3D modeling and rendering
The Cinebench benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D rendering engine. It's multithreaded and comes with a 64-bit executable. This test runs with just a single thread and then with as many threads as CPU cores (or threads, in CPUs with multiple hardware threads per core) are available.
The showing of the full-fat Core i7-2600K tells you much of what you need to know about the Sandy Bridge architecture. Not only are its multi-threaded results easily the fastest for a quad-core processor and, indeed, superior to the Phenom II X6 1100T's, but the single-threaded results show it to have easily the fastest single core around.
We're using the latest beta version of POV-Ray 3.7 that includes native multithreading and 64-bit support.
Valve VRAD map compilation
This next test processes a map from Half-Life 2 using Valve's VRAD lighting tool. Valve uses VRAD to pre-compute lighting that goes into games like Half-Life 2.
Our last few rendering tests don't produce any real surprises. The Phenom II X4 840 is able to outdo the Core i3-2100 in the two POV-Ray tests thanks to the presence of two additional CPU cores, but otherwise, it's the Sandy Bridge show.