Final Words

Intel's Core 2 Extreme X6800 didn't lose a single benchmark in our comparison; not a single one. In many cases, the $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 actually outperformed Intel's previous champ: the Pentium Extreme Edition 965. In one day, Intel has made its entire Pentium D lineup of processors obsolete. Intel's Core 2 processors offer the sort of next-generation micro-architecture performance leap that we honestly haven't seen from Intel since the introduction of the P6.

Compared to AMD's Athlon 64 X2 the situation gets a lot more competitive, but AMD still doesn't stand a chance. The Core 2 Extreme X6800, Core 2 Duo E6700 and E6600 were pretty consistently in the top 3 or 4 spots in each benchmark, with the E6600 offering better performance than AMD's FX-62 flagship in the vast majority of benchmarks. Another way of looking at it is that Intel's Core 2 Duo E6600 is effectively a $316 FX-62, which doesn't sound bad at all.

We're still waiting to get our hands on the E6400 as it may end up being the best bang for your buck, but even the slower E6300 is quite competitive with AMD's X2 4200+ and X2 3800+. If AMD drops the price on those two parts even more than we're expecting, then it may be able to hold on to the lower end of the performance mainstream market as the E6300 is not nearly as fast as the E6600.

As impressed as we are with Intel's Core 2 processor lineup, we are still very concerned about availability and street pricing. To quote from our last Core 2 preview article:

While Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors will be released at the beginning of Q3 of this year it will take some time for all of Intel's shipments to be Conroe based. The scary statistic is that by the end of this year, only 25% of Intel's Performance Mainstream desktop processor shipments will be based on Conroe. The remaining 75% will still be NetBurst based, meaning they will be Pentium 4, Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition.

...

For the Dells of the world, Conroe availability shouldn't be too much of an issue because companies like Dell get first dibs. For years of not going with AMD, all while demanding something more competitive from Intel, you better believe that Dell is going to soak up every last Conroe that it can.

The problem then becomes what happens after Dell and HP have eaten their lunch; unfortunately the concern is that aggressive pricing won't be enough to reduce retail demand for Conroe. What we're worried about happening is a very small supply of Conroes on the retail market in late Q3/early Q4, resulting in much higher street prices than what you see on page 2. In the worst case scenario for Intel, Conroe's limited retail availability could result in a price to performance ratio equal to or worse than AMD's Athlon 64 X2.

Despite pulling in the official launch date for Core 2 processor benchmarks, shipment dates for the CPUs haven't changed. According to Intel:

Intel Core 2 Extreme processor based systems and boxed product are expected to be available on the day of launch, 27 July. Intel Core 2 Duo processor based systems and boxed product [through places such as Newegg] are expected to be available from 7 August. Each OEM has their own product introduction / transition cycles based upon their target market segment and current product offerings. We expect some to offer product in August with more introductions extending through September. Check with the OEMs of your choice to get their specific message on system availability.

From what Intel is telling us, you shouldn't be able to so much as purchase Core 2 processors until after the first week in August, although you'll be able to get complete systems before then. At the same time, we're hearing that distributors already have some Core 2 parts in stock and will begin shipping very soon. While we tend to believe Intel's assessment of availability, we're hoping it's conservative.

If Intel's availability statements are true or even worse, overly optimistic, then don't expect to be upgrading to a Core 2 system anytime soon. However, if all goes well, although Vista may be delayed until 2007, Intel's Core 2 processors will give you a very good reason to upgrade this year.

Overclocking
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  • finbarqs - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    just to show you how EASY it is to O/C the system! (and for the Futuremark junkies :-) )

    http://www.futuremark.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1...">http://www.futuremark.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1...

    You would want one :)

    if you want to know, 3DMark 2001SE posted a score of 45k, and 3DMark 2003 posted a 33k, FACTORY.
    Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I was wondering if you could possibly do some "single core" performance testing in the CPU's by simply changing the HAL to "ACPI Uniprocessor PC" instead of "multiprocessor PC" This would tel windows to only use one of the Core2 Duo cores, and I think would give us a good indication of how it will perform when released. Especially on the 2MB cache models, since I'm guessing the single cores won't bust out the door with a full 4MB.

    Just some food for thought/consideration. I personally would love to see a few tests run this way and compared to some single/dual core A64's.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Conroe-L is so far off that it's really an afterthought. The only reason it's not shipping is that Intel has a ton of Netburst stuff to offload, IMO. At $145, the PD 945 is still interesting in terms of certain computational tasks. (I miss the QMD Folding@Home cores....) Reply
  • fishbits - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I had hoped AMD could gain even more market-share before something like this happened, would rather see the two CPU makers on more even footing. Intel just hit this one out of the park however, if pricing holds and availability is decent. Was looking at upgrading my 3500 (939) to a $300 X2 4600 after the price drop, but now? It looks like I'll probably keep this system and build a new rig around a $300 Intel 6600, which wins over or smokes the 4600 depending on benchmark. I really don't know what AMD can do to keep me in the short term, because I don't know if they can make any money dropping prices as far as it looks like they'll need to go. Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    One thing to consider though, if you decide to go with the C2D 6600, then you will also have to spend $$ on a new Mobo + Memory (since your DDR RAM won't work on the platforms for C2D. Keep that in mind when you're upgrading. Reply
  • fishbits - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    When I said that if I went with Intel I'd keep my current rig and build a new one around the Conroe, didn't it dawn on you that I'd already "considered" the need to get a new mobo, memory, etc? Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    Holy arrogance.. EXCUSE ME for pointing something out.. Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Well the loads of money they made when they had the better performing architecture can hopefully keep them doing very well also the Opteron isn't really being challenged and thats really their moneymaker right now. They shouldn't have any problems lowering prices on their desktop chips while keeping the status quo on the Opterons. Reply
  • zsdersw - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    They can't really keep the status quo on the Opterons either. Woodcrest excels (or, at the very least, is equal to the Opteron) in the 1P and 2P server space.. which is a huge chunk of the overall server market. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    While I'm sad to see AMD lose the performance crown, I'm not so obtuse as to deny it's happening.

    I'm excited by Intel's newest chip, but I think the results for me will be that I'll buy a faster Athlon 64 X2 when the prices drop (assuming Socket 939 ones become cheaper as well, I don't plan a move to Socket AM2 for some time to come). So Intel's newest chip should benefit even those of us sticking with an AMD system. :)
    Reply

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