Raster Graphics Processing
This is a mixed group of benchmarks, favoring both HT and more cores. The performance growth isn't critical though. The architecture has more influence, so newer processors are again faster than the old ones, but the performance difference never doubles.
Vector Graphics Processing
This group of benchmarks would do fine with a half Core 2 Duo. Results can only be improved by means of the architecture or clock rates. Ivy Bridge CPUs have both, becoming the fastest (although not as fast as in multithreading tests: it's 1.5 superiority at best).
The superiority gets closer to double in video encoding benchmarks (except for Core 2 Duo, but no one really considers dual-core CPUs a choice for these tasks now). The curious thing here is that Hyper-Threading loses efficiency: the better is the Core architecture, the worse is HT. See for yourself: 1st Generation Core i7 CPUs outperformed Core i5 counterparts by nearly 10%, but in the 3rd Generation, the difference has halved. It's easy to explain actually: the 'denser' is the load on one thread, the harder it is to allocate resources to the other thread.
This seemingly 'conservative' group of benchmarks shows surprisingly high boosts, sometimes even better than in other tests. As we said, there's not much sense in this comparison, given the processor class, but it's still nice to see.
Another multithreaded group, and again the new Core i7's are twice as fast as the old Core 2 Quad CPU. That the new Core i5's outperform the old Core i7's is also not a surprise.
As you all probably know by now, in games, processor performance is secondary after that of graphics. But that doesn't mean we should disregard processors completely. The cheapest of modern Core i5's is 50% better than the best Core 2 Duo and 25% better than the most powerful Core 2 Quad. So moving on from LGA775 at the same time as buying a new graphic card seems reasonable for gamers. Although going for the fastest LGA1155 CPU is not. Those who have already moved to LGA1366 or LGA1156 shouldn't worry at all.
First of all, Core i7-3770K is exclusively an overclockers' choice. Yes, there is a certain clock rate difference, but paying 10% more money for just 0.5% more performance isn't worth it. Whether you should go for a Core i7 at all or not is an interesting question. The difference between Core i5 and Core i7 gradually reduces, just as the relative efficiency of Hyper-Threading does. However, it is still considerable in some tasks, so you should choose between these series based on what you need.
Should you move to a newer plaform at all? Well, that depends. As you see, the slowest 3rd Generation Core i5 is still about 1.5 times faster than the fastest LGA775 processor. Take into account the advantages of new motherboards and upgrading within LGA775 would seem less reasonable than moving to a newer platform.
The situation with LGA1156 and LGA1136 is more ambivalent. We only took a look at some of the entry-level CPUs for these sockets, which are 1.5 times slower than Ivy Bridge CPUs at most, and there are faster solutions as well. So if you already have one of these, you may postpone the upgrade till Intel makes another architectural breakthrough (or AMD makes a miracle). If your urge to upgrade is really strong, you should go for a Core i5-3550 and a nice motherboard instead of just a new Core i7-960 for the same price. Or you can take up overclocking, all the more so old platforms are friendlier in that respect.
All in all, everything depends on buyer's point of view. For an optimist, the new processors are slightly faster and more efficient than the old ones. For a pessimist, "slight" might not be worth all that money.
We thank Corsair, Palit for providing PC parts for our testbeds.
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