Mainstream Quad-Core CPU Performance Comparison

By Julio Franco · 51 replies
Sep 11, 2009
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  1. "Please edit it as it creates FUD. a 400$ system for Phenom II with top of the line CPU makes more sense r-query

    Edit : Just a $60 Am2+ Mb in which Am3 based processor will work

    There is plethora of options there why you only included $180 Mb ?"

    My thoughts exactly. There are tons of users with AM2+ Mobo's that will benefit from a mere cpu my friend and I did.
  2. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    If someone was to build a Phenom II X4 965 system today why on god’s green earth would they buy a $60 ASUS M2A74AM motherboard? Okay spend well over $200 on a processor to pair it with a motherboard featuring just 4-SATA ports, a single PCIe x16 port and two DDR2 DIMM slots.

    We are not creating fear, uncertainty and doubt; it’s really just more about common sense.

    The Phenom II X4 965 system was slow enough as it was when compared to the Core i5 750 and now you are saying save $100 on the motherboard to drop a heap of essential features and overclocking performance to make it even slower.

    In the past we have done budget building guides and we have featured processors such as the Phenom II X4 940/940 and paired them with cheap DDR2 motherboards as it makes sense. We are hardly going to suggest buying the AM3 version of these processors at a significant price difference to stick it on an old $60 motherboard.
  3. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    "We are not creating fear, uncertainty and doubt; it’s really just more about common sense."

    That's such a great quote, just insert it in your sig and it may increase a person's IQ by 15 points if they learn to understand it.

    Steve I agree with your argument of why drop your budget on a motherboard 100usd to save money. Its Equivalent to taking cylinders out of a honda accord, or chopping a leg off a 3 legged horse, or cutting the roof off a shack.

    From my experience I'll never purchase a motherboard with less than 6 sata pots. All mine are now full, and not from just hdd/ssd's. My blueray drive has a home there too. I would never suggest spending 400 dollars on a mobo like I have myself to just get 6 sata ports, there are some msi, gigabyte and even cheaper brands that offer you "most for your money" effects and with at least 8 sata ports. That goes for both intel and amd setups.
  4. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,672   +9

    Exactly as you put it Steve. Especially the fact of how important a good mobo is considering system stability for OCing. (The Phenom II is a highly overclockable chip. If you're spending money on it, it's a loss not to OC.)
  5. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    now thats hard to improve on!
  6. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    Haha if only it worked like that :)

    Agreed and thanks for commenting.

    Yes but I am sure my point is flawed, the guest will find a way :) Thanks for the feedback though!
  7. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    Lets gets the responses back to basic standards, the review was meant to show bang for your buck of the most competitive quad core processors that will be mainstream for some time to come. The i5 will eventually replace the core 2 duo/quad(at least the duos at 130usd+ price range). AMD has a competitive mainstream chip, which I'm happy about and it wont cost you 1k usd to put it together. So for goodness sake, lets come with some complimentary post here.
  8. I would not recommend the p55 platform to anyone... Both 790FX and x58 chipsets have enough PCIe Lanes for 2 GPUs (at least 2x16 Lanes PCIe2.0) but noone seems to care (not only here at techspot!) that the new platform only supports 16PCIe Lanes (+4 over the Southbridge=crappy ****) so if you want a second GPU the performance is falling down the stairs (2x8 vs 2x16 lanes). You could say: "I don't want a 2nd GPU either so it's great" .....ehhmmm nope, you see there is only 4GB/s throughput between the southbridge and the CPU so "all the other things" (PhysX card, Sound card, SATA3 Raid controller, Networking, USB, FireWire, Wlan, Bluetooth, DVD, Blu-Ray, Card Reader, TV-tuner or whatsoever) have to share this tiny bandwitch so it can get pretty full pretty fast, for example the x58/Bloomfield(QPI-Link) can communicate with each other at 25,6GByte/s nearly 7x times faster.

    BTW intel shows with its i7-920 how cheap a high-end processor could get (which is way more complex to build/make than Lynnfield i5/i7) and then on the other side those x58 Boards (which production costs are the same as P55 because theres no northbridge at all, but Intel wants them to be expensive) so you can choose: cheap cpu with expensive board or expensive cpu (the pricing of the i7-870 is a joke) and cheap board..... oohh thank god for the almighty Intel :/
  9. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    You have to ask yourself if no one seems to care, is there anything to really care about? All the technical information that you have used to build your case was included in our original LGA1156 platform review so we are obviously well aware of these points.

    First let me address your PCI Express lane concerns. As you said what if you don’t want a second GPU and I think we should start with that since the vast majority of gamers don’t. Then those that do will go for something like the Radeon HD 4870 X2 or GeForce GTX 295 removing the need for a second slot.

    However more importantly have you run a PCI Express x16 graphics card in a PCIe 2.0 port using x8 bandwidth? Given that PCIe 2.0 has twice the bandwidth of PCI 1.0 x8 is essentially x16 so a pair of GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards running SLI using PCIe 2.0 x8 bandwidth should see almost no performance loss.

    Now for your argument about the limited chipset to CPU bandwidth. Yes you only have 4GB/s using the DMI chip-to-chip interconnect but how do you think past chipsets have worked? Only the X58 features QPI and that is only required because the PCI lanes are in the chipset and not the CPU.

    You confused me with your statement about 4GB/s being a tiny bandwidth for devices such as (PhysX card, Sound card, SATA3 Raid controller, Networking, USB, FireWire, Wlan, Bluetooth, DVD, Blu-Ray, Card Reader, TV-tuner or whatsoever). Let’s assume for a second that real live people use add-in PhysX cards which they don’t, most of them are PCI and the same goes for sound cards limiting them to a little over 100MB/s of shared bandwidth.

    Let’s do the math’s based on your examples shall we. PhysX card = 100MB/s, Sound card = 100MB/s (not even close but I will be generous), Networking = 100MB/s (if you are lucky which you won’t be), USB/ FireWire = 20 – 30MB/s per device, DVD/Blu-Ray = not a lot. Then you have the SATA3 Raid controller that you mentioned. Now if you are going to spend hundreds of dollars on an add-in RAID card then it stands to reason you are not after a P55 motherboard in the first place…

    So when all is said and done the most bandwidth demanding devices you have is a Gigabit Ethernet controller using just under 100MB/s and a 6-port SATA controller which when loaded with normal hard drives wouldn’t even use 500MB/s if all drives were going berserk at the same time. Therefore by my modest calculations I estimate that the average user would be able to consume about a quarter of the available memory bandwidth.

    On a final note you were right about the Core i7 870 processor, the pricing is a joke :)
  10. I must admit my arguments were a bit exaggerated, but my concern come as I'm up to buying me a new rig so I read a lot about pros and cons of different platforms. The first thing I thought of seeing the new ASUS boards: "ohh, great! those look awesome! triple SLi and 24!!! hybrid power phases " and then after a few minutes: "wait, theres no triple Sli?" as you said i wouldn't propably ever use it, but then why 3 PCIex16 slots? I think every average user would think it supports 3 Graphic cards.
    As I started to build up my new PC (in my mind) I thought of having double GTX275/1,7G as they supports 3D gaming (I saw it at the gamescom in cologne and i think it's really great) and 24" 3D display (which should be coming this fall/winter) so this could be a great setup to play at FullHD-3D, but then I saw this Crysis Warhead benchmark of the new HD5870 (AMD claims it being 50% faster than a GTX285 = must have) + a comparsion of running graphics at 2x8 lanes and 2x16 lanes (i think it was on where the performance boost on lynnfield was smaller then bloomfields by about 10% a little overclock will do i thought, but then would it really do having a Radeon HD5870 and then maybe a second one in a year or two?

    Even if it isn't an issue at this point, it could be in two years... and if I spend over two grands on a PC I surely want that it lasts High-End or at least mainstream as long as possible.....

    btw I would never buy a HD4870x2 cause its way too loud neither the GTX295 because it has only 896MB vram per chip which is no good running high-res(downscaling) +/or hybrid aa

    Next, the DMI... the first thing: I thought the DMI is for everything BUT ram and gpu(s) so PCI slots are affected the same way PCIe slots are, but even then it would be hard enough to clog it, but one more time i am not interested in the past but future and i think (in 2 years or so) having 2 SSDs cracking up 2GB/s+, 10Gbit LAN, multiple USB3.0 devices and HDTV running at the same time isn't that far from plausible...

    You're propably right too if you say i'm not after a P55, but as we both know Intel has no interest in selling the 250$ i7-920 longer than December making the x58 platform exclusive for enthusiasts. With their new i7-960 which will have a hefty price tag it isn't affordable anymore and what if I don't get the cash before the end of the year or if I want to make an upgrade by sometime?

    My PC is already 8 years old (xp3200+,2GB ddr400,GF FX5900) so i want the new one to last at least the same (no i'm not having bad time owning all the consoles^^) so i really have hard time deciding which platform i should take this time Lynnfield, Bloomfield or maybe even Deneb...

    And now to you "Steve" I really do think you're making great job answering all the posts, response to my first one came already in 20 minutes after I wrote it, impressive.

    PS: this shouldn't get this long ;)
  11. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    I see what you are saying but let me address a few of your concerns/questions.

    Triple SLI is a waste of time and money, the performance boost you get from the third graphics card is pathetic. This technology is only for the rich and has no place in a build with any kind of realistic budget.

    When talking about heat and operating volume the GeForce GTX 295 is no worse than a pair of GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards and in a lot of ways it is better. If you are concerned with volume upgrade the cooler, there are now a few options available. That said I see no reason why most gamers would not be more than happy with a single GeForce GTX 285, its bloody fast, or at least it has been over the past year or so.

    As for your argument of wanting to add another graphics card down the track such as another Radeon HD 5870, that just never goes to plan. Everyone thinks “hey that’s great I can add another graphics card to boost performance when this one becomes to slow” but the problem is by the time this happens there will be a new single card that will slay a pair of your current graphics cards.

    Again SLI and Crossfire are in no sense designed to save you money or make things easier down the track. They are for extreme high-end systems where users want every last bit of performance no matter the cost.

    It is going to be a long time before you can buy an SSD capable of even 1GB/s for less than what you paid for your car and when are you expecting 10Gbit LAN? Furthermore how are you going to get 10Gbit LAN and USB 3.0 out of your X58 motherboard that clearly doesn’t support it anyway? Expensive add in cards down the track, it would just be cheaper to buy a new motherboard.

    The simple fact is computers no matter how grand you make them do not last 8 years in the gaming industry. At best you will have it last 3-4 years without an upgrade but even then a 3 year old graphics card is not something you want to be caught gaming with.

    It sounds like to me you are going about your situation all wrong (no offence). Those that can only afford or justify a major upgrade once a decade should be building a system from our budget guides. A budget system that you upgrade once every 2 years will serve you much better than a high-end system you upgrade once every 5-8 years.

    Anyway food for thought… ohh and you should really look at signing up for the TechSpot forums, its a great place to get help and even ideas about new computer builds.
  12. pmkrefeld

    pmkrefeld TS Member Posts: 44


    As you can see my PC is really old, past years I was using consoles only cause they're cheaper... therefore I don't have any real-life experience with up to date hardware, everything I know is what I read on sities like this one. As i'm going to spend a lot of money on my new setup, I think my concerns are justified seeing benchmarks with today top of the line 300$ cards going under 20fps in crysis (or stalker) all over the internet, (or better nVidia claiming the 8400gs to be a great card for DX10 gaming) I also had the opportunity to play Warhead on the new Fujitsu Celcius Ultra and even there frames were going down to 25fps from time to time, so I'm thinking of Sli/Crossfire as of the only possibility to play future games havin smooth framerates... I'm propably over reacting again, but you have to admit that it's really hard to trust manufacturers and believe their claims about their hardware.....

    One more time, thanks for the feedback
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    Crysis is an extreme and rare case, that said the game looks very good and can be enjoyed using medium quality settings. Other new games and those upcoming such as Modern Warfare 2 will play extremely well on a GeForce GTX 285. In fact despite having every latest graphics card at my disposal I only use a GeForce GTX 275 as it is capable of playing the latest games in all their glory with Crysis being the exception.

    If you would like to discuss graphics card performance more check out this section of the forums...
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    Hi Steve,
    I need to add a note on this. I agree that CrossfireX is not for everyone, it is much more driver dependent for its performance than a single card, however, I have put together crossfire machines for others, and for myself with 3x HD 4850's and at a $200 savings over a GTX 295. I am also getting better frame rates in Crysis/Warhead on very high/Enthusiast settings than I have seen with a GTX 295 setup.(i posted my FPS in my budget build guide in the guides area if your interested) if done correctly, and again its not for everyone, it can fit a need and do very well performance wise.If not for DX11 emerging,(I'm one that has to have it) :) I believe that my configuration would easily perform through the next gen of games.
    anyway, just wanted to get that in there. you don't seem to chime in on the comment side to terribly often, but when you do its always insightful. keep up the great reviews :)
  15. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,679   +759

    Excellent article, especially with the Q6600 marks added (which made a respectable showing). Think I'll hang on to my mildly o/c'd Q9550 for a while longer. :)
  16. "We are hardly going to suggest buying the AM3 version of these processors at a significant price difference to stick it on an old $60 motherboard."

    To each his own. I would hardly suggest paying $300 on a new AM3 motherboard and DDR3 when you have a perfectly capable AM2+ mobo and 1066 DDR2 already. Just doesn't make sense unless you have lots of $$ to spend.. in that case go with Intel. BTY I happen to have a Gigabyte GA-MA790FX board..which is a well optioned mobo. No offence or anything. Techspots rocks. Usually your articles are excellent.
  17. aaron86

    aaron86 TS Rookie

    Steve: I do agree that the new core i5 are very interesting, but I think you dismiss the AMD offerings to fast. I just bought a Phenom II 945 for 160 and paired it with a 60 dollar AM2+ Gigabyte MB that I got 7 months ago. The processor is great and the MB is solid. You dismissed 60 dollar MB's earlier because they usually only have 1 PCI Express slot, but so what? I thought this article was for "mainstream." If that includes people who shell out for dual graphics cards then I have a completely different definition of the word.
    Also the new Phenom II 945 that I got reduced the TDP from 125 to 95W, so that should help in the way of power consumption.
    Now you say that someone lacks common sense because they use an AM3 CPU in an AM2+ board. Can I ask you though, lets say someone somehow is using the same CPU, GPU, and RAM in both an AM2+ board and an AM3 board. Other than extreme overclocking, would there really be any difference in performance? I stuck with AM2+ because the MB are a LOT cheaper and at the time I didn't think the price difference between DDR2 and DDR3 was worth it (I got 4GB of DDR2 for 20 dollars after rebates while 4GB of DDR3 was > 100 at the time). Thanks for the article.
  18. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    You are comparing apples to oranges I think. The cheapest you can get a 790FX motherboard of any sort is $130 - $140. The AM3 boards that we suggested were just $40 US more, that is hardly going to break the bank and it allows you to jump on the latest platform. I would much prefer to recommend someone spends a little more to invest in the latest platform that will likely provide them with a better upgrade solution in the future.

    As for the memory we price the same stuff for both the LGA1156 and AM3 platform and it was for quality memory. However you can buy crummy 4GB DDR2 and DDR3 memory kits for $40 - $50 so these days you are not really saving by going for DDR2 memory. Furthermore perfectly capable DDR2-1066 kits start at $65, just $15 more than the DDR3 memory we were recommending anyway.

    Hi aaron86, I have spent the last month doing nothing but testing the Core i5 750 against the latest Phenom II X4 processors and trust me I am dismissing nothing fast.

    That is great that you were able to buy a Phenom II X4 945 for $160, it’s a nice processor and with a $60 motherboard it will get the job done. In fact I have built similar systems for friends on tight budgets but for those looking to spend a little more I often advise they get a much better motherboard as I believe it is the last component you should skimp on.

    I believe you are taking my issues with SLI out of context here, let me explain. I did not dismiss the cheap motherboard simply because it lacked a second PCI Express x16 slot. I recommended gamers and the like avoid them as they are “cheap” you get what you pay for. These boards lack SATA ports, many of the do not offer RAID, there is no Firewire, cheap onboard Audio, often poor overclocking and in many cases just two DIMM slots.

    Of course if none of that bothers you then sure save the money but we are not going to assume that our readers do not want all these things. Furthermore how can we compare a full stocked P55 motherboard that has every single feature you could possibly want to a lemon?

    “Now you say that someone lacks common sense because they use an AM3 CPU in an AM2+ board. Can I ask you though, lets say someone somehow is using the same CPU, GPU, and RAM in both an AM2+ board and an AM3 board. Other than extreme overclocking, would there really be any difference in performance?”

    If you read our past AM3 processor reviews you will see that we strongly recommended using these processors on AM2 boards with DDR2 memory. This was because the AM3 platform only offers a slight performance advantage and at the time the boards and DDR3 memory was fetching quite a high price premium. However today that is no longer the case and with the AM3 platform and DDR3 being the way of the future why not invest now and save yourself money in the future?

    At the end of the day we could have used a low-end budget motherboard with our $250 Phenom II X4 965 processor and we could have saved $20 on memory and when all is said and done the total build would be about $400.

    So here is my new conclusion then, buy the Phenom II X4 965 with a cheap and nasty motherboard and DDR2 memory for $30 less than the faster significantly more efficient Core i5 750 with a high-end feature rich motherboard and DDR3 memory, you can’t go wrong. – (*Not necessarily the opinion of TechSpot).

    On a side note you do not want to see how the Phenom II X4 945 compares to the Core i7 750, it gets absolutely destroyed. So if you were to build today saving even over $100 by going with the Phenom II X4 945 would not be worth it in my opinion unless you were looking for the cheapest possible build in which case why even by a quad-core processor in the first place?

    I should also mention that I initially hated the LGA1156 platform and I hated even the very idea of it. Why does Intel need two platforms I keep saying? But now that I have seen the madness behind it the end result makes much more sense. The Core i5 750 is an impressive processor and I have found it to be clock for clock exactly the same as the Core i7 870 in almost every test.
  19. Over at anandtech their Far Cry 2 bench is very different to this, there the Phenom II x4 wins the FPS race.. the same holds true in H.A.W.X. So, from a gamers point of view, which results should I trust?
  20. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

  21. spikester48661

    spikester48661 TS Enthusiast Posts: 101

    for me AMD is the way to,s CPU are good but for the $$$ and mobos its not for me. its a good post all to see.
  22. Re. the chart on the first page of the article.
    I believe the Max TDP on the i7 920 is 130W vs. 95W.


  23. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,835   +1,951

    Not sure where you are looking still but it doesn't matter, you cannot cross compare results using different hardware.

    Why are you now randomly quoting TDP ratings that are given by the manufacture? When it comes to power consumption the Intel processors are much lower and much more efficient if you were trying to argue the point!??!!
  24. Sorry Steve.. I should have been more precise. The Anandtech artickle I tried to referre to is this one on the Farcry 2 bench results:
  25. I think you should have mentioned, due to Intel's new roadmap, the i7 920 is proably going the way of the dodo.

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