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Top Dual/Quad-Core CPUs: Enticing Heights

Testing four top processors from Intel and AMD.

July 28, 2008



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It was not difficult to come up with a topic for our today's article, because many readers demanded this very analysis: comparison of top processors from Intel and AMD. Even though we state repeatedly that these top products differ very much, and their comparison makes little sense, our readers still want to know the truth, no matter how bitter it is. Well, here is your bitter truth as it is. :) We even added in the last 90nm dinosaur that appeared in times of dual-core K8 processors - Athlon 64 X2 6400+ 3.2 GHz (a record-breaking frequency for its core). So we offer the complete set: indeed, it includes two fastest dual-core processors from both competitors and two fastest quad-core products. We decided not to include triple-core processors into our article, because Intel does not offer any. However, we've already tested Phenom X3 8750, so you can always add necessary data virtually. OK, are you ready for the "bitter truth"? Let's go then!

Hardware and software

Testbed configurations


CPU Motherboard Memory Video
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe Corsair TWIN2X4096-9136C5DF GeForce 8800 GTX
AMD Phenom X4 9850 ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe Corsair TWIN2X4096-9136C5DF GeForce 8800 GTX
  • Memory: 4 GB (4 x 1 GB modules)
  • HDD: Samsung HD401LJ (SATA-2)
  • Coolers: Thermaltake TMG i1, TMG a1
  • Power supply unit: Cooler Master RS-A00-EMBA
Processor Athlon 64 X2 6400+ Phenom X4 9850 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Extreme QX9770
Core name Windsor Agena Wolfdale Yorkfield
Fabrication process, nm 90 65 45 45
Core clock, GHz 3.2 2.5 3.16 3.2
Number of cores 2 4 2 4
L1 cache, I/D, KB* 64/64 64/64 32/32 32/32
L2 cache, KB** 2x1024 4x512 6144 2x6144
L3 cache, KB - 2048 - -
FSB clock, MHz*** 2x800 (DDR2) 533 (1066) 333 (1333) 400 (1600)
Multiplier 16 12.5 9.5 8
Socket AM2 AM2+ LGA775 LGA775
Heat dissipation**** 125 W 125 W 65 W 130 W

* Per single core in multi-core processors.
** "X x Y" means "X KB per each of Y cores".
*** In AMD processors it's memory controller bus frequency.
**** Specified differently in Intel and AMD processors, so a direct comparison would be incorrect.

Software


Application 64-bit Multi-threaded*
Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2 + +
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 + +
Autodesk 3ds max 9 SP2 + +
V-Ray 1.5 SP1 + +
Autodesk Maya 2008 Ultimate + +
NewTek Lightwave 3D 9.2 + +
SolidWorks 2007 SP0.0 + +
PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 M120 + -
UGS NX5 5.0.0.25 + +
Wolfram Research Mathematica 6 + +
MapleSoft Maple 11 - +
MathWorks MATLAB 2007 + +
Adobe Photoshop CS3 10.0 - +
Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 + +
Apache HTTP Server 2.2.8 - +
PHP 5.2.5 - +
MySQL Community Server 5.0.51a - +
ACDSee 10 Photo Manager - +
xat.com Image Optimizer 5.10 - -
IrfanView 4.10 - -
XnView 1.93.4 - -
Paint.NET 3.30 + +
7-Zip 4.57 + +
WinRAR 3.71 - +
UltimateZip 3.2 - -
FLAC 1.2.1 - -
LAME-MT 3.97 + +
Musepack MPC Encoder 1.16 - -
Nero Digital Audio Encoder 1.1.34.2 - +
Ogg Encoder 2.83 (Lancer) - +
Canopus ProCoder 3.0 - +
DivX Codec 6.8.2 - +
XviD Codec 1.1.3 Final - -
x264 Codec rev 807 - +
VirtualDub 1.8.0 - +
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Patch 1.5) - +
Call of Juarez (Patch 1.1.0.0) + DX10 Enhancements Pack - -
Crysis (Patch 1.2) + +
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Patch 1.006) - +
Unreal Tournament 3 (Patch 1.2) - +
Company of Heroes (Patch 1.71) - +
World in Conflict (Patch 1.007) - +

* Means that two or more simultaneously active threads are actually present during tests; not just the fact that a process generates several threads.


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