Intel is very excited about its new Core architecture, especially with Conroe on the desktop. It's not really news to anyone that Intel hasn't had the desktop performance crown for years now; its Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors run hotter and offer competitive or lower performance than their AMD competitors. With Conroe, Intel hopes to change all of that.

From top to bottom - Quad-core 65nm Kentsfield, dual core 65nm Conroe and 65nm Pentium D

Intel setup two identical systems: in one corner, an Athlon 64 FX-60 overclocked to 2.8GHz running on a DFI RD480 motherboard. And in the other corner, a Conroe running at 2.66GHz (1067MHz FSB) on an Intel 975X motherboard.

The AMD system used 1GB of DDR400 running at 2-2-2/1T timings, while the Intel system used 1GB of DDR2-667 running at 4-4-4. Both systems had a pair of Radeon X1900 XTs running in CrossFire and as far as we could tell, the drivers and the rest of the system setup was identical. They had a handful of benchmarks preloaded that we ran ourselves, the results of those benchmarks are on the following pages. Tomorrow we'll be able to go into great depth on the architecture of Conroe, but for now enjoy the benchmarks.

As far as we could tell, there was nothing fishy going on with the benchmarks or the install. Both systems were clean and used the latest versions of all of the drivers (the ATI graphics driver was modified to recognize the Conroe CPU but that driver was loaded on both AMD and Intel systems).

Intel told us to expect an average performance advantage of around 20% across all benchmarks, some will obviously be higher and some will be lower. Honestly it doesn't make sense for Intel to rig anything here since we'll be able to test it ourselves in a handful of months. We won't say it's impossible as anything can happen, but we couldn't find anything suspicious about the setups.

Gaming Performance


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  • Aelius - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    It's nice to see Intel trying to take the lead but this proves no evidence of them being on the top.

    Here are a few things I look for in a system and I'm sure others, with experience building system, will agree too.

    1. Price: If it costs $2000 for an AMD system or $3000 for a similar performance Intel system then you know what I will pick. Bottom line is we don't know price till it hits the streets as availability and other factors will impact it and I never take any price points as gospel from AMD or Intel as stores (retail and online) set the standards. Paper says $300 store says $350 etc. Talk is cheap.

    2. Stability: Unless a stable system exists I won't touch it with a 10 foot pole. I have been burned on both ends by both AMD (most recently due to poor motherboard offerings until just recently under socket 939) and Intel (due to faulty CPUs and re-branding of CPUs under a new name with a few tweaks and sold as new, see class action lawsuits) systems. My next $2000 system is not going into new tech but established proven tech where I won't have to fight for a year and a half to get it to work right or replace half the system to make it so nor worry that I got hoodwinked by a shady company capitalizing on its own brand name.

    3. Bottleneck: Anyone with some knowledge knows that CPU is not the bottleneck in high end systems and nobody in their right mind spends a couple of grand on a mid-high level system to run it at resolutions that you haven't used since the late 90s. Show me scores based on resolutions used in 20" or higher LCDs including widescreens and then I'll bite. So the jury is out for a few months until that happens.

    4. Ethics: I find it very difficult to even think of buying Intel simply because of the company ethics regarding employees and general behaviour (much like any other major corporation) so I'm happy that at least I have an option.

    You won't find performance on my list because its so subjective and because I think it belongs under Stability. It won't matter if you have a horse that can run laps around all others if it decides to stop to smell the roses whenever it damn feels like it.

    So 3 cheers for competition but I'm biting down with a huge grain of salt and most likely won't wait a year to make sure the system is established before I upgrade as that will happen within 6 months for me. Perfect time to get a top end socket 939 system before it's phased out and instead invest the savings into the real Bottleneck found at the mid-high end where I and so many others play. Video cards...
  • PeteRoy - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    AMD fanbois I have one thing to say to you: EAT IT AND LIKE IT Reply
  • sp1nfer - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Possible Intel fanboy: Go wash, brush your teeth, make your bed, have breakfast and go out. There's 6, SIX months ahead, you can predict none. Nice try, who's the fanboy now? Reply
  • saiyan - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    After all, performance per dollar is what everyone should be looking at.
    If Conroes will be priced at around or lower than the comparable AMD processor, I might get one. But then AMD may decide to lower prices on its chips.
    Hmmm.. Competition is good.
  • fikimiki - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    1. If you just compare UT 2004 anand benchmark test for Athlon64 3800+ X2, you will notice that on similar configuration with UT 2004 they can achieve 56 fps 1024x768.
    And Intel on IDF can get 160 (1280x960) on FX machine!!!??

    Do the same comparision to real Anand tests and what was tested on IDF.

    If you belive Intel, you just belive that FX60 2.8GHz is 100% faster than Athlon64 X2 2GHz...
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link


    1. If you just compare UT 2004 anand benchmark test for Athlon64 3800+ X2, you will notice that on similar configuration with UT 2004 they can achieve 56 fps 1024x768.
    And Intel on IDF can get 160 (1280x960) on FX machine!!!??

    Do the same comparision to real Anand tests and what was tested on IDF.

    If you belive Intel, you just belive that FX60 2.8GHz is 100% faster than Athlon64 X2 2GHz...

    Yea yea yea, another skeptic. You might realize Crossfire X1900XT is more powerful than single X850XT PLUS the A64 3800+ may use Botmatch while IDF system may use Flyby. A big difference.
  • JackPack - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    There's about a 0% chance that the timedemos used are identical. You can't draw any conclusion. Reply
  • xenon74 - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy 'cause Kansas is going bye bye!

  • mkone - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    What size file was used in the iTunes test. In one test, a 304MB file tooks 32s to encode on an Athlon FX60, and here, we have 73s, so this file should be at least approximately 696MB. Is this the case. It would be nice to get an indicative figure. Reply
  • Visual - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    I'm with all you guys saying "wow" at these results.
    I can't help but wonder why Intel releases such details right now though. Sure, it's IDF and they just have to brag with their products like every other year, sure it's probably gonna convince a couple enthusiasts to wait up for the release in 6 months and not buy an AMD... but such detailed benchmark results are also like an advance warning to AMD that they need to prepare an "Emergency Edition" chip or some other innovation now for Q3. It might have been a better strategy to just attack out of the sun come August (or try move it even earlier, if they do indeed have it working).
    Also, is it just me or does anyone else find it surprising that they're actually comparing their stuff against an AMD? Up to now, they never even mentioned AMD (nor did AMD mention "Intel", using the more general "the competition" instead). This is the first time I see Intel acknowledging any competition at all.

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