Power Consumption

The original Phenom was hardly power efficient. Especially in a dual-core configuration the 7850 has a fairly wasteful L3 cache built on a 65nm manufacturing process; if you care about thermal output or power consumption the Athlon X2 7850 is no match for the Pentium E5300. The latter is built on the same 45nm process as Intel’s Core i7 and is incredibly mature at this point.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption (x264 HD 1st Pass)

At idle our Athlon X2 7850 and Pentium E5300 systems consumed the same amount of power, but under load the 7850 needed an extra 40W.

Final Words

Sometimes the comparisons you think may be most difficult are the easiest to call. The competition at $70 is actually pretty well defined. Intel has the advantage in nearly all of our non-gaming tests; the E5300 is anywhere from 0 - 20% faster in most cases than the Athlon X2 7850. On top of the actual performance advantage, there’s a power advantage too. With the E5300 you’re getting a 45nm chip that can be cooled by a very low profile heatsink or kept nearly silent with a larger one. In either case you’ll have a cooler running computer, slightly lower power bill, and a more pleasant experience come summer.

If you’re building a gaming box however, the recommendation shifts entirely the other way. The Athlon X2 7850 is the clear winner in gaming performance, significantly outperforming the E5300. In gaming tests the E5300 is simply too cache starved and without an on-die memory controller, each trip to main memory is too costly to compete with the 7850.

The only difficulty comes in if you do both of these things - if you’re building a machine that will be used for demanding 3D games and other CPU intensive work. In that case it boils down to which you care about more and whether or not power consumption matters.

Quite possibly the most interesting take away from this review is that with the Pentium E5300 Intel delivers, at $74, a CPU that is faster than the original Core 2 Duo E6400. And as such, it's also faster than every single Pentium 4 ever made. If you're looking to upgrade from an older Pentium 4 system, it'll cost a lot less than you might guess.

Gaming Performance
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  • JimmiG - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Interesting to see the X4 9850 at 2.5GHz beating the higher clocked Phenom-derived Athlon X2 in many of the game tests. If multithreaded performance of games continue to improve, I think a Quad or Triple core CPU would be more future proof?

    The Phenom II X3 is a very nice AMD gaming CPU at this time and a tempting "sidegrade" even though I've already got a first-generation Phenom X4.
    Reply
  • Davelo - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    and then totally ignores it's original premise. I'm no fanboy but I find it very hard to miss the fact that the Intel solution costs almost $150 more when you factor in the added cost of the motherboard. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I used the X48 simply to allow for direct comparisons to all of the other CPU test data in Bench - www.anandtech.com/bench. The X48 performs similarly to the P45 and the P35 (and many other similar chipsets if you're not overclocking), so the comparison is still valid.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • lopri - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    What about power consumption comparison? Are you penalizing E5300 with X48 there? That'd be incredibly stupid and unfair to E5300.

    And this paragraph makes no sense to me. (literally)
    quote:

    The original Phenom architecture was designed to be used for quad-core processor designs, hence the use of a large shared L3 cache alongside private L2 caches. With only two cores, many of the benefits of this architecture are lost. Intel discovered that the ideal dual-core architecture featured two levels of cache with a large, fast, L2 shared by both cores. AMD and Intel came to the conclusion that the ideal quad-core architecture had private L2 caches (one per core) with a large, shared L3 cache. The Athlon X2 7850 takes the cache hierarchy of the ideal quad-core design and uses it on a dual-core processor. To make matters worse, it does so with an incredibly small L3. Intel found that on its Nehalem processor each core needed a minimum of 2MB of L3 cache for optimal performance. With Phenom II AMD settled on 1.5MB L3 per core. The original Phenom gave each core 512KB of L3, or in the case of a dual-core derivative 1MB of L3 cache. Again, not ideal.


    Interesting review, nevertheless.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    What he was trying to say was, the ideal cache set up for a quad-core is different from a dual-core. The quad-core is best with a relatively small and fast L2 cache, and a significantly larger L3 cache. The dual core is best with a relatively large L2 cache, and no L3 cache. Because AMD's processor is a quad-core stripped down to a dual-core, it has the cache hierarchy of the quad-core, even though it's a dual core now. So, it's not the ideal cache setup. Reply
  • edogawaconan - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Also worth noting that not all lower-end Intel processor includes VT-x which (arguably?) helps accelerating speed for tasks related to virtualization. Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    Actually, Intel's VT or AMD-V doesn't do much for performance. (You'll see this with VirtualBox. What it does provide is a more stable development approach to virtualization for the software programmer.)

    The one area where you will see a performance increase is with "nested paging". (A 2nd generation virtualisation feature).

    In that case, the Phenom-based Athlon X2 clearly wins. NONE of the Core 2 series have nested paging, only Core i7 series...And this Core 2 doesn't have Intel VT either! Nested paging was introduced in all K10 based AMD CPUs. (Its also carried onto K10.5 or Phenom II processors).
    Reply
  • nvmarino - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Considering the low price and low FSB/high multiplier of the E5300 makes it a perfect candidate for overclocking I'm surprised you guys didn't do some OC tests. Would be nice to see the impact of smaller cache at higher clocks.

    My e5300 does 3.7Ghz easily with a PoS air cooler.
    Reply
  • aeternitas - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I think this review needs to be augmented with OC capabilities and the tests redone with them.

    Its highly unrealistic to test these at stock. The mass majority of people that would care about this review at this price are getting these cpus because of the insane bargain when OCed.

    To not test that is really unrealistic. It makes this whole article much less usefull than it could have been.
    Reply
  • nubie - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I went for the e5200 for $59 on ebay. Same chip but with a 12.5 multi instead of 13.

    I plan on running it well north of 3 ghz on a day to day basis, either 1066 or 1333 FSB. Even 1066 will get you a solid 3.4ghz, and it should be able to reach that easily on any motherboard.

    You completely forgot to mention that this is the only 800mhz FSB line on a 45nm process, and thus can be overclocked in any motherboard, including $45 ones with a simple strap on the FSB pads.

    I think that Intel is the clear winner, hands down, if you are an enthusiast with very little money who is not opposed to overclocking.
    Reply

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