, but this time the margin of victory was much greater for the Sandy Bridge Extreme.
The i7-3960X also won our iTunes encoding test, but just barely, and again with poorer energy efficiency. The relative power consumption wasn't as bad in this test as it did still manage to use less power than all of the contestants from AMD.
A 13% performance improvement over the i7-2600K was noted in our TMPGEnc video encoding test, but it was coupled with a 42~46% jump in power consumption. It was only eclipsed in inefficiency by the FX-8150 and Nehalem based i7-965 XE.
The Sandy Bridge Extreme CPU dominated in HandBrake, typically our most demanding test. It posted a 29% faster time than its closest rival, the FX-8150. Like our TMPGEnc test, the power draw was much greater as all six cores were hard at work.
We arrived at our overall performance score by weighing each test equally (each composing 1/6 of the total). Mathematically, a processor that finishes first in every single test receives a score of 100.
As the i7-3960X won all of our tests, it lands the top spot in our final performance chart, with the quad channel 8GB memory configuration scoring slightly higher than the dual channel 4GB setup. The i7-2600K was about 13% slower overall, but if the weighting was higher for multithreaded applications, the i7-3960X would dominate.
We unfortunately don't have any testing data on the six core Nehalem processors, but seeing as even the Core i5-2500K beat the Core i7-965 XE rather handily, we can surmise that the i7-3960X would be a significant improvement.
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