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A Brief Interlude: Phenom II Versus Core i5

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review

Before we dig into the complete Phenom II X4 965 BE review, let's look at our approximated Core i5 comparison:

We’re used to seeing big bandwidth numbers from Core i7’s integrated memory controller and triple-channel DDR3 configurations. Pull one 64-bit channel out of contention and you’re still going to see significant throughput. In both test cases here, we’re looking at memory bandwidth using 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 at 7-7-7.

This represents a worst-case scenario for Core i5, since iTunes is not threaded. Normally, the chip would surge to 3.2 GHz in a situation like this one, with a single core active. Instead, it earns its win at 2.8 GHz—the best our Core i7-920 could muster.

Heavily optimized for threading, WinRAR is perhaps more demonstrative of how a Core i5 might perform in a situation with all four cores simultaneously taxed. The gain is, not surprisingly, more significant.

In both DivX and Xvid encoding, performance between the Core i5-750 and Phenom II X4 965 is close. DivX is able to take advantage of multiple cores, so its result isn’t expected to change much when Core i5 actually starts shipping. Xvid only hits 25% utilization on a quad-core platform, though, so there’s a fair chance that extra Turbo-induced frequency will give Intel’s offering a larger lead.

We only ran a handful of benchmarks here. These numbers are simulated, after all. Also, this is an AMD Phenom II review, and what matters most is how the Phenom II X4 965 fares against its competition today.

Even still, we think it’s important to be cognizant of what’s coming, so if you want to draw your own comparisons between today’s AMD launch and Intel’s planned roadmap, bear in mind that Core i5 loses one memory channel and Hyper-Threading, but gains significant one- and two-core performance thanks to a beefed-up Turbo feature. Depending on the application, that should let you derive your own expectations of Core i7-920 and Core i5-750, both with 2.66 GHz stock clocks.

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