Let Me Introduce The New King Of The Hill: Conroe

Let me start off my saying that AMD has been the processor to have for gamers and enthusiasts over the past couple of years without a doubt. When Intel launched the Prescott core you could literally feel the breeze caused by consumers going from the Intel fan boy camp to the AMD side. The Intel Prescott faimly of processors were leaky and I even published an article examining Prescott temperatures nearly three years ago explaining why the core temperatures were high. From the time the original Prescott core was launched till the end of it?s life the updates that Intel made to the core were nothing less than amazing. The initial Prescott processor that I reviewed back in 2004 was nothing like their last major update of the Prescott core one year to the month later in 2005.  By adding more L2 cache, support for Enhanced Memory 64 Technology (EM64T), Execute Disable Bit, and the combination of EIST (Enhanced Intel Speedstep Technology), C1E (Enhanced Halt State), and TM2 (Thermal Monitor 2) the updated Prescott was finally looking like a production processor from Intel. The only problem was the fact that a year went by and since enthusiasts upgrade more than once yearly this was not a good move for Intel. While Intel was busy updating their desktop processor lines, AMD was busy playing catch up and consumers were jumping ship.

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor

Early this decade Intel had the performance lead and Intel processors came at a price premium as a result. Thanks to this AMD was kept alive early on by pricing their mainstream Athlon XP processors at near $100 and their market consisted mainly of dedicated enthusiasts and gamers looking for performance on a budget. I was one of those consumers back in the day and found that the first Athlon XP processors allowed great overclocking by having unlocked multipliers (RIP my beloved Athlon XP AGOIA stepping 1600+). Those are the days when VIA KT333 chipsets were the chipset to have and having 80mm delta screamers were the "in" thing. When AMD moved over to the Athlon 64 series they placed the memory controller on the processor itself and their new core turned out to be faster than Intel?s processors in a number of benchmarking scenarios, especially when it came to gaming performance. AMD saw what their main consumer group was doing with their processors and answered with a knock out blow at a time when Intel was promoting a leaky processor that came at a higher price. AMD Athlon 64 processors was crowned the CPU to have when it came to gaming computers and consumers were willing to pay whatever the price to have one.

The next race for both processor companies was marathon race to have dual-core processors. Intel won the race by bolting two Prescott processors together, which to this day leaves us wondering if it was worth it, but that is water under the bridge now. AMD came out with their dual-core processors dubed X2's a little later and once again had the performance to roll over Intel?s dual-core processors. AMD was able to take over the market lead for processor sales and the days of cheap AMD processors with unlocked multipliers across the board were long gone. AMD was now the lean mean fighting machine in green and was starting to give Intel a taste of what it feels like to be second in the processor market.

When you spent time at the top and have tasted victory it leaves a bitter sweet taste in your mouth. It's that sweet taste left in your mouth that you want back and the folks at Intel have just started to get their spot on top of the mountain back. Just this week Intel took the crown from AMD for being the number one processor in U.S. retail market for June and that's with the current processor lineup! 

Today, Intel is introducing their next generation processor codenamed Conroe. This processor has had the most hype that I have ever seen and honeslty I jump right out and say that it doesn't fail to impress.  Sit back and grab a pint or a tea and examine what just might be the next processor in your computer system.

Getting To Know Conroe

Built on the innovative Intel Core Duo micro architecture, the 65nm Intel Core 2 Duo desktop processor is set to deliver more performance and better energy efficiency than any other processor that Intel has in their lineup. The Intel Core Microarchitecture brings new features like Intel Wide Dynamic Execution, Intel Smart Memory Access, Intel Advanced Smart Cache and Intel Digital Media Boost to consumers. Since these features are mostly new marketing terms for us, let's take a closer look at what they mean.

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The new Core 2 Duo processors have a number of additional features to support enhanced security, virtualization and 64-bit computing. Energy Efficiency Design changes in the Intel Core 2 Duo processors that improve performance also increase processor energy efficiency by operating at lower frequencies that require less power to run. A new feature, Intel Intelligent Power Capability, optimizes energy usage of the processor cores by turning on computing functions only when needed. These more energy-efficient processors support smaller, more capable, and quieter desktop PCs to conserve critical power resources.

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PC users are running multiple, intense software applications simultaneously, increasing demand on hardware resources. In the office, PC usage has changed from data entry and word processing to e-Commerce, online collaboration and an ever-increasing need for continual security and virus protection. In the home, interests have shifted from low-bandwidth photos and Internet surfing to downloading and viewing high definition videos, as well as advanced photo and video editing. The Intel Core2 Duo processor was developed to meet all these demands.

Here is a picture of the Conroe Die up close and personal!

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Now that we understand what Conroe is let's take a look at pricing.

Conroe Pricing

Five Intel Conroe parts will ship initially: the E6300, E6400, E6600, E6700, and X6800. All of these parts follow Intel's new processor numbering scheme, introduced when the Core Duo mobile processor family arrived earlier this year. The five dual-core Conroe processors are clocked at 1.86, 2.13, 2.40, 2.67GHz and 2.93GHz, respectively, run on a 1066MHz front side bus and contain either 2MB or 4MB of cache shared between the two cores.

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor

The 'E' in the naming scheme indicates a power envelope of 50W or more (just like the mobile Core Duo's 'T', indicating a maximum power consumption of 24-49W). The 'X' in the naming scheme stands for the processor being the top of the line Extreme Edition model. Unlike the mobile Core Duo and Core Solo, the desktop chips have naming scheme distinction between the number of cores. The number of cores in the Core T2300 and Core T1300 is indicated by first number after the 'T' - that's not the case with Conroe, though 'Merom', its mobile counterpart, will make such a distinction. This will make more sense if and when Intel will launch the rumored part called Core E4200, which might be a single-core Conroe-based part clocked at 1.6GHz and supporting an 800MHz FSB.

Intel has priced their Conroe Processors right where we are used to seeing their prices start at so if you can handle the old Pentium D prices then this chart will not be a shocker to anyone.

Processor
GHz
FSB
Cache
Package
July 23rd Price
X6800 2.93GHz 1066MHz 4M LGA775 $999
E6700 2.67GHz 1066MHz 4M LGA775 $530
E6600 2.4GHz 1066MHz 4M LGA775 $316
E6400 2.13GHz 1066MHz 2M LGA775 $224
E6300 1.86GHz 1066MHz 2M LGA775 $183
945 3.4GHz 800MHz 2x2M LGA775 $163
915 2.8GHz 800MHz 2x2M LGA775 $133
820 2.8GHz 800MHz 2x1M LGA775 $113
805 2.66Ghz 533MHz 2x1M LGA775 $93
 

Now that we know what the upcoming prices will be let's take a look at our test system.

The Test System

The Conroe Test Bench

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 no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode! The memory on the Intel and AMD test platforms with DDR2 memory was run with Corsair PC2-6400C3 memory running 4GB at 3-4-3-9 2T timings at 800MHz. The memory on the AMD DDR1 motherboard was running 2GB at 400MHz with 2-3-2-6 timings.  The ATI X1900XTX video card used CATALYST 6.6 public drivers.

Here is the AMD Scoket 939 Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60/4800+

Motherboard

ASUS AN832-SLI Deluexe

Memory

Corsair PC-3200

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

Thermaltake 750W

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the AMD Scoket AM2 Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

AMD Athlon 64 FX-62/5000+

Motherboard

ASUS AN832-SLI Deluexe

Memory

Corsair PC2-6400C3

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

Thermaltake 750W

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the Intel Test Platform:

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Pentium 965

Motherboard

Intel D975XBX v304

Memory

Corsair PC2-6400C3

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

Thermaltake 750W

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Let's move on and take a look at the testing!

World Bench 5 Testing

PC World; WorldBench 5.0

WorldBench 5 runs on PCs using the Home, Professional, Media Center, and Tablet PC versions of Windows XP. Fifteen applications (counting the components of Office XP), make up the WorldBench 5 suite.

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Despite being composed of mainly single threaded tests, WorldBench 5 shows the Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 out in the lead with a massive score of 161! Let's take a closer look at the individual tests.

ACD Systems; ACDSee PowerPack 5.0:

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Discreet 3ds Max 5.1 (DirectX):

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Discreet 3ds Max 5.1 (OpenGL):

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Adobe Photoshop 7:

PC World World Bench 5 Results

So far, we can see that the Intel Core 2 Duo is just plain cleaning up in our Worldbench tests.  The AMD cpus do not even come close to the E6700 let alone the X6800.  What has Intel done!  Let's check out some more Worldbench results.

WorldBench 5 Continued

Adobe; Premiere 6.5:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Firefox; Mozilla 1.4:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

MusicMatch Jukebox 7.1:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Nero Express 6:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Multitasking; Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

The X6800 and E6700 once again are showing amazing results in our testing.  The AMD cpus come close in Nero, but that is all.  Nothing from AMD can even come close to catching these two bad boys in any of the other tests.  It is nothing short of amazing to see Intel dominate so clearly.

WorldBench 5 Continued Again

Microsoft Office XP with SP-2

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1

WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1

To put it short and sweet, same song, different tests.  The Intel Core 2 Duo is just absolutely dominating the Worldbench Suite like we have never seen.  There is not one test that it trails in, and in fact, it leads by quite a large margin on everything that we see here.  Let's move on to some other benchmarks and see if the Core 2 Duo can keep up the pace.

Sisoft; Sandra 2007

Sisoft; Sandra 2007:

SiSoftware, founded in 1995, is one of the leading providers of computer analysis, diagnostic and benchmarking software. The flagship product, known as "SANDRA", was launched in 1997 and has become one of the most widely used products in its field. SANDRA is used by almost 400 world-wide IT publications, magazines, review sites to analyse the performance of today?s computers.

Multi-Core Support: As well as SMP (multi-processor) and SMT (multi-threading/Hyper-Threading) support we have added multi-core support for future AMD and Intel CPUs. The benchmarks have been optimised to schedule the optimum number of threads on the optimum (virtual) CPU on both multi-core and Hyper-Threaded computers.

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Talk about your sick scores!  Those X6800 scores are just incredible!  Even the E6700 does not come close to mathing its big brother here, though it does come in second, leading the FX-62, 5000+ and the 965EE respectively.

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Our Memory badwidth results should be no surprise.  The the memory controllor on the AMD chip, it continues to show its muscle here.  It is interesting to see that the 965EE scores better than both the X6800 and E6700 in Sandras bandwidth bench.

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In Sandra's Multimedia test, we see another huge gulf in the results between the new Core 2 Duo chips and the rest of the pack.  The 965EE comes in a distant third, with the two AMD chips following even further behind.

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a

Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a:

The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is an high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file, and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.

The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which in a nutshell allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 as all of the processors we are testing today are dual-core.

Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13

The pixel rate counter (PPS) in POV-Ray is based off of the number of pixels rendered in the current frame divided by the total amount of time spent on the whole animation. This gives the effect of dividing the true pixels per second by the current frame number. With POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a we are able to look at a recent SMP benchmark to judge the differences between AMD and Intel dual-core processors. The benchmark shows that the Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X6800 is over three times faster than the previous generation Intel Extreme Edition processor. The old Pressler core is no match for Conroe in this benchmark! In a benchmark that AMD used to own it is now getting beat.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13

Looking at the overall render score the winner is clear by a long shot.  The Intel Core 2 Extreme processor X6800 is able to render all of the pixels in the animation nearly twice as fast as the AMD AM2 5000+ and FX62 processors. The $530 Intel Core 2 Duo processor comes in second beating out the $1000 AMD FX-62 processor.

Super Pi and ScienceMark 2.0

Super Pi Mod Version 1.5 XS:

Super Pi calculates the number Pi in this raw number crunching benchmark. The benchmark is fairly diverse and allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated. In this benchmark we ran Super Pi to 1 million places, 4 million places, and 32 million places.

Probably some of the most jaw-dropping results that we saw with the Core 2 Duo benchmarks happened to be in the Super PI tests.  As you know, one of the big challenges between enthusiasts is to get the lowest SuperPi times possible.  Many have used extreme means (read: cooling, like water, Dry Ice and Phase Change) to do this.  As you can see in the results, the Core 2 Duo just blows everything else out of the water.  In the 1M places bench, the X6800 comes in at just over 17 seconds.  This is incredible!  What makes it even more incredible is that this is a little over 41% faster than the fastest AMD CPU is able to do!  We see similiar results in the 4M and 32M tests as well, where the X6800 continues to lead the pack, with nothing from AMD even coming close!

ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark 2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. For the Memory Testing, higher numbers represent better performance. On the remaining tests, lower seconds represent better performance.

Primordia "calculates the Quantum Mechanical Hartree-Fock Orbitals for each electron in any element of the periodic table." We ran the benchmark on default using Argon as our element.


As you can see, our Sciencemark results show a very similiar trend.  Cipher and the Molecular Dynamics are led by the X6800 Core 2 Duo, followed by our AMD chips, the FX-62 and the 5000+.  The E6700 is a close third in these two tests, but does beat out the 5000+ to take the third place crown in Primordia.  Bottom line: the Core 2 Duo X6800 once again proves to be the hands down winner, finishing well ahead of the AMD offerings that we are using here., as well as clearing leaving the Intel 965EE in the dust.

CineBench 2003

MAXON; CINEBENCH 2003:

CINEBENCH 2003 is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D R8. The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

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Our Cinebench results show again how the X6800 just reigns supreme over anything green (meaning AMD), completing our benchmarks at a 39% faster pace in single CPU bench and 38% in the SMP results.  The E6700 also has a strong showing here, but certainly its performance is dwarfed by its big brother, the X6800.  Funny thing is, the E6700 would certainly have caused quite an excitement on its own when compared to what we see in our FX-62 and 5000+ cpus.

Futuremark 3DMark06

3DMark 2006 v1.2.0

3DMark06 includes an array of 3D graphics, CPU and 3D feature tests for overall performance measurement of current and future PC gaming systems. With this broader design approach, 3DMark06 has become the benchmark of choice for all PCs with top-of-the-line graphics hardware and CPUs. 3DMark06 is the first product from Futuremark using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library in two very complex, game-like threaded CPU tests conceived to measure properly performances of single processor, multi-core and multiple processor systems in next generation of games. In addition to using real-time physics, both CPU tests also employ multi-threaded artificial intelligence algorithms. By combining the results of the two CPU tests and four graphics tests, 3DMark06 enables users to get a 3DMark score which reflects the overall gaming performance of their PC

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The two Core 2 Duo chips also do very well for themselves in  our 3dMark 2006 results, as they take the two top sopts in both the overall and CPU scores.  A 300 point lead for the X6800 over the FX-62 in the overall benchmark test means that the top spots at the ORB will now be filled with Core 2 Duo results.  We have been so used to seeing AMD take the lead in these tests, that is almost seems wrong to say that the best they can do with their FX-62 is third place among these 5 cpus being tested. 

Comanche 4 and Quake 4

NovaLogic; Comanche 4:

The Comanche 4 benchmark demo is a unique benchmark as it represents a real-world gaming experience. It contains the single player Eagle's Talon mission from the game as well as a detailed cinematic. This DirectX 8.1 benchmark demo measures your system's performance in the standard frames per second format. This game is very old, but even today it's one of the best gaming benchmark to show raw CPU performance.

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As we look at our gaming results, we need to remember that all of the cpus that we tested have more than enough power to run any of todays games at very playable and eye-pleasing settings. But as well look at them, it is hard not to see the facts that are before us: Core 2 Duo is to the gamer in 2006 what the A64 was to the gamer at its release.  There was a WOW! factor that many said could never be duplicated, but we are here to say that it has not only been duplicated, but surpassed with the Core 2 Duo. 

Here in the Comanche 4 test, we see what we have seen in every other test, in that the Core 2 Duo takes the top spots.  The E6700 trails its big brother by 12 fps, but leads the FX-62 by 11fps.  The Intel 965EE follows everyone else, as we have seen in all the results so far.

ID Software; Quake 4 v1.2

ID Software?s QUAKE 4, developed by Raven Software, takes players into an epic invasion on a barbaric alien planet in one of the most anticipated first person shooters for 2005. Even today in 2006 Quake 4 is played by professional gamers around the world in the fames World Series of Video Games (WSVG) and still one of the most played first person shooters on the market today.

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As we change resolutions in Quake 4, we really do not see much difference in the fps that we are able to acheive with each cpu.  With that in mind, we see that each resolution provides the same results, in that the Core 2 Duo chips lead, with the X6800 on top of course, the FX-62 and 5000+ come in behind them, but before the 965EE.  Certainly, the Core 2 Duo is going to be the chip that gamers want in their box!

F.E.A.R. and Far Cry

Sierra; F.E.A.R w/ v1.0.2 patch:

F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault and Recon) is a first-person close-quarters combat game for the PC. The story begins when a paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound, and the government responds by sending in Special Forces. The group loses contact with the government when an eerie signal interrupts radio communications--and when that interference subsides moments later, the team has been destroyed. That's where you come in. As part of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else can handle, your mission is simple: eliminate the intruders at any cost, determine the origin of the signal, and contain the potential crisis before it gets out of control.

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Unlike  our Quake 4 results, our F.E.A.R. results show us that our scores are affected by the changes in resolution.  By while each cpu's scores are affected, the outcomes of how each cpu did against the others remained the same as the X6800 took top honors, followed by the E6700, the FX-62, 5000+, and bringing up the rear is the 965EE.  This was the scenario at each resolution. 

Ubisoft; Far Cry v1.33

Far Cry is another super popular FPS title that seriously taxes your systems graphics. We used the HardwareOC Far Cry Benchmark v1.4.2 to benchmark the game and ran Ubisoft Regulator demo three times and averaged the score to get the results for the chart below.

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Our Far Cry results also show ua just how powerful these Core 2 Duo cpus are.  Even the "lowly" E6700 comes in at 23-30 fps faster that the closest AMD cpu.  Of course the X6800 fairs even better with an amazing lead averaging 34fps over the FX-62.  Once again, our scores did not vary too much with changes in resolution, but the results are consistant at each resolution.

Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds.  Both systems ran with the same memory, power supplies, case fan, video card and hard drive model.  TO measure idle usage we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement. For our 'load' readings we ran the system under partial load by running a custom video game demo on all of the processors. This simulates real world use as the majority of our readers play video games.

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When it came to idle power consumption I thought I did something wrong when both the Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X6800 and the Intel Core 2 Duo processor E67000 both used 128 Watts. It was then that I remembered that both processors lower down to a multiplier of 6 when at idle and run at the same voltage at these idle state.  Intel was able to get a healty performance increase with Conroe and was able to do so using 22W less power at idle when compared to their Pressler core.  The AMD FX-62 used 20W more power than the Conroe, so AMD can no longer say they have more energy efficient processors. 

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Under load the Intel X6700 uses the least amount of power followed by the faster clocked Intel X6800 and then the Intel 965 Extreme Edition processors. The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ AM2 processor and the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 came in the rear using the most power of the bunch.  The AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 with it's Windsor core consumed a healthy 314W of energy while running the first test of 3DMark06. From our testing the flagship AMD processor consumes roughly 45W more power than the fastest Intel dual-core processor, the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor X6800.  Not only does the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor X6800 beat the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 on nearly every single benchmark we ran it also consumes less energy!

What does 45W at idle mean to you? Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours and the current charge for electricity varies from state to state.  Since pricing varies from state to state and during seasons let's just use $0.15 per kilowatt-hour for pricing to figure up some rough numbers.

X6800 VS FX-62 Cost Saving Estimates:

Since I keep my computer on nearly 24 hours a day and fold 24/7 on it for the Legit Folding Team (Team #38296) I would save roughly ~$60 per year by running an X6800 versus the FX-62.  This is a change is big enough to notice in your utility bill!

**TIP** If you are interested in saving even more money every month try switching to an Active PFC power supply!

Overclocking Conroe

As many of you know Intel has launched numerous stepings of Conroe over the past several months and the most recent is the B2 stepping.  All of the reviews that have gone up today are all based on B1 steppings.  While the performance difference between B1 and B2 steppings is less than 1 percent I don't think it's fair to go into an in-depth overclocking section as we do not have the stepping that will be available to the public.

Legit Reviews has three Intel Conroe processors; E6600, E6700 and the X6800.  Our E6600 was an early sample and was based off the fourth stepping of the processor and was a B0 revision so it wasn't used in the review.  It wasn't a great overclocker and was an early stepping so it wasn't included in our performance testing.  Since some are wondering what other processors can do we included it here for you to check out. We tried every voltage combination possible, even going up to 1.6V, and this is the best that we could do.

  Here is the hightest overclock on out Intel Core 2 Duo processor E6600:

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Next up is the Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor, which is a stepping 5 revision B1 processor.  This is the processor that was sent to all the review sites.  It was able to do much better than the previous stepping 4 processors!

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The last processor we have to overclock for you would be our Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor.  With a 5th generation steping and the B1 revision this processor was the best that we have seen to date. It was able to overclock all the way to 3.9GHz with hardly any issues at all.

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As you can tell we took three different Conroe cores and our overclocks ranged from 3.2GHz to 3.9GHz.  This wide range of overclocks can be due to a number of things, but none of them matter because all of the shipping processors should be B2 revisions. If you are buying used processors on E-Bay or some random sites forums beware the older steppings as they are buggy and poor overclockers!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Intel has had a rough couple of years when it comes to the desktop market.  The marketing team consists of a great group of guys and George Alfs and Dan Snyder have been telling the press for years to hang on and don't write Intel off just yet when it comes to leading the performance benchmarks.  I know for a fact that everyone at Intel is going to be up all night as they are wanting to see what the top brass of the enthusiast community thinks of their new processors.  I guess this is where I am supposed to tell them my thoughts!

 After using Conroe for some time now I feel it is safe to say that Intel has done a great job with Conroe. I usually don't mention specific people when it comes to launch day articles like this, but I believe gamers and enthusiasts around the world need to take a second and thank Bob Valentine and Jack Doweck, who were the lead architects for Conroe. These two are part of the Intel Israel Development Center (IDC) which was made famous for the Pentium M processor. The Intel Core processor family has really nothing to do with the previous pentium 4 family as only the prefetching was carried over from the Pentium 4 processors. Everything else found in Core 2 Duo processos is an evolution of "Yonah" (Core Duo), which was itself an improvement of Dothan and Banias all of which are from the mobile family of processors.

With the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme family of processors Intel has fixed the core to core communication between each processor thanks to having a unified cache.  The unified cache found in the Conroe processors greatly helps performance and the benchmarking numbers do all the talking here.

Intel has hit a home run with their lastest core and has them ramped up and ready to roll out the door.  Every launch I always get asked by analysts and the media what the gating factor for Intel will be and this time it's an easy call. Intel has production ramped up on these 65nm cores and is currently producing their stepping 5 revision B2 cores at speed.  The limiting factor here will actually be chipsets.  With the Intel 975X chipsets costing so much and few boards using this chipset in the market being Conroe ready will mean that people will look towards other chipsets.  The Intel 965 chipset is still new and currently not even available at Newegg, which goes to show that motherboards will be tight on this one. The one good thing for Intel is the fact that NVIDIA and ATI will be producing their own chipsets for Conroe platforms.

There are an assortment of NVIDIA nForce 500-based motherboards coming. They include:

 There will be more NVIIDA based motherboards, including those based on the nForce 570 Ultra family as well. With the use of Intel 965/975 and NVIDIA 570SLI/590SLI chipsets Intel might be able to keep up processor and motherboard demand in the market. When it comes to DDR2 memory and PCIe graphics cards the market is covered, so it's mainly a chipset issue right now.

With both the Core 2 Extreme X6800 and the Core 2 Duo E6700 easily outperforming the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 across the board we expect AMD to do something here in the near future.  We had the chance to talk with AMD on the phone today they promised Legit Reviews that AMD will have an agressive price move come in July and went on to say that AMD will not give up the lead in price versus perfomance.  Other than that AMD let us know that their upgradable 4x4 platform is coming along in their test labs, but AMD has yet to have the launch quarter narrowed down. At Legit Reviews we believe competion is good and in the end it is the consumers that will win.  For now the victory flag goes back to Intel with one of the most impressive new cores that we have seen to day.  Now if I could just get my hands on quad-core!

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Legit Bottom Line

From our testing experience during this review, we have found the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor family to perform better than the previous generation core and conserve energy while doing so.  It is because of this and the fact that Intel has taken the performance lead back from AMD that we gladly award the Intel "Conroe" processor the Legit Reviews Editor's Choice!

Editor's Choice