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Efficiency Results

Clarkdale's Efficiency: Core i5-661 Versus Core 2, Athlon II, And Phenom II
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Our efficiency run consists of several applications written into a batch script in the following order:

  • 3ds Max
  • DivX
  • Xvid
  • Lame
  • MainConcept
  • PDF Creation
  • Photoshop
  • AVG Anti Virus
  • WinRAR
  • WinZip


Some of these applications don’t take advantage of multiple processing cores; others do heavily. The batch file creates time stamps at the beginning of the run and once it has finished. This way we track the total time required for the test run to complete.

In the meantime, we also track power consumption in one-second intervals during the test run. This allows us to examine power consumption for each application and to create power consumption profiles for each system. The result is runtime performance score and power consumption readings, which we use to analyze efficiency. Idle power is taken out of the equation since differences are rather small.

The runtime reflects total performance of the test system and reveals benefits for the Core i5-661 in the same range as we’ve seen in individual benchmark runs.

The average power used during our efficiency workload was lowest on the new Core i5…

…as well as the total power used to complete the workloads. This is where the new Intel platform strikes hardest. If we now go ahead and relate performance to watt-hours used…

… we get a score that says that Intel’s new Core i5-661 delivers 43% more performance per watt than a Core 2 Duo machine with the G45 chipset and twice the efficiency as an Athlon II X2 240e on AMD’s 785G. Clearly, more performance combined with reduced power consumption results in a pretty heavy efficiency dominance.

Our workload does not include any idle time, which some might criticize. However, in this case, the extremely low idle power of the Core i5-661 system would move the results even more in its favor, as it requires significantly less power.

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  • 58 Hide
    rdawise , January 5, 2010 5:54 AM
    I one major question about this article.

    Why do you compare a $196 Core i5 / $279 Core 2 duo(Intel) to a $102 x2 550 / $90 x2 240e (AMD)? This doesn't sound like a linear comparasion.

    Taking price into these results, the AMD process performed as expected.

    Not trying to bash the author, but I am curious to know what was the logic.
  • 48 Hide
    noob2222 , January 5, 2010 5:40 AM
    couldn't have picked a worse AMD pick than the x2 550 to use as a comparison. Its essentially a X4 cpu that didn't pass the tests and sold as an x2, efficient it is not, and outperformed easily by the Athlon II x3 and x4 cpus.

    This is no more than a push for the new Intel cpus, cherry picked benchmarks and crapped out AMD cpus. This whole article should be picked up by Intel as their new marketing campaign, take the fastest new Intel cpus and pit them against AMD's slowest.

    LRN TO REVIEW PROPERLY
  • 38 Hide
    benzjie , January 5, 2010 6:13 AM
    new car test : ferrari is faster then a VW beatle .
Other Comments
  • 48 Hide
    noob2222 , January 5, 2010 5:40 AM
    couldn't have picked a worse AMD pick than the x2 550 to use as a comparison. Its essentially a X4 cpu that didn't pass the tests and sold as an x2, efficient it is not, and outperformed easily by the Athlon II x3 and x4 cpus.

    This is no more than a push for the new Intel cpus, cherry picked benchmarks and crapped out AMD cpus. This whole article should be picked up by Intel as their new marketing campaign, take the fastest new Intel cpus and pit them against AMD's slowest.

    LRN TO REVIEW PROPERLY
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 5, 2010 5:51 AM
    AMD needs to increase the performance of their CPUs, especially integer-wise, which has been a weakness of AMD CPUs for a long time. If they can improve their floating-point unit again, they will be able to retake the lead. This will also help the Opterons. Power consumption is good and does not need to be reduced further. Their chipsets are superior, in my view, although the 780/785G needs support for two digital-monitors. Their graphics cards are superior as well. It's just their CPU architecture that's fallen behind.
  • 58 Hide
    rdawise , January 5, 2010 5:54 AM
    I one major question about this article.

    Why do you compare a $196 Core i5 / $279 Core 2 duo(Intel) to a $102 x2 550 / $90 x2 240e (AMD)? This doesn't sound like a linear comparasion.

    Taking price into these results, the AMD process performed as expected.

    Not trying to bash the author, but I am curious to know what was the logic.
  • 33 Hide
    Anonymous , January 5, 2010 5:58 AM
    why do you compare intel cpus that cost 190euro and 240 euro with amd cpus that cost last than half the price of the intels (58 and 95 euro)if you wanna compare it fair you have to take a processor of the same price point like amd the amd x4 905 and low cost intel how you tell this is like every amd cpu is slow but how would it be compared to the atlonII x3 435 in efficiency?
  • 27 Hide
    masterjaw , January 5, 2010 6:00 AM
    You should've compared it to Athlon/Phenom II X3/X4 CPUs, not the X2s. All you just do is to pit a definitely disadvantageous processor against these new ones to make it shine brighter. All this "PR" talk will slide down once the price is included. Oh wait, it wasn't included.
  • 34 Hide
    tacoslave , January 5, 2010 6:01 AM
    they should at least tested the athlon X4 620. That would have been a LITTLE bit fair.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , January 5, 2010 6:02 AM
    +1 rdawise
  • 23 Hide
    johnbilicki , January 5, 2010 6:06 AM
    There is some obvious Intel bias here. For top-end 790FX chipset for socket AM3 you don't have to spend $200+ whereas the equivalent (without cheating and sticking an nForce chip on an 1156) you end up paying $300+.

    Add to the fact that Intel has made it clear that socket 1156 will not get anything more then quad cores only further screws over people buying in to the socket 1156 hype.

    Oh and I just read on the Inq that Intel even cheats with their compilers so when software vendors compile their applications Intel's compiler uses the best paths for Intel and the slowest ones for their competitors.

    Oh...and as an upgrader there is no point to upgrading a system if every time you buy a new CPU the motherboard becomes useless...especially when they cost $300+ for a good quality one.

    Last but not least I also read over at Anandtech that x86 instructions introduce waste in general...do a search for 'x86 waste'.

    Really...I'm happy with 60FPS on my 60Hz screen in games. There is a difference between being happy and being an outright blind materialist. I love my X4 20! ;) 
  • 20 Hide
    tacoslave , January 5, 2010 6:07 AM
    nerrawgIt is hard to see how AMD is going stop or even slow the growing performance gap between their architectures and intel. Their current strategy of lowering prices and increasing stock clocks has worked pretty well until now, but it is questionable if this will continue to be a successful strategy against the new Core i3/i5 releases. Meanwhile Intel can easily sit back and rake in huge profit margins on 32nm cpus that cost them less to produce than AMD, with less binning issues as the architectures are efficient enough to run at lower clocks and still be competitive. What really looks ridiculous to me is the fact that they mean to release a 6 core 45 nm deneb based cpu - even if you already own an AMD desktop, why would you want to spend extra dosh on new cpu based on outdated process and architecture that is going to sap power!?, especially when by that time the new 32nm AMD generation should be just around the corner - it doesn't make sense to me - the 6 core monster is never going to be mainstream - so AMD is stuck having to either increase clocks or cut prices - which is gonna really be a problem this time for Phemon II, where cut prices is really the only option. As for the cheaper Athlon II series - even the quad 620/630s face some serious competition from the i3 530 - looking at the most recent article on the matter the core i3 is 14% faster across the board and even beats the 620/630 in multitasking and and video encoding clock for clock - at stock it blasted an overclocked 630 at 3.71 Ghz in some benches!!! http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/c [...] u-review/7For a gaming and multitasking cpu there is no better cpu at ~100$, not to mention overclocking.... So how is AMD going to beat this price to performance!?I guess the best they can hope for until the next gen is customer ignorance. With higher stock clocks and more cores I'm sure they will be able to fool the less tech savvy into thinking they have got a bargain. Just look at the quad battle: AMD has 3.4 Ghz when the closest intel quad in price is running at 2.66 Ghz, and to the general public that must mean AMD is better! That is, until (if ever) the general public gets wise to the importance architecture and fabrication process....


    Because its cheaper i can upgrade easily and game properly within a budget. I.e get a 940 and a decent motherboard for 250 and spend cash on a better graphics card = better gaming for less $.
  • 38 Hide
    benzjie , January 5, 2010 6:13 AM
    new car test : ferrari is faster then a VW beatle .
  • 29 Hide
    Anonymous , January 5, 2010 6:18 AM
    "The only factor left in AMD’s hand is price and effective value, but this won’t last forever without some major changes."

    Thats one BIG factor, you nearly completely overlooked in the article. Effective value is THE factor to most people.
  • 15 Hide
    frederico , January 5, 2010 6:19 AM

    I think the only people who will buy this 651 chip are hardcore overclocking enthusiasts. It is so expensive. The AMD chips are much better value for money, more than 100% better.
  • -9 Hide
    nerrawg , January 5, 2010 6:26 AM
    tacoslaveBecause its cheaper i can upgrade easily and game properly within a budget. I.e get a 940 and a decent motherboard for 250 and spend cash on a better graphics card = better gaming for less $.


    In gaming you would have been right to suggest that AMD was better value with its Phenom II X3 720 and Athlon X4 620/630 (not forgetting if you can also get your hands on a cheap 940/955) However with the release of the i3 530 Intel has finally brought some competition at these price points - don't believe me!? - read the linked article: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2010/01/04/intel-core-i5-661-core-i3-530-cpu-review/9

    In addition the p55 boards are getting as cheap as AM3 790 boards - so apples to apples there as well now. Once you factor in the massive overclocking headroom of the i3 530 then you really have a budget gaming cpu that multitasks as well as the athlon II X4's. So for almost all gaming it is competitive.

    What I think is really bad about the new Intel gen 1156 that all you AMD fanboys have yet to mention is the lack of a dual X16 PCi 2.0 lanes option. That segment for High end gaming is strangely where AMD is now the best value, as you can get 790FX board to run your 5800 series CF effectively without the price premium of the Intel X58 series. So really AMD has the best value for high end gaming - but can't claim ultimate victory in the midrange anymore, where the venerable phenom II x3 and newer athlon II X4s used to dominate.

    Also - love how you guys dish out the negative feedback without reading the articles - brilliant - and have to agree with all the points about unfair comparison in this article - there is a huge price discrepancy - but I think the just meant to look at power efficiency and there is no way that a phenom or athlon II X4 is gonna beat the 240e there
  • 2 Hide
    nerrawg , January 5, 2010 6:32 AM
    fredericoI think the only people who will buy this 651 chip are hardcore overclocking enthusiasts. It is so expensive. The AMD chips are much better value for money, more than 100% better.


    Agree - it won't be the 661 that people consider - it will be the i3 530 which is around £80. The 661 is only interesting if you are looking for a very powerful and yet efficient HTPC - otherwise it is not good value.

    As for your value analysis - any facts to back that up??! AMD do make good cpus when it comes to price/performance - but it all depends on what you intend to do and which cpu you are talking about. Blanket statements are hardly informative.
  • 5 Hide
    rdawise , January 5, 2010 7:13 AM
    nerrawgIn gaming you would have been right to suggest that AMD was better value with its Phenom II X3 720 and Athlon X4 620/630 (not forgetting if you can also get your hands on a cheap 940/955) However with the release of the i3 530 Intel has finally brought some competition at these price points - don't believe me!? - read the linked article: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/c [...] u-review/9 In addition the p55 boards are getting as cheap as AM3 790 boards - so apples to apples there as well now. Once you factor in the massive overclocking headroom of the i3 530 then you really have a budget gaming cpu that multitasks as well as the athlon II X4's. So for almost all gaming it is competitive. What I think is really bad about the new Intel gen 1156 that all you AMD fanboys have yet to mention is the lack of a dual X16 PCi 2.0 lanes option. That segment for High end gaming is strangely where AMD is now the best value, as you can get 790FX board to run your 5800 series CF effectively without the price premium of the Intel X58 series. So really AMD has the best value for high end gaming - but can't claim ultimate victory in the midrange anymore, where the venerable phenom II x3 and newer athlon II X4s used to dominate. Also - love how you guys dish out the negative feedback without reading the articles - brilliant - and have to agree with all the points about unfair comparison in this article - there is a huge price discrepancy - but I think the just meant to look at power efficiency and there is no way that a phenom or athlon II X4 is gonna beat the 240e there


    I agree that the i3 530 well be the new kid on the block in the value segment. AMD will have to drop prices on at least the x4 925 to compete.

    I want to clarify something on my post earlier (other than the grammar errors). I do understand that the author wants to compare dual cores to dual cores, but leaving out the price detail (especially in the conclusion where you predict doom for AMD) seems a little unbalanced.

  • 5 Hide
    tacoslave , January 5, 2010 7:46 AM
    nerrawgIn gaming you would have been right to suggest that AMD was better value with its Phenom II X3 720 and Athlon X4 620/630 (not forgetting if you can also get your hands on a cheap 940/955) However with the release of the i3 530 Intel has finally brought some competition at these price points - don't believe me!? - read the linked article: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/c [...] u-review/9 In addition the p55 boards are getting as cheap as AM3 790 boards - so apples to apples there as well now. Once you factor in the massive overclocking headroom of the i3 530 then you really have a budget gaming cpu that multitasks as well as the athlon II X4's. So for almost all gaming it is competitive. What I think is really bad about the new Intel gen 1156 that all you AMD fanboys have yet to mention is the lack of a dual X16 PCi 2.0 lanes option. That segment for High end gaming is strangely where AMD is now the best value, as you can get 790FX board to run your 5800 series CF effectively without the price premium of the Intel X58 series. So really AMD has the best value for high end gaming - but can't claim ultimate victory in the midrange anymore, where the venerable phenom II x3 and newer athlon II X4s used to dominate. Also - love how you guys dish out the negative feedback without reading the articles - brilliant - and have to agree with all the points about unfair comparison in this article - there is a huge price discrepancy - but I think the just meant to look at power efficiency and there is no way that a phenom or athlon II X4 is gonna beat the 240e there


    yeah you got my point I can game at high rez 1080p for a lot less cash. I bought a 940 and a 5870, i wouldnt be able to do that for the same amount of cash with an intel setup and get the same amount of gaming performance. With amd i can get a quad core overclock to 3.6 and splurge on a graphics card and get a beast of a pc for a lot less than intel. BUT i would get an i7 if i could its just that i have a budget just like most people here AND like most people here i like to get the most bang for my buck.
  • 2 Hide
    pschmid , January 5, 2010 7:57 AM
    @rdawise: Logic was dual core vs dual core.

    @noob2222, masterjaw, tacoslave, johnbilicki:
    Ok then - please suggest two AMD processors and one or two Intel CPUs for socket 1156 and we'll get you the results you're looking for. Focus on gaming or mixed benchmarks as in this story?

    Thanks,
    Patrick
  • 0 Hide
    tortnotes , January 5, 2010 8:06 AM
    "There’s still one UltraATA/133 channel, which can be handy for keeping optical or IDE-based hard drives afloat."

    ...optical-based hard drives?

    Sorry for nitpicking. :D 
  • 3 Hide
    SpadeM , January 5, 2010 8:41 AM
    pschmid@rdawise: Logic was dual core vs dual core.@noob2222, masterjaw, tacoslave, johnbilicki:o k then - please suggest two AMD processors and one or two Intel CPUs for socket 1156 and we'll get you the results you're looking for. Focus on gaming or mixed benchmarks as in this story?Thanks,Patrick


    We get it. The article shows that these i3 and i5 (at least the i5 that was reviewd) ARE THE BEST DUAL CORES currently on the market (performance and efficiency wise). The fact that they + platform cost a lot compared to a better performance AMD system isn't the main focus of the story here. Cause let's be honest here, if you're out for best bang for the buck u aren't going to be interested on how "saving the planet" are these chips cause at the end of the day money doesn't grow on trees so why would i bother buying something that doesn't help my wallet in the long run? (Yes if u take in account the power saved during a year u get 100 something bucks cheaper, but still it's just 100 bucks in a years time).
    Now for the suggestion .. it's simple really, take whichever intel i3 or i5 you have and the pick any amd/intel chip in the same price range. Make a pc-out of it, do the math as to how many dollars u have left in the proverbial wallet and see if that buys u a better graphics card/hard drive/wireless router or other pc related equipment.
    Bottom line is, high efficiency but weak performance (at the same price point) doesn't help me game better.
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