RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.11.08]
Manufactured by: Intel


The Test

We will be focusing on sub-$200 processors in this review. So while Intel actually has an E8600 now, and even an E6850, we will be passing them by this time around. I did include the quad-core Q6600 this time, because it is roughly the same price as the E8500. So by the end of this article, we will hopefully answer the question of whether it is better to get a slower quad-core CPU based on slightly older architecture, or a brand-new dual core for the same price. We'll be looking at Phenom X4 (and possibly X3, I haven't decided yet) at a later time. We have to purchase all our AMD processors at retail, so I don't want to end up getting their top-end chip only to have it be replaced a few days later (so believe me, I know what it's like to be a CPU customer as well as a reviewer!).

So in this review, we will be including the E8500, E6750, Q6600, and X2 6400+. These are all around $180-190, with the AMD in the $150 range.

The Specs

Intel Motherboard: Abit IP35 Pro (Intel P35 Express / ICH9R chipset) - reviewed here
AMD Motherboard: Abit A-N78HD (Nvidia GeForce 8300 chipset) - review coming soon

Memory: 2GB OCZ PC2 6400 SOE Urban Elite 4-4-3-15 (reviewed here)
Video Card: GeForce 7950GT 512MB (reviewed here)
Audio: Disabled
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB

OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32 bit SP1
Video Card Drivers: ForceWare 179.15
Intel Chipset Drivers:
Nvidia Chipset Drivers: 18.11

BIOS Settings: Strict clock timings enforced (no "Auto" settings), DDR2-800, 4-4-3-15 timings, AHCI enabled, all integrated peripherals disabled.

All our reviews are "powered by" Thermaltake, who provide us with power supplies for testing.

SiSoft Sandra 2009

As always, we'll start off with some theoretical benchmarks courtesy of SiSoft Sandra. SiSoft have just released version 2009, so that's what we'll be using. 2009 introduces a couple of new tests that benchmark a CPU's performance in cryptography and hashing.

First up are the 'pure math' benchmarks which test a CPU's performance in integer and floating point calculations. Both of these tests are highly threaded, so naturally the quad-core pulls ahead. Just wait for the more practical tests before considering the Q6600's numbers.

What is most interesting is the floating-point performance of the Wolfdale processor (that is the Whetstone test). The E8500 holds a 18.8% clock speed advantage over the E6750 (along with more cache and higher FSB) but its Whetstone score is 39.2% higher. This test uses SSE3, so we can't attribute the performance increase to the new instructions. It most likely has to do with the new Fast Radix-16 Divider that is implemented in the Penryn core.

Next up are the Multimedia tests, which introduce the use of instruction sets (in the case of the Integer benchmark, E8500 is allowed to use SSE4, while the other Intel chips are using SSE3, and the Athlon 64 is using SSE2, which for it performs better than SSE3 in this test). Again, we are seeing scores higher than the clock speed increase, but not quite as much this time.

Finally, we have some cryptography and hashing benchmarks that, while not totally important in day-to-day use for most people, is still significant. In the 256-bit AES test, scores are directly related to clock speed. In the 256-bit hashing benchmark we see similar results, except the Athlon64 X2 excels for some reason.

Next Page: (System Performance: PCMark Vantage)