iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Intel Pentium, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad Processors

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Compilation (VC++)

Visual Studio is omnivorous, so it's difficult to determine priorities here. Additional cores make a significant contribution, but the dual-core Core 2 Duo E8600 still outperforms the triple-core Athlon II X3 435 owing to its high clock rate and large cache. However, quad-core processors are still better. The higher their frequencies and cache size, the better. The old Q9550 even managed to perform on a par with the Core i5-750. But the reduced cache size did not let the Q9505 repeat this feat: performance drops by 5%, quite a lot. And there is a noticeable difference between DDR2 and DDR3, the latter is outperformed here.


Java machine is indifferent to cache size -- it could be expected, considering its active usage in various devices with integrated processors, where large cache is too expensive. But there may be a lot of cores (even if relatively simple), hence parallel optimizations. Results? It's a star hour of the budget Athlon II X4 630, which almost catches up with Core 2 Quad Q9505 using DDR3 memory. It's a nasty surprise for Intel processors.

Audio encoding

The number of cores and their clock rate decide which processor will be the best here, and a large cache is only a hindrance (any cache size is not big enough for streaming tasks). As a result, Pentium E6500 catches up with Core 2 Duo E7600, despite its lower frequency, and Core 2 Quad Q9505 outperforms the Q9550. The Q9505 demonstrates similar results with different memory types. But if we take a look at detailed results, we'll see that DDR3 is a tad better. So there is some use from synchronous frequencies of the memory bus and FSB, even though the overall throughput of the former is always noticeably higher (owing to dual channels) than that of the latter.

Video encoding

This group of programs is essentially a projection of the entire software market in miniature -- it includes a single-thread Canopus as well as applications that can use multiple cores to this or that degree of efficiency. With corresponding results. However, as we can see, budget triple-core processors from AMD can compete with top dual-core and low quad-core processors from Intel. But only quad-core processors can yield 100 points and higher regardless of the manufacturer and architecture. However, that's exactly where Core i5-750 breaks away from its competitors, which makes LGA1156 the best choice for all cases, if you are ready to pay for it. If you are not -- Socket AM3 is an excellent choice for the thrifty. What about LGA775? It can be recommended in one case only: if you already have a Mid- or High-End quad-core processor for this platform, you will get good practical results. If you have a dual-core processor, you can upgrade it to a quad-core model (without changing the platform).

3D games

Core 2 Duo processors had been considered the optimal choice for games for a long time -- inexpensive, but high-clocked and equipped with large L2 Cache, they easily coped with games, most of which couldn't handle more than two cores. However, games have grown their requirements of late. Core 2 Duo E7000 processors are not designed for games, although its top representative demonstrates acceptable results in some applications. There is an interesting situation with the E8000 series -- the E8600 is a good model: it even outperforms the Core i5-750 in STALKER and Crysis. Cool! And now the reverse side: its results in GTA4 are lower than those of any quad-core processor from Intel (even the cheapest Q8200). It can compare only with modern budget quad-core models from AMD. However, active search in the table with results returned even a slower quad-core processor -- the ancient Phenom X4 9850. But even this processor is simply outscored (48 and 46 frames per second is far from a knockdown). No comments.

We haven't touched upon pricing yet. The E8600 is more expensive than even budget-not quad-core models (in fact, it was getting close to the Core i7-860 at the time this article was written, to say nothing of such processors as Core i5-750 or Core 2 Quad Q9550). Thus, having demonstrated an acceptable result, the E8600 still leaves the list of contenders for the right gaming choice. As we have already mentioned, the E7600 fails to enter this list from the point of performance either, so the other E7000 models have nothing to do here. To say nothing of Pentium.

However, it does not mean that all dual-core processors are not fit for games. There are still games with engines that cannot use more than two threads. So high-speed dual-core processors still demonstrate very good results there. The only problem - such applications usually do fine even with the relatively inexpensive models. You can see it in STALKER: Clear Sky: Pentium E6500 yields almost 52 FPS, that is it's only 7 FPS as slow as a much more expensive Core 2 Duo E8600. Processors with three or four cores are a better choice for an all-purpose gaming product (which will run any games with reasonable settings). Especially if you don't save too much on them.

There is a very interesting difference between the Q9505 and Q9550 -- we know that games love large caches. However, there is a big difference between 3MB vs. 6MB and 2x3MB vs. 2x6MB. The Q9505 is certainly slower than the Q9550, but the difference is simply funny. It's smaller than the difference between DDR2 and DDR3. So considering that the new processor is noticeably cheaper than the old, but demonstrates high performance in all games, it's very good news for buyers.

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Page 1: Introduction, testbeds

Page 2: Tests

Page 3: More tests

Page 4: Conclusions

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