The benchmarking procedure (the list of software and test conditions) is described here. To make the diagrams easier to read, the results are represented in percent (100% stand for the result of Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 in each test). The detailed results and absolute values are provided in this spreadsheet.
The dispersion between the slowest and the fastest is smaller than two times, the slowest being the old, but "fair" quad-core AMD Phenom X4 9850. But we believe you are not that surprised, because we all know that this kind of tasks only load one or two cores. This makes clock rate and cache critical, while increasing the number of supported threads has no effect, because those are not used. Of course, Core i7 Extreme remains the leader, but only because there are simply no dual-core processors with similar clock rate and cache. The best of the aforementioned dual-core CPUs, Core 2 Duo E8600, managed to wedge itself deep into the ranks of other Core i7 processors, easily outperforming processors from other series.
In turn, final scene rendering is a kind of task that can use any reasonable number of threads available. The gap between the slowest and the fastest is already nearly 4.5 times, the slowest being Celeron E3300 which is up-to-date enough. On the contrary, the first-generation Phenoms are not whipping boys anymore. Their architecture is not the best, clock rates are not quite high, cache is small, but all of that is compensated by 3-4 cores. Already Phenom X3 8750 easily outperforms all regular dual-core processors, except for Core 2 Duo E8600. In turn, Phenom X4 performed on a par with that of Core 2 Quad Q9300 or Core i5-660/661. However, all this just gives comfort to the owners of these old CPUs. Because there's really no sense in buying them now -- as you can see, the low-end Athlon II outperforms the first Phenom, the amount of cores being the same.
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