CPU Charts 2012: 86 Processors From AMD And Intel, Tested

No Surprise: Intel Takes The Performance Crown, AMD Represents Value

The raw data makes it pretty clear that Intel's Sandy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E, Ivy Bridge, and Nehalem micro-architectures are clearly faster than AMD's highest-end models. Even though we're missing Piledriver-based chips right now (again, they're going to be added soon, along with some older Core-based chips), benchmarks we've already run show that the flagship FX-8350 goes up against Intel's Core i5-3570, not its faster Core i7s.

There's no way around it: if outright speed is your top priority, and you have some money to spend, Intel wears the crown. From about $250 to $1050 or so, AMD simply cannot compete. Anything pricier than that and you're out of the desktop market entirely.

The silver lining, of course, is that AMD's FX processors do handle threaded applications fairly well. Even though they use quite a bit of power, a combination of modest performance and low cost is attractive to power users on a budget.

Lower-end Athlon II and Phenom II models are respectable in their own right, too. Depending on the applications you're running, screaming frame rates and lightning-fast transcodes may not be as important. For basic desktop-oriented productivity, you can get away with a dual-core CPU and spend very little. The quad- and hexa-core models are decent performers as well.

As you ascend the hierarchy of speed, each percentage point of performance costs increasingly more. Just look at the difference between a $320 Core i7-3770K and $1030 Core i7-3960X. If you're looking for a sweet spot in Intel's line-up, we're still fans of the Core i5-3570K at $215. The Core i5-3470 at $200 isn't bad either, though an unlocked multiplier ratio on the K-series part is easily worth $15 on its own.

In AMD's line-up, an FX-8320 might be your best bet for a desktop PC with discrete graphics. That's one of the models we plan to add shortly. At $180, it looks like a decent alternative to the FX-8350 at $220 or FX-8150 at $190. If your graphics requirements are more modest, and you don't need to spend extra on an add-in card, the A10-5800K is AMD's one Trinity-based APU that tends to do everything better than the previous generation. Selling for $120, it's good enough to warrant a look.

If power consumption is a major concern, it'd be hard to generalize and recommend one vendor over the other. Intel and AMD both offer low-power parts capable of going easy on your electricity bill. The former has its Sandy Bridge-based Pentium G630, Core i5-2500T, and Core i5-2400S processors that we tested, while the latter has the Athlon II X2 240e and Athlon II X2 250.

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    Top Comments
  • amdfangirl
    Sometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.
    50
  • mayankleoboy1
    Great benchmarks.
    But i want some processors which were legendary overclockers, and representatives of their generation of CPU's, included with a nominal OC :

    intel C2D E7300 : 2.66- > 3.33
    Intel C2Q Q6600 : 2.4- > 3.0ghz
    Intel i5-750 : 2.66 - >3.33

    Its highly likely that a person has owned at least one of these CPU's. I want to know how well these compare to modern processors.
    23
  • johnsonjohnson
    Sandy and Ivy i3s are MIA.
    20
  • Other Comments
  • amdfangirl
    Sometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.
    50
  • Anonymous
    Where are the Visual Studio Test results?
    7
  • johnsonjohnson
    Sandy and Ivy i3s are MIA.
    20
  • emperor piehead
    Why is the fx6300 missing i wanted to see how it fit into this
    10
  • Anonymous
    Thanks Toms, now i know that i can get double the performance and 3/4 the power consumption going from AMD 955 to a Core i5 3570K.
    2
  • mayankleoboy1
    Great benchmarks.
    But i want some processors which were legendary overclockers, and representatives of their generation of CPU's, included with a nominal OC :

    intel C2D E7300 : 2.66- > 3.33
    Intel C2Q Q6600 : 2.4- > 3.0ghz
    Intel i5-750 : 2.66 - >3.33

    Its highly likely that a person has owned at least one of these CPU's. I want to know how well these compare to modern processors.
    23
  • mayankleoboy1
    And please update the Winrar to version 4.2 . The 3.9 you are using is quite old and has poor multithreading.
    6
  • bak0n
    amdfangirlSometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.

    I always wish this. Beyond that the AM3 Athlon X2's are still being sold at newegg and the Phenom X2's are not...
    6
  • Soma42
    amdfangirlSometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.


    Agreed, maybe just one dual core and one quad? q9550 and e6850? not that I still own both of those or anything...

    But let's do some math. Just for a rough order of magnitude I figure an average of 15% increase in performance per clock cycle, per generation (not including clock speed, number of cores, etc.). So if we start back at Conroe and work our way to present day Ivy Bridge, that's 5 new generations of processors. 1.15^5 = 2.01

    Which means that an Ivy Bridge CPU at the same speed as a Conroe CPU (2006ish) is about 2x as fast per clock cycle, on average. Once you take into account faster clock speeds, number of cores, cache sizes, integrated memory controllers, etc. and more importantly what software will be used with the CPUs the real world performance difference could be almost nothing to somewhere around 10-15x as fast.

    I digress. The point being, is I would like to see some more benchies Tom's! Prove me wrong!
    -3
  • flyflinger
    Lot of great info here, but missing Core i3 info leaves a big hole in the data point. Please add.
    16
  • JOSHSKORN
    amdfangirlSometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.

    Yes! Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU owner here.
    8
  • Onikage
    A Proud Owner of 2700K here !
    i'll skip ivy and Haswell as well with this Sensational Cpu at 4.6Ghz
    3
  • EzioAs
    I believe the i5-2500K has a 95W TDP instead of 65W.
    15
  • Sumukh_Bhagat
    This is very Helpful. Now I knew that I did a very good work upgrading to 3470. ;)
    There should be i3 3220 too. Really wanted to know about that.
    6
  • A Bad Day
    amdfangirlSometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.


    Throw in a Pentium 4 as a reminder to those folks who still think they can run BF3 on a 1.8 GHz Willamette.


    And as for fun, there should've been a CPU rendering test. Windows 7 has a function that allows a CPU do to DX10 graphics, completely bypassing the GPU. The only obviously issue that CPUs are terrible compared to GPUs when it comes to graphics.

    http://www.istartedsomething.com/20081126/direct3d-warp10-to-enable-you-to-play-dx10-crysis-using-software-renderer-only-albeit-slowly/
    8
  • tomfreak
    amdfangirlSometimes I wish you updated legacy CPUs like the Core 2 Duo or even perhaps the Athlon 64 X2 series, just one or two models so that people upgrading can have an idea how much faster the CPU is in relation to their new purchase.
    Agreed, 1 Core 2 duo/quad 65nm & Core 2 duo/quad 45nm.

    There is no need to bench 2600K/2700K & Core i5-2300/Core i5-2310, just one of the 2 set will do, because we all know their performance is close to identical.
    12
  • nebun
    amd has a lot of work to do
    4
  • JebbyC
    Is it just me or are the Mafia II frame rates really low?
    11
  • Cryio
    Why are there no Vishera CPUs in the charts?
    1
  • Cryio
    "Of course, as we all know now, the Piledriver-based Vishera parts are available, and have been since late October. Worry not; we are in the process of running several more processors based on Piledriver through the same suite of benchmarks, and will be updating the charts soon"

    Sorry, didn't get to read that :D
    9