Tip #108: Speed Test: i5 vs. i7 CPUs for Video Compression

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #108: Speed Test: i5 vs. i7 CPUs for Video Compression

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Conventional Wisdom says bet on the i7

A chart comparing i5 vs. i7 CPU speeds for video compression
Speed comparison of i5 vs. i7 CPUs running Apple Compressor.

Topic $TipTopic

In a series of tests that I ran comparing the speed of Apple Compressor 4.4.5 running on a 3.8 GHz i5 vs. a 3.2 GHz i7, I discovered that you can’t predict which processor will be faster.

Testing involved XDCAM EX, ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 4444 media and compressing it into H.264, 8-bit HEVC and 10-bit HEVC. (The three test files had different durations, so we can’t compare speed between formats.)

H.264 and HEVC 8-bit are hardware-accelerated. HEVC 10-bit is not. I used the same compression settings for each test.

  • When compressing media for H.264, the i7 is faster 33% of the time (2 out of 6).
  • When compressing media for HEVC 8-bit, the i7 is faster 66% of the time (4 out of 6).
  • Both CPUs running Apple Compressor were unable to successfully compress a ProRes 4444 file into 10-bit HEVC.

Based upon these tests with the latest version of Compressor, I would say the speed is a wash. Some tasks are faster, some are slower.

However, if you are doing any HEVC compression – 8-bit or 10-bit – based on my full suite of tests, Adobe Media Encoder is consistently and significantly faster than Apple Compressor.


Here’s the full report.

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3 replies
  1. Sarv
    Sarv says:

    Great article. My only concern is that you’re not comparing like with like. You’re comparing an i5 with 40Gb of Ram & a better GPU with 8Gb against an i7 with only 8GB of RAM & a lower quality GPU with 1.5GB of RAM.
    So, maybe a more accurate summary would be that an i5 with a better GPU & more RAM can be as quick or quicker on occasion than an i7 with less RAM & worse GPU; OR that RAM & GPU matter as much as processor speed.
    I’m not a computer expert, so someone much more qualified can probably explain this better.

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Thanks for your comments and concern. The tasks I selected to measure speed don’t use the GPU. More RAM affects cacheing, loading files into memory from the hard disk. In an ideal world, both systems should have the same amount of RAM for comparison. The i7 system, a new Mac mini, has a blazing fast NVMe SSD for it’s internal drive.

      Also, every system, depending upon the software you have installed on it, is running different background processes. So, in a sense, a global statement of “this will always be true” is impossible to make.

      Also, here’s a link to the larger article from which this tip was drawn. That provides more details:




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