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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  • soydios - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Awesome article, as always from AT. Between the article and the 100+ comments above this one, almost all my Conroe questions have been answered.

    ;)
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Wow is all I can say. I don't think there's ever been a performance jump quite like this. AMD will still do ok (not win mind you) on the low-end, where most people live, but the mid-range and high-end is so overwhelmingly in Intel's camp now there's just no comparison. AMD would have to go to 3.4Ghz+ to even be competitive (and still not win mind you).

    My office computers will continue to be AMD Sempron for the forseeable future (AM2 from now on of course), but next time someone wants a CAD box I don't see how I can quote anything but Core 2 Duo.

    Also, loved the dinner table analogy on page 13.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    http://www.tgdaily.com/2006/07/13/dell_xps700_to_f...">http://www.tgdaily.com/2006/07/13/dell_xps700_to_f...

    "Grapevine (TX) - On the day Intel announces its next generation of Conroe desktop processors - which is expected within days - Dell Computer will upgrade its top-of-the-line XPS 700 desktop computer model to offer not only an overclocked Core 2 Extreme CPU, but also the option of two Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX cards in SLI mode. These will apparently replace the Pentium Extreme processor and GeForce 7900 GS options currently available, and will be in addition to the Aegia PhysX accelerator already offered."
    Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Probably an Nf4 chipset since there are motherboards with conroe support using Nf4. Reply
  • Avalon - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    This is one fine architecture. It wound up performing as well as I had suspected it would. Definitely wow. Reply
  • cgrecu77 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I gambled by purchasing a A64 3700+ a few weeks ago when it dropped to under 150 ...
    If I were to upgrade to the cheapest solo I would probably have to pay 500 dollars or more (new cpu, mb and memory) and I will probably get ~ performance in games. I stopped overclokcing a long time ago (except for maybe 10%) because I am tired of my new system becoming unstable after 4 months (plus I don't really need it anymore since nothing I do is really cpu limited).

    98% of people actually buy the cheapest CPUs in a range (A64 2800-3200, x2 3800, C6300). That's where the real competition will be and frankly I'm not impressed at all, A64 is an ~3years old processor and intel's newest product can only beat it by 20%? As far as I can remember the Athlon 3200+ was even worse in comparison to P4 3,2 Ghz and most people still bought the 2500+ Bartons ... So I wouldn't worry too much if I were an AMD stock holder, especially that it looks like Opterons still have no competition in the multi cpu servers (more than 2 ...).

    After all, if Dell decided to use AMD NOW of all times it must mean something, they probably had access to these benchmarks a little earlier than Anand had ... :)

    One thing I would have expected to see for such a new CPU that is supposed to carry the Intel flag for the next 2 years is 64 bit performance. This is probably the last year when 32bit OSes have the upper hand, starting with Vista most people will take advantage of their 64bit cpus. Once the majors concentrate on 64 bit drivers you can be sure that they will gradually take resource from the 32 bit development and the balance will shift very quickly ... If A64 has even a 10% advantage over the Cores combined with the .65 switch it will probably balance the equation to the point where core and a64 will have similar performance per clock ...
    Reply
  • dargaard - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pag...">Some Conroe problems (??) with 64 bit Reply
  • dev0lution - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    I gambled by purchasing a A64 3700+ a few weeks ago when it dropped to under 150 ...
    If I were to upgrade to the cheapest solo I would probably have to pay 500 dollars or more (new cpu, mb and memory) and I will probably get ~ performance in games. I stopped overclokcing a long time ago (except for maybe 10%) because I am tired of my new system becoming unstable after 4 months (plus I don't really need it anymore since nothing I do is really cpu limited).

    98% of people actually buy the cheapest CPUs in a range (A64 2800-3200, x2 3800, C6300). That's where the real competition will be and frankly I'm not impressed at all, A64 is an ~3years old processor and intel's newest product can only beat it by 20%?


    First off, why mention Core Solo when it's totally unrelated to this article and any of the comments?

    Second, socket 939's days are already numbered. You'd have to pay the same $500 to upgrade to the AM2 processors benched in the article, so mentioning this as a diss to Core 2 Duo is pretty weak.

    So you'd have the option of spending $500 to upgrade to a E6600 setup that would beat out a $1200+ AM2 setup. Sounds like a no-brainer. And if you think AMD's going to slash prices below Intel's parts I don't think you can hold your breath that long.

    And 98% of people don't even build their own computers, they buy tier-1... who aren't making nearly that percentage of their systems with the lowest end parts.

    Looks like I'll have a 3200, 3700 and 4000 (939 parts) for sale in the near future...
    Reply
  • MrKaz - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    OK.

    But if you dont want to spent more than 120$ for the processor, the Conroe looks expensive.
    Reply
  • aznskickass - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Dude, 20% is a HUGE margin when you are talking competitive benchmarks.

    When A64 was released back in 2003 it had about a 10% edge on the P4 and people were lauding it for it's leap in performance, and rightly so, considering the AXPs were getting beaten by 10%, so it was a 20% turnaround altogether.

    This time around, it's even more impressive from Intel as they have turned a 10 - 20% performance deficit into a 20% advantage, you really can't expect much more than that, can you?

    What did you expect Intel to do, double A64 performance? I'm sure if they ran their chips @ 4GHz/400FSB they might be able to get close to that, but what is the point when you have beaten your competition so convincingly already?

    Reply

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