iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Intel Pentium, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad Processors

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LGA1156 processors are conquering computers with confidence, but the good old LGA775 socket is not going to surrender yet. These processors have nothing to do in the top segment, of course. They cannot compete with Core i5/i7. However, the top segment yields relatively low sales, while the old Core 2 Duo and low models of Core 2 Quad are beyond competition in mainstream segments -- dual-core Core i3/i5 and Pentium processors will appear in the market only in January. Then it will take some time for these models to fill the market, then users will have to wait for the appearance of inexpensive motherboards (there are some models even now, but for the last six months manufacturers have focused on top models). Many users don't like the latest products, as they don't want to singe their feathers - they prefer simple and time-proven solutions. Besides, many users already have systems with LGA775 processors, so they like the idea of a minor upgrade better than the total upgrade of the platform. So even if these processors are not interesting to review, it's still necessary, at least to compare them with the new products.

The last time we addressed Core 2 Quad was in late August, and some representatives of Core 2 Duo and Pentium were tested in mid-October. Some of them, but not all. In particular, we had failed to obtain the top C2D (E8600) processor. The line of Pentiums was also supplemented with Pentium E6500. It got close to the magic mark of 3 GHz, which used to be accessible only to overclockers or owners of extreme processors (for example, Core 2 Extreme X6800 differs from the processor under review only in the process technology, TDP, and cache size). Pentium E6600 will cross this line in the first quarter next year. That will probably be the end of this series. Just like E7600 and E8600 (the latter is for sure, the former -- with a probability of 90%) will close their model lines.

Core 2 Quad series was also updated, although it may be considered as a step backward. On the other hand, the C2Q Q9505 also risks becoming the fastest in its series -- faster models come with 12 MB of L2 cache, so they are very expensive to manufacture, and they are outperformed by Core i5-750. They will definitely be discontinued. And the new processor should have been called Q9500. However, the company chose another variant to stress than the new product differs from the old Q9550 only in the reduced cache size. And in price, of course. So, in fact, our today's article is the last review of LGA775 processors, the top models.


CPU Pentium E6500 Core 2 Duo E7600 Core 2 Duo E8600 Core 2 Quad Q9505
Core name Wolfdale-2M Wolfdale Wolfdale Yorkfield
Process technology, nm 45 45 45 45
Core clock, GHz 2.93 3.06 3.33 2.83
Multiplier 11 11.5 10 8.5
FSB clock, MHz 1066 1066 1333 1333
Number of cores 2 2 2 4
L1 cache, I/D, KB 32/32 32/32 32/32 32/32
L2 Cache, KB 2048 3072 6144 2 x 3072
Socket LGA775 LGA775 LGA775 LGA775
TDP, W 65 65 65 95
Price Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon

We've already written everything about the main contenders above -- they are top models in their series just like the Core 2 Duo E7600, which we tested the last time. Some of them already sit on top, the others will take it in future, most processors are destined to pass away unbeaten.

CPU Core 2 Quad Q8200 Core 2 Quad Q9550 Core i5-750
Core name Yorkfield Yorkfield Lynnfield
Process technology, nm 45 45 45
Core clock (std/max), GHz 2.33 2.83 2.66/3.2
Initial multiplier 7 8.5 20
Turbo Boost - - 4-4-1-1
Number of cores 4 4 4
L1 cache, I/D, KB 32/32 32/32 32/32
L2 Cache, KB 2 x 2048 2 x 6144 4 x 256
L3 cache, KB - - 8192
Uncore frequency - - 2.13
Memory - - 2 x DDR3-1333
QPI/FSB 1333 MHz 1333 MHz 4.8 GT/s
Socket LGA775 LGA775 LGA1156
TDP, W 95 95 95
Price Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon

We had no problems selecting processors for our comparison. We apparently couldn't forget about the Q9550 -- the closest processor to the Q9505. We also included the Q8200 -- the cheapest quad-core processor from Intel. And finally Core i5-750 -- it's out of competition here (even though it has similar price to some of the other contenders). But it defines the upper limit: it helps us determine whether it makes sense to stick to the old platform or it's time to migrate.

CPU Athlon II X2 250 Athlon II X3 435 Athlon II X4 630
Core name Regor Rana Propus
Process technology, nm 45 45 45
Core clock, GHz 3.0 2.9 2.8
Multiplier 15 14.5 14
Memory 2 x DDR3-1066 2 x DDR3-1333 2 x DDR3-1333
Number of cores 2 3 4
L1 cache, I/D, KB 64/64 64/64 64/64
L2 Cache, KB 2 x 1024 3 x 512 4 x 512
Socket AM3 AM3 AM3
TDP, W 65 95 95
Price Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon

There are also three guests from AMD. We've formed a motley selection of Intel processors, so we decided against selecting competitors by price and positioning. We'll confine the article to familiar representatives of the budget Athlon II series: X2 250, X3 435, and X4 630, which are also top products in their series. The first two are designed to lure users away from Celerons, Pentiums, or low models of Core 2 Duo. The latter series is very interesting: it includes the cheapest quad-core processors, which have no direct counterparts from Intel. It will be interesting to compare all these processors. We could have added Phenoms to this group, as even the top model from this series (Phenom II X4 965) after the latest price drop competes with the Q9505. But we shall not do it to keep our diagrams to readable size. All results are traditionally published in our table. And if you like the traditional graphics form of data representation, we'll publish it soon.

Socket Motherboard Memory
LGA775 DDR2 ASUS P5Q Deluxe (P45) Corsair CM2X2048-8500C5D (2 x 1066, 5-5-5-15-2T)
LGA775 DDR3 ASUS P5Q3 (P45) Kingston KVR1333D3N9K3/6G (2 x 1066, 8-8-8-19-2T for FSB 1066; 2 x 1333, 9-9-9-24-2T for FSB 1333)
AM3 Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P (AMD 770) Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX (2 x 1066/1333, 7-7-7-20-1T, Unganged Mode)
LGA1156 Gigabyte P55-UD6 (P55) Kingston KVR1333D3N9K3/6G (2 x 1333, 9-9-9-24)

Even though the upgrade to DDR3 is the main trend of the computer industry, and it's physically impossible for some processors to use DDR2, this time we decided to step away from the rules and test Core 2 Quad Q9505 with DDR2 as well. The fact is, we didn't test the Q9550 with DDR3 memory. However, these processors must be compared in as similar conditions as possible (besides, the Q9300 was tested only with DDR2, and it's a reference point for the current version of our test procedure). We'll also analyze another interesting point: how memory of different types affects performance in real applications. FSB 1333 is the most interesting option here: as DDR2 stopped at a lower level, DDR3 gets a formal tiny advantage in bandwidth. We already saw that it cannot be implemented in practice. However, we didn't do a direct comparison (with the same processor) using a sterling test procedure. So it's high time to do it.

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