Intel Core i5 661 Review

By on January 3, 2010, 11:05 PM
Intel is getting into high gear with their Core processor family early on the new year, as they are set to release 6 new desktop processors and 11 mobile processors this month. Along for the ride will be 3 new chipsets for desktop PCs and 4 oriented towards mobility. Today we will be looking at the Core i5 661, one of four new Core i5 processors. The other models include the Core i5 650, 660 and 670. Based on this naming scheme the Core i5 661 doesn't seem to fit quite right. Furthermore, Intel will charge $196 for both the 660 and 661 processors, but we'll break it down for you so you can gain complete understanding of the new processor line-up being announced today.
But before delving into more detail there's a thing or two you will want to know about the new Core i5 600 CPUs. This new series is based on the 32nm Westmere die shrink of the Nehalem architecture and goes by the code-name Clarkdale. Of most relevance, all processors in the series feature a built-in GPU. Read the complete review.




User Comments: 34

Got something to say? Post a comment
dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Mmmmmmm super-speedy dual core with on-die Intel graphics......Sort of like having a wooden park bench as the seating arrangement in your Ferrari 599

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Thanks for the review.

I'd appreciate a medium size for images. I tried to look at the media features table, which is too hard to read in the small image, and too huge in the large image. (Though doing "View image" and letting the browser scale it worked.)

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

4.60ghz... that's crazy! Also crazy is Intel's i3/i5/i7 naming scheme - how the hell would a normal person know which processor is which?

BMfan BMfan said:

slh28 said:

4.60ghz... that's crazy! Also crazy is Intel's i3/i5/i7 naming scheme - how the hell would a normal person know which processor is which?

That's easy,you just do what most people do and that is listen to the computer shop tells you to buy.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I agree the naming scheme is messed up. I guess i will continue to be looking at the benchmarks to determine what to buy.

Puiu Puiu said:

These new CPU's are weak compared to what AMD can offer for the same amount of money (platform wise).

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Puiu said:

These new CPU's are weak compared to what AMD can offer for the same amount of money (platform wise).

Not to mention the savings in not having to change your motherboard every time Intel decides they want to require a new chipset. My AM3 motherboards will have plenty of CPU options for quite a while...

Xecutor Xecutor said:

Even performance-wise, AMD has the superior CPU, or is at par with these new Intel i5's. Only in a couple of instances does the Intel CPU seem to overtake AMD, but when you think about it, does buying a new CPU that requires a completely new chipset everytime, and whose mobos cost a lot to build justify their price point? I think not, since AMD has the right answer to it: transferrability with its AM2+/AM3 capable mobos. Longevity will work in AMD's favour for now for the right price. Intel still has to learn about doing that; however, the corei7's do show their ability to innovate, but if they could integrate AMD's ability to maintainthe same chipset for multiple CPUs, Intel could gain bigger market.

Guest said:

Funny how you used DDR2 and an old Mobo for AMD

while show casing how "Great" the new Intels DDR3 chipsets are

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ah, but Xecutor, you have missed one crucial part of the equation: If Intel does the customer-friendly thing and maintains the same chipset/configuration for their processors, they can't sell all these new chipsets that they like to make up. Think about it, right now Intel assumes we are all complete ******, and comes out with shiny new CPUs that are the "best thing since sliced bread" or something like that, then when consumers jump at them, there's the "oh yah, and you also need to buy a new board that uses our shiny new chipset too!" They get to double-dip whenever they sell the new CPUs, until there is a market saturation and motherboards are being updated with newer processors, then it's time to come up with a new CPU/chipset configuration and start all over again.

There's a reason Intel was fighting nVidia's right to make chipsets for their new processors... Don't want someone else to interfere with their double-dipping scam

Puiu Puiu said:

@Vrmithrax i don't know if the double-dip really works for them. i believe they really were obligated to release a new chipset because of the integrated igp which doesn't work on the old one. they could have made it possible for the p55 chipset to work with these new cpu's but then when they lunched them they would have to make them more expensive which would have been counterproductive since they wanted to compete with AMD at a lower price range.

Puiu Puiu said:

Also most people don't just upgrade the CPU, they buy a new PC

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I see where you are coming from, Puiu, but there is a bigger picture if you step back... Intel has a massive rash of changing socket types and supporting chipsets. As you indicated, people often just buy new computers, which Intel is trying to guarantee will have their chipsets and CPUs in them (double-dip). If they supported the older architectures, they wouldn't necessarily make as much, since the stockpile of existing motherboards could be tapped into. By forcing constant updates and upgrades, they are creating a market for their chipsets by proxy, as the next model won't work with previous boards. Doing this adds a constant development cost and complexity to motherboard builders. (and yes, I know that some of the reason for the changes is due to advances in the bus architectures, but so many variations in a short time is ridiculous).

In contrast, look at AMD. They had the AM2, upgraded to the AM2+, now have AM3. Lots of backwards compatibility, plenty of familiarity and common parts bases, low stress for the motherboard manufacturers to keep churning them out. No requirements for new chipsets every 12 seconds. Gradual movement to newer memory systems (DDR3), rather than forcing you to jump in that respect too. It seems to be a more gentle philosophy, and makes you wonder if AMD didn't think well beyond the box to plan their path (and come up with a good architecture capable of longevity), while Intel is just hopping around making all these parallel innovations that constantly render their previous work irrelevant. Looking at the product paths, it's like AMD is a nice straight stretch of highway, while Intel is whipping around hairpin curves constantly... heh

Guest said:

it would be interesting to know how new dual cores can perform against existing quad processors(core 2 quad)

it would be nice to know your opinions on this

thanks

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Funny how you used DDR2 and an old Mobo for AMD

while show casing how "Great" the new Intels DDR3 chipsets are

That's not funny at all because the system specs clearly stated that we used DDR3. In any case when did the AMD processors become much faster with DDR3 memory opposed to DDR2?

it would be interesting to know how new dual cores can perform against existing quad processors(core 2 quad)

it would be nice to know your opinions on this

thanks

Did you read the review, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 was featured, arguably the most popular processor of the entire Core 2 Quad series.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Aaaah, another Intel release....and you know what that means boys and girls?

Yes, you guessed it....A whole thread filling with the wailing angst of Goth-like AMD persecution disciples.

Your prize? Why, certainly, here's a bright shiny 955BE, with industry equalling three year warranty...or at least until they go Chapter 11

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

4.60ghz... that's crazy! Also crazy is Intel's i3/i5/i7 naming scheme - how the hell would a normal person know which processor is which?

Crazy ? No, that's not crazy.....this is crazy...http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=921805

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Aaaah, another Intel release....and you know what that means boys and girls?

Yes, you guessed it....A whole thread filling with the wailing angst of Goth-like AMD persecution disciples.

Your prize? Why, certainly, here's a bright shiny 955BE, with industry equalling three year warranty...or at least until they go Chapter 11

why I take offense sir! I have never dawned white face or black lipstick! unfortunately you may be right. if AMD doesn't come up with a new architecture that rivals Intels i series, AMD will go the way of Cyrix, and we will lose the competitive nature of the CPU market.

......personally, I blame this on bigfoot,area 51, ....and of course Brett Favre! :p:p

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

On a less flippant note than my post.....

Luckily, I think AMD probably won't disappear. Various financial and economic regulatory factors make it extremely unlikely Intel would be left with a virtual monopoly in the consumer chipset market -regardless of how much they are attempting to achieve this.

I do think AMD is heading for a financial meltdown-maybe not in the short term-but it's coming. And when it does it's going to be interesting to see how the company is carved up...and who does the carving.

ATI are bouyant at the moment, and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future as Intel's on-die graphics are no threat to the market that updates it's graphics cards on a regular basis, and I wouldn't imagine that nVidia's new mid-range will be ready before the start of Q3 2010. I'd be more than a little surprised if nV were to compete in the $US70 bracket as well.

AMD's server market I think takes a big hit if Tesla fulfils only a fraction of it's promise. The power savings alone are enough to consign conventional server tech to the scrapheap.

Which leaves AMD's home computing....From my viewpoint the majority of people who use computers probably couldn't tell what architecture that was under the heatspreader in their computer-there's just not that big an empirical performance difference in most applications.

When I ask about preference (if any) when I build a system for someone- the answer is more likely than not, Intel. Not from a performance based assessment, but from an assumption that Intel is number 1, and AMD is number 2. I think AMD users are well aware of this- unfortunately their evangelical determination in the public forum tends to hinder rather than help the cause because unlike the ATI v NVIDIA handbags-at-ten-paces, Intel users don't tend to rise to the bait as often leading to AMD top-heavy comments and rhetoric in the media which is as likely to be themed as Intel bashing rather than singing the praises of AMD.

Among the people I build for, the adage "Walk softly but carry a big stick" could well apply to their choice of hardware.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I agree with most of that. The last thing that Intel wants is for AMD to disappear. they merely want to keep them in the high single digits of market share.if they were to run them out of town, it would open up an endless train of 'monopoly' litigation, and the new investors in the middle east know this.

Like you, when people come to me for a new build they usually walk through the door screaming "intel" , and for the same reasons. they have no idea why they want it other than the correct perception that Intel is better. as for the "evangelical determination" of AMD owners, that can be chalked up to the human nature (mostly) of peoples need to defend their decisions. I have been a defender of AMD in recent years for their price to performance ratio in their product line, but with Intels offerings of the last year, its getting very difficult to justify an AMD build.

.....and BTW....what do you mean by "flippant"? you are the one that picked on Brett.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

.....and BTW....what do you mean by "flippant"? you are the one that picked on Brett.

Lol ! I was of course referring to my own earlier comment. I did edit but I think we posted at the same time......I shouldn't pick on Brett I suppose as "he's only having fun out there!" (and semi famous in a country that has no organised American Football playing at all)

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

.....and BTW....what do you mean by "flippant"? you are the one that picked on Brett.

Lol ! I was of course referring to my own earlier comment. I did edit but I think we posted at the same time......I shouldn't pick on Brett I suppose as "he's only having fun out there!" (and semi famous in a country that has no organised American Football playing at all)

....okay .... now i demand that you tell me the name of your most famous rugby.......or soccer star, so i can ridicule him! :p

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

....okay .... now i demand that you tell me the name of your most famous rugby.......or soccer star, so i can ridicule him! :p

As Rugby is the national game....Ritchie McCaw (All Black's captain, World Rugby Player of the Year) , or Dan Carter (All Black flyhalf/first five-eighth) who has the status of Tom Brady here (minus the Brazilian model and Bawwwwston faithful)

Guest said:

funny yesterday it was a DDR2 Mobo a deactivated item on Newegg

now lo an behold its been changed to a DDR3 mobo

your not the only site ive called on PRO intel benchmarks

Guest said:

what like 20 to 3 pro Intel mobo reviews

at least be honest your pro Intel

Staff
Steve Steve said:

what like 20 to 3 pro Intel mobo reviews

at least be honest your pro Intel

My honest opinion is that you have no idea what you are talking about. We tested with a DDR3 motherboard that features AMD's fastest chipset. Again having said that where is the evidence that AMD processors are much slower with DDR2 memory using an older chipset? Furthermore our conclusion did not sound very bias towards Intel at all but then I am sure you didn't read it.

Guest said:

Great review! I just missed one thing. Did you measure the power consumption with ONLY the integrated GPU activated and the gtx 285 removed?

Thanks!

Staff
Steve Steve said:

From the power consumption page..

"Our power consumption test takes into consideration the complete platform running the same third-party components (graphics, etc.). The built-in graphics from the Core i5 661 were turned off so we could make a straight comparison against the rest of the systems using a GeForce GTX 285 graphics card."

So for comparisons sake we tested with GeForce GTX 285 plugged in but at idle.

Guest said:

, post: 852377"]From the power consumption page..

"Our power consumption test takes into consideration the complete platform running the same third-party components (graphics, etc.). The built-in graphics from the Core i5 661 were turned off so we could make a straight comparison against the rest of the systems using a GeForce GTX 285 graphics card."

So for comparisons sake we tested with GeForce GTX 285 plugged in but at idle.

But the average customer would probably buy 661 just because of the integrated GPU, right? And not replace it with an additional graphics card... I don't see the point of buying 661 if that were the case? And therefore it would be nice to know the consumption of the system as it was meant to be configured. With the internal GPU activated and nothing else.

That's what I'm thinking, anyway.

Punkid said:

Thanks for the review but I personally believe that GPU on the same die as the CPU is not a good idea, its not flexible, u cant customize it and ur stuck with it even if u dont want it

Staff
Steve Steve said:

thanks for the review but i personally believe that GPU on the same dye as the CPU is not a good idea, its not flexible, u cant customize it and ur stuck with it even if u dont want it

True but how is that different from any IGP? For mainstream GPU's this is not a bad idea in terms of efficiency.

Guest said:

Thanks for the great review, it's given me enough information to decide that the i5-661 is suitable for my new ITX build.

From what I can see of the review, the test methods were well set up, documented and unbiased. Unfortunately for the AMD fans their offerings didn't quite cut the mustard. This happens from time to time, just like AMDs ATI brand is currently beating the pants off of NVIDIA, but I doubt that will be the case forever.

At the moment intel are very much at the cutting edge and it's working for them, while AMD are playing it relatively safe with incremental advances. The problem with being at the cutting edge is that it has a high level of risk associated with it - remember RAMBUS? AMD will come back with some decent products soon enough and the fanboys can relive the Athlon glory days ;)

As for processor integrated graphics, I think it's a fantastic idea - onboard graphics like those of the i5-661 have reached the point that there really is no point in going for anything better unless you want to play games. Most computers never play anything more demanding than solitaire, so it's not an issue. For the few people who do want to use such a very middle-of-the-road processor like the i5-661 for a gaming rig, the onboard graphics can be disabled without any trouble. For everyone else, it gives decent processor performance with decent graphics capability at a very good price - all intel need to do now is integrate 4gb of RAM and it would be a really decent 'computer on a chip'.

Cheers,

Terry

Guest said:

What kind of cooling system do you use?:D

Guest said:

According to the article, the "Cogage TRUE Spirit heatsink" was used.

My i5-661 reached an easy 4.0 GHz using the stock intel cooler in a rather cramped case with poor airflow. My voltage settings were not as aggressive as the reviewed system.

For a laugh I built up a system using the i5-661, Gigabyte H55N-USB3 (Mini ITX) motherboard and a Radeon HD5970 in a cardboard chassis. Worked a treat :)

Cheers,

Terry

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.