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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  • thestain - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    You need higher resolutions and everything turned on to highest imnage quality settings to test this and.. the fsb limit will be more than likely exposed by this sort of test. Test it! Yes, Battlefield 2, etc.. could bring the system to a crawl, so.. ?? does this mean it is not important?

    I have a Dell 2405.. set to 1920X1200... I don't change this for games.. and most still play... some crawl.. a little, but.. I am a prospective buyer for the top cpus from Intel and AMD.. and.. while Conroe looks awfully impressive, it worries me that real world enthusiast class gaming test are not being done.

    No excuses.. they need to be done!!

    Try 1920X1200 resolution.. if you need to put the cards in SLI on both boards.. and this is important.. since Intel chipsets limit SLI.. but it still needs to be tested.

    Turn on everything to the highest setting.. everything.. and lets see how Intel's cpu handles this kind of stress on system memory.

    and.. if Anandtech and Intel are afraid to do this.. it is very telling indeed.

    Mike
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    First, limited testing time and hardware limits what benches can be run. Second, SLI doesn't work on anything but NVIDIA chipsets, which don't exist for Core 2 Duo yet, so single GPU results are the only option for apples-to-apples. (CrossFire should work on 975X Core 2 Duo, but wasn't available at the time.) Third, I have a 2405FPW as well, and I can run everything from 2.0 GHz X2 3800+ to 2.6 GHz FX-60 with a single 7900 GTX GPU and get essentially the same performance at 1920x1200.

    If you're only going to play games at WUXGA, massively upgrading processor performance won't help. End of story - at least until GPUs that are twice as fast become available. This is not an excuse; it is reality. Benchmarking CPUs under GPU-constrained situations doesn't make sense. You can see the results of CPU scaling with a single 7800 GTX in http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">this X2 overclocking article; 7900 GTX would scale better, but eventually you still run into GPU limitations.

    None of the above changes the fact that Core 2 Extreme is substantially faster than FX-62 in current applications. SLI/CF support in the future should actually benefit more, as there's CPU overhead associated with such configurations. Video encoding will also benefit greatly from Conroe's improved architecture.

    In regards to your above comment about 2004 benchmarks, 2005/2006 versions of SysMark and Winstones do not exist, which is why we continue to use older versions. We would love to run PCMark06 and a bunch of other benchmarks (we had some of them available), but time constraints did not allow for comprehensive testing. Rest assured that we have seen nothing from Conroe that indicates serious problems in any applications; at worst it is slightly outpacing FX-62 performance, and at best it can be 50% faster. In general, a 20-25% performance advantage over FX-62 is common.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, June 07, 2006 - link

    Yeah, what he said. :-) Reply
  • neweggster - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    No offense Mike but did you say enthusiast? DELL is no where part of that word. LOL DELL, just the sound of them makes me gasp. In all good fun and humor, no offense. =) Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, June 07, 2006 - link

    That Dell is the monitor. I think even real enthusiasts have nothing against Dell monitors Reply
  • peternelson - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link


    In the table of processors, 805 and 820 are shown as "2Mx2". This is incorrect.

    Both of these processors only have "1Mx2". Please amend.

    Also weren't there some other new low end procs like 925 on the Intel roadmap, due to launch around the same time as Conroe? These may be more attractive than 805 or 820, neither of which can do virtualisation.
    Reply
  • eRacer - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    The Pentium D 945 (3.4GHz, 2x2MB, no VT) should be on that list as well. It is on the July 23rd price list for only $163.

    http://www.hkepc.com/bbs/attachments_dir/ext_jpg/p...">Intel price list
    Reply
  • thestain - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    2004 benchmarks.. Don't you have 2006"

    Poeple who pay the top price to buy these cpus will not be playing games or running applications at 1024 x768,

    At least test these two systems at 1600X1200 or higher.

    Do you have any multi-threaded test? Something newer?

    Anantech is testing the Core 2 Duo at where it will perform best and this is somewhat suspicious. Does anyone who spends the kind of money people will dish out for the x6800 really use an old, rusty monitor with 1024 X768 resolution?

    Conroe might kick butt, but at least give a platform where it goes beyond being tested for single core performance at high resolution, ok??
    Some of us would like to see how it can perform when breaking a sweat in a multi-tasking environment..

    and.. those early memory bandwidth results.. sure are not consistent with the rest of the results are they, any ideas as to why?
    Reply
  • rqle - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    i can benchmark a 1ghz cpu with SLI/Crossfire at 2500x2500 and compare it to an AMD64/conroe and claim the AMD64/Conroe is only 3FPS faster OMG WTH.

    isolating variable, isnt that what you learn in 4th grade science project.
    Reply
  • jkostans - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    By testing at low resolutions they are trying to reduce the impact the video card has on the benchmarks. If you make the video card the bottleneck by upping the resolution, then you aren't really benchmarking the CPUs. The whole point of the article is to benchmark the CPUs. Reply

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