Real Life Testing

Intel Pentium D Extreme Edition 840
The Pentium Extreme Editon

The New Champ On Top: Intel Pentium EE 840

Last week when the dual core embargo was lifted LR brought you the usual processor article on the Intel 840.  Today, we are going to focus on the multi-tasking abilities of the new dual core Smithfield processor versus that of the single core Prescott.  For benchmarking we wanted identical clock speeds, so an Intel 840 was run versus an Intel 640.  Both processors are very similar having EIST, EMT64, 2MB Cache, 800MHz FSB's, and 90nm cores.  The only major things that these two processors don't have in common are price points ($285ish on the 640 and around $1000 for the 840) and the fact that one is dual core.  The following benchmarks should show the advantages of dual core over single core if one is to be seen. 

Over the past week we have had hundreds of e-mails on what to test for multi-tasking and to be honest 99% revolved around gaming and virus scanning.  The other e-mails dealt with watching DVD's, downloading files from the internet, running Folding @ Home, Encoding DVD's, and other multi-tasking situations. 

Software Used:

Test System:

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with multiple applications open. No overclocking was done on the video card during any of this review.

Time to see how dual core works in a multi-tasking environment.

The benchmarks

Test #1

Our first test was by far the most requested benchmark to be requested by our readers.  One unlucky reader talked about being in a CAL match for CS and having his virus scanner start to run mid-game and kill his gaming performance leading to his teams defeat all thanks to the virus scan.  For this test we ran a full scan of Norton and then ran Doom 3 at the same time. 

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: The Intel 640 took a 24% hit in performance when run with the virus scanner enabled, which is a significant difference in performance.  The Intel 840 with Hyper Threading enabled came in only 4% slower, and that isn't a significant performance difference. Dual core easily proves to be the victor here.

Test #2

The second benchmark simply adds listening to MP3's to the mix.  Not everyone wants to listen to the audio in their video games, so they add their own music during the gaming experience.   We keep Norton 2004 running, make our own unique play list, and then get the action going with Doom 3.

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: Interesting results here because the Intel 640 actually improved a bit by adding a third application.  The dual core processors with and without Hyper Threading still prove to be the winner though.

Test #3

The third benchmark used was proposed from a reader who like to watch movies on a second monitor at the same he played games.  For this we ran the movie Training Day on Power DVD 6 and again scanned with Norton and benchmarked Doom 3.

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: Here we see the single core processor taking the biggest hit in performance yet at 30%.  The game play was slow at points as a result of all the applications being run on the Intel 640. The dual core Intel 840 processor took nearly a 10% performance hit in this testing environment.

Benchmarks Continued

Test #4

Our next test is for all those out their working on distributed computing projects around the web.  Legit Reviews has a folding team #38296 to help scientists fight cancer and Alzheimer's through understanding protein folding. If you don't know about F@H read the above link and see if it something you are interested in! Since many run this application 24/7, we ran one instance of folding, Norton 2004 on full scan, and also Doom 3 to get a measure of performance.

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: Really amazing results were seen when Folding @ Home was thrown into the mix.  The Intel 640 choked and a 34% performance hit, for an all time high.  At the same time the Intel 840 took its biggest performance hit of the day at 24%. What was interesting though was the Intel 840 with HT disabled! It hardly took a performance hit. If you are a folder it is clear that you should disable Hyper Threading!

Test #4

Everyone downloads that massive file from the Internet and has to wait for it to download before doing anything else right?  No way!  We threw the virus scan, internet downloading, and Doom 3 at our test bed.  

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: As we have been seeing all review, the Intel 640 takes the biggest performance hit at 15%. The Intel 840 w/ HT comes in at 7%, which is a significant difference.

Test #6

We also got some e-mails asking us to run DVD Shrink as it takes roughly 45-60 minutes to complete, and enthusiasts tend to do other things while waiting to burn that backup disk. 

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: Just like we saw in our F@H testing the Intel 640 and Intel 840 take a large performance hit, while the Intel 840 with HT disabled takes the lead. 

Enough Doom 3 testing!  Time to move on to a quick timed test and then round up all of our thoughts.

Final Thoughts on Multi-Tasking

Test #7

Last but not least we wanted to load up the system with four applications involved in the test.  First, we ripped the song Strong off our demo CD by the local ST. Louis band GreenWheel and placed it on our hard drive.  We then converted it from a .WAV file to an .MP3 file using EZ CD Ripper.  We timed how long it took to convert the song for the benchmark results.  At the same time we ran one instance of folding, Norton 2004, and DVD Shrink encoding the movie Training Day. 

Intel 840 multi-tasking

Results: Running our "control" test all processors were within one second of each other.  The Intel 840 w/ HT enabled was able to beat out the Intel 640 by a couple of seconds.  Again we see the Intel 840 with HT disabled fly by the competition and take the win by more than 11 seconds.

Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:

After testing the Dual Core Intel 840 processor versus the equally clocked Single core Intel 640, it is clear that the dual core processors offer a significant performance improvement when multi-tasking.  Dual core processors are the future of computing and to be honest it does make a noticeable difference when running multiple applications at the same time.  Our thoughts on dual core were only increased after completing the benchmarks used on this article.

Intel at first is going to offer four threads on the Extreme Edition processors, while the Pentium D's are only going to offer a total of two.  We were shocked to find that our Extreme Edition with HT disabled won every multi-tasking test we threw at it. Reader feedback after our initial dual core article questions the performance difference between having 2 and 4 threads, but from the software used in our testing the additional threads only hurt performance although less than a single core processor.

After looking at the above numbers, enthusiasts should be looking forward to the Intel Pentium D 2.8GHz processor as it will be entering the market under $250 US and with a multiplier of 14 it should be another fun processor for overclockers.  Our 3.2GHz processor can hit over 4GHz, so it will be interesting to see what the other processors without HT abilities can do.  Dual core is looking better every day and the days are counting down for the public can buy one! The Intel Pentium 840 Extreme Edition is still on track for being on shelves this month last we heard from Intel!