This appears to be an orphaned post that never received answers. Or more likely, it's a duplicate post, and the questions were answered in other threads long, long ago. But I hate for posts to look unanswered, so here are some repeat answers!
Originally Posted by manthing
1) what is the best software app to encode video? by which i mean from one format to another, eg mkv to m2v, or dvd to divx etc.
It really depends on what format you want to encode from, and what you want to encode to. Not all encodes accept all kinds of sources, and not all encodes can output to all known/available formats (or codecs). You'd really need to specify details. Just to throw out a name, MainConcept Reference
is easily the best MPEG-2 encoder and
2) and allied to that software app, what is the best hardware configuration to get? dual core or multi core? will the app utilize graphic card hardware?
Few encodes can truly use multiple cores. Many still only utilize 1-2 CPU cores, while the rest sit idle, or are used by other computer processes. It really depends on the program. Sure, you can get a dual or quad core computer, but the software can only use what's it's been programmed to understand. For an encoding system, I will say that more is usually better. On the other hand, the per-core Ghz speed is generally more important than the number of cores. A 3Ghz dual-core can outperform a 2.4Ghz quad-core, if the software is a two-CPU program.
3) is there a benchmark for video encoding? will at least give me an idea.
Yes and no. Benchmarks are easy to skew, and many times give semi-erratic results. You can compare A/B with a CPU, but if you change the software, or even change the kind or length of source, you may find the performance gap narrow -- sometimes even flip. Magazines that are written by big-time computer nerds (and read by the same) love to create video encoding benchmarks, but in reality it's never so cut-and-dry. The people that perform these benchmarks often don't appear any video knowledge, and thus pick the wrong kinds of settings (or software, sources, etc) to really give an accurate feel for how a CPU or software will perform.
And speed isn't everything anyway -- not in video work.
If for some reason you still have questions at this late date, feel free to reply.