AMD vs. Intel - Clock for Clock

Now it's time to tackle the touchy subject: how do AMD and Intel stack up to one another? First off, let's look at identical clock speeds to compare architectures.

Clock for Clock Comparison - DM-ShangriLa

Clock for Clock Comparison - DM-HeatRay

Clock for Clock Comparison - vCTF-Suspense 

At 3.0GHz, granted at a CPU-bound resolution, Intel holds a 26 - 31% performance advantage over AMD. Intel's Core 2 processors have historically done better clock for clock than AMD's K8, so it's not too much of a surprise, but an important mark in the sand.

We then cranked up the resolution to 1920 x 1200, and increased the world detail slider up to 5 to give us a more realistic situation for this clock speed comparison. The results were a bit surprising:

GPU Bound CPU Comparison - DM-ShangriLa

GPU Bound CPU Comparison - DM-HeatRay

GPU Bound CPU Comparison - vCTF-Suspense  

Despite being a mostly GPU-bound scenario, Intel still managed a 9% performance advantage over AMD at 3.0GHz. We suspect that there's something fishy going on as the test is quite GPU-bound, yet going from Intel to AMD yields a reasonable performance drop.

We looked at a 3.0GHz Athlon 64 X2 and compared it to its closest Intel price competitor, the Core 2 Duo E6550 (2.33GHz) at our high res settings:

The Intel performance advantage drops to 7% on average, but it's much larger than it should be given that we're dealing with a GPU-bound scenario. Note that difference between 2.33GHz and 3.0GHz on Intel is next to nothing, thus proving the GPU-limited case, so we're either dealing with an Unreal Engine 3 issue related to either the AMD CPUs or the nForce 590 SLI chipset/drivers we used. We've let Epic know, but for now it looks like UT3 definitely prefers Intel's Core 2, even when GPU-bound.

Who Cares about Clock Speeds? Overall CPU Comparison


View All Comments

  • Matthew12222 - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    2MB L2 cache VS 4MB L2 cache! And FSB 1000mhz VS 1333mhz. THis is after proving L2 makes a big difference and Fsb a smaller one. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Thursday, February 7, 2008 - link

    I have been enjoying Anandtech now for many years, and have appreciated the articles I've learned so much from for so long. One of the first uses of that knowledge was passing along the review on the HOT 591P to a very good programmer friend, upon which he purchased the board for his at home portion of work.
    That said, I had to finally make a username so I could comment on - the bias that is so often shown against AMD here. It is often subtle, in certain wordings and in less than blatantly obvious ways, but it has bothered me for some time. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles, everyone has a favorite, for whatever reason.
    Concerning this article, I plodded along, and then found out that something was amiss once again with the tests chosen, or the equipment chosen, that resulted in a strange result, to AMD's disadvantage. I've seen it here it seems 100 times. Like good representatives, the articles writers pass along that they notified the manufacturers/companies, relieving some of the disdain for it I tasted. I wonder if AMD feels the same way. I doubt it. I suspect they are and have been angry about it.
    If it was the UT3 game, or the sli board, or whatever, why was the test posted as "valid" when it scientifically proved something other than card framerate limits were amiss ?
    I just can't help wondering how ragingly angry AMD reps are that view this type of thing, over and over again.
    I'm not sure why the bias is so consistent here, but it is here, and I just wish it wasn't.
    I've really never seen this site "unable" to diagnose the most obscure of matters when it comes to performance issues, but then again, if it's an AMD chip, often the two shoulders go up and the blank pout is given, then the applause for Intel is heartily enjoyed.
    If I'm not the first person who has said something like this, good.
    I don't generally read any comments, so maybe everyone has accepted the slant already and moved on.
    Nonetheless I think this site is wonderful, and will no doubt be visiting it for years to come, learning and learning and learning more and more, as much as I can to help me in my endeavors.
    For that, I have real way to repay the good that has been done for me, I hope that in some way exlpains why I feel fine expressing my opinion concerning the processor wars and the handling of the same by this site.
    Thanks to all at anandtech and all the rest of the fans out there.
  • BlackOmega - Thursday, November 8, 2007 - link

    Very useful article.

    Anyway, I would sugest you guys posted the diference in the minimum framerate attained by both processors...

    I'm running a Athlon 4200+ overclocked to 2.8ghz, and after some benchmarking I found out that there are certain areas in game where the frame rate would drop severely. In fly by runs I get 100 fps + running in 1024x768, but in actual game play, places like the ShockRifle/Helmet in Shangrila make the frame rate drop to ~40 fps.

    It would be nice if you guys could test those areas and see how the diferent processors affect minimum frame rate / specially heavy areas of the map.

    I'm also very interested in how cache affects AMD's processors performance.
  • Nil Einne - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    Historically, AMD's A64 architecture has been a lot less cache sensitive then the Intel's C2. It would have been interesting to see how the A64 performance depended on cache akin to the C2 but sadly you didn't test this. Reply
  • Tuvokkk - Sunday, October 21, 2007 - link

    please anand let us know the command to run the flyby benchs and the settings u used so that we can compare our results Reply
  • Zoomer - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    How much disk space does the beta demo take up? I tried to install the 700mb installer and it complains that there's insufficient disk space, even though I have 20gb free in my partition containing my programs and user data, and >200GB spread out over a few other partitions.

    Or does it do a dumb check of c:\ ? That could be a problem; my c partition is only 4 gigs big and contains only windows files.
  • TSIMonster - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I'd like to see how the 2900 does with the addition of AA & AF. Typically, that is where it falls behind slightly. The architecture seems fine, its just the power usage and lack of AA & AF support that gets me thus far. Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    thanks anandtech for a great article!!!! very detailed and informative stuff. cheers again for the article and i hope u revisit it when the full game comes out. Mind u, were u using DX10 or 9 and can u do a comparison on this end too? Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I'm wondering if the large discrepancy in performance between 1M and 4M cache CPU's remains when you turn up the frequency? It seems that a lot of people are buying the lower clocked pentium dual cores and overclocking them to 3GHz speeds. Could you compare the chips in that situation in order to see if the cache matters as much at high frequencies as it does at low frequencies? Reply
  • shuffle2 - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    I would love to see the game run with hardware physics enabled - with both the card installed and also with only the software installed. I currently run the beta demo on highest settings available, including hardware acceleration, and no errors are thrown up at any time. also, the game performs very, very smoothly. Reply

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