A few months have passed since our original foray into the world of Conroe, and official naming has been announced for the processor.  What we've been calling Conroe is now known as Core 2 Duo, with the Extreme Edition being called Core 2 Extreme.  Initial availability of the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors remains unchanged from Intel's original estimates of "early Q3". 

At this year's Spring IDF Intel made the unusual move of allowing us and other press to spend some quality time benchmarking its upcoming Conroe processor.  Unfortunately we were only allowed to benchmark those games and applications that Intel loaded on the system, and while we did our due diligence on the system configuration we still prefer to benchmark under our own terms. 

We're happy to report that we gathered enough parts to build two systems while in Taiwan for Computex.  We managed to acquire a Socket-AM2 motherboard equipped with an Athlon 64 FX-62 and a P965 motherboard equipped with a Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz at our hotel, along with two sets of 2x1GB of DDR2-800 (only 5-5-5-12 modules though), a pair of Hitachi 7K250 SATA hard drives, and two NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTXes (one for each system) - it helps that all the major players have offices in Taiwan.  Of course we happened to pack some power supplies, monitors, keyboards and mice in our carry-on luggage, as well as copies of Windows XP, Quake 4, F.E.A.R., Battlefield 2, SYSMark 2004 and Winstone 2004. 

When faced with the choice of testing Conroe or sleeping , we stayed up benchmarking (we'll blame it on the jet lag later). The stage was set: Intel's Core 2 Extreme vs. AMD's recently announced FX-62, and while it's still too early to draw a final verdict we can at least shed more light on how the battle is progressing. Keep in mind that we had a very limited amount of time with the hardware as to not alert anyone that it was missing and being used for things it shouldn't be (not yet at least), so we weren't able to run our full suite of tests. We apologize in advance and promise we'll have more when Conroe launches, but for now enjoy.

The Test

In case we weren't clear: we acquired, built, installed and tested these two test systems entirely on our own and without the help of Intel.

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 (2.80GHz)
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz)
Motherboard: nForce 590-SLI Socket-AM2 Motherboard
Intel P965 Motherboard
Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI
Intel P965 Chipset
Chipset Drivers: nForce 9.34 Beta
Intel 7.3.3.1013
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar T7K250
Memory: DDR2-800 5-5-5-12 (1GB x 2)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 91.28 Beta
Desktop Resolution: 1280 x 1024 - 32-bit @ 60Hz
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2
Memory Latency and Bandwidth
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  • Gary Key - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    quote:

    so from a gamers perspective, and im guessing gamers are the only ones that care for the bleeding edge, does this cpu do anything for performance in games @ 1280x1024+ resolutions?


    Yes, our tests were run at a lower resolution to keep the GPU from being a "bottleneck" to a certain degree. The performance differences in a couple games at 1600x1200 were slightly better for Conroe than at the 1024x768 setting. We did not have enough time with the 965 board to complete our test suite, but that will be coming in the near future. :-)
    Reply
  • vailr - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Any rumors of when Apple's Conroe based Intel Mac will be released?
    That is: the full-fledged, 64 bit, desktop Mac (replacement for the dual-CPU G5 machine).
    Reply
  • saratoga - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Though "full-fledged, 64 bit" will have to wait a little while until Apple launches a new MacOS version that has 64 bit support. Not that it really matters right now anyway, since 4GB is still enough for most users, and they should be ready in time for these people. Reply
  • saratoga - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Probably about the same time as Conroe launches. Apple is unlikely to sit around while Dell tempts their customers with fast, lower power CPUs. I imagine Apple will probably treat CPUs like they do GPUs. That is, when something substantially better comes out, they'll time it to launch a new tower/laptop/whatever so they don't get caught selling older hardware. Reply
  • flurazepam - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Server lost my last post! Hope it doesn't come up twice! Reiterating what I previously wrote. I'm currently in Taipei and have had the chance to test both the X6800 and the FX-62. Neither "feel" faster than either in normal use, but both "feel" significantly faster than the Pentium DEE. Using low resolution gaming, Conroe runs about 20% faster than the AMD, give or take a few percent. The chap at Intel also said that the Intel chip is not faster in every game or app. There a few apps that AMD can take over Intel. What needs to be done is testing using multithreaded apps run in a multiapp environment. In any case, Intel has a winner here. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 07, 2006 - link

    Quake 4 has SMP support, and it was enabled. SysMark2004 also does some multitasking. Getting a proper multitasking test configured and run takes quite a bit more time, unfortunately, so when given the choice of testing 6-8 applications vs. one multitasking setup, we have to currently settle for the former. In a few more months, we'll of course do our best to provide comprehensive testing. "One night in Bangkok..." er... Taiwan is not the best for getting every ounce of information we would like. :) Reply
  • flurazepam - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Apologies if this post comes up twice Reply
  • thestain - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    LOL.. Just want to see more test.. Anand and the gang.. I wish I was there!! Please no offense on my posts.. just trying to stir the humor pot a little..

    But.. is there some real world application that would put Conroe's FSB memory limit to the test and where AM2 would then perform better, because if not.. it is going to be a cold, dark summer and fall for AMD.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    quote:

    But.. is there some real world application that would put Conroe's FSB memory limit to the test and where AM2 would then perform better, because if not.. it is going to be a cold, dark summer and fall for AMD.
    AM2 was NEVER meant to be a performance boost so to expect anything more is idiotic! Of course, Conroe would outperform AM2 as it is a new design with new improvements. AM2 is just DDR2 on the present tech. Considering that Conroe is all new tech, I expected even GREATER performance from the new platform. Either way, we now have a fair amount of choices when it comes to CPU's. I can now recommend Intel processors to my cusatomers (well I can recommend them next year when prices go down and there are more mid and low end Conroe's available).
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    quote:

    AM2 is just DDR2 on the present tech. Considering that Conroe is all new tech, I expected even GREATER performance from the new platform. Either way, we now have a fair amount of choices when it comes to CPU's. I can now recommend Intel processors to my cusatomers (well I can recommend them next year when prices go down and there are more mid and low end Conroe's available).


    So... when Pentium 4 came out with Willamette core, it was better since it was new right?? I am sure before Conroe benchmarks, people would have thought 20% performance gain by CPU alone was crazy, like the person claiming that would be from another planet.
    Reply

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