Test System And Benchmarks
Testing LGA 1156-, LGA 1155-, and AM3-based CPUs requires three separate platforms. All use the same memory and hard drive to eliminate those factors as performance variables.
The LGA 1155 platform is built on Asus’ P8P67 Pro, a board that proved to be the best overclocker in our P67 motherboard roundup. Additionally, this platform includes an integrated Bluetooth transceiver and a separate controller for twin eSATA ports. Though the platform includes three PCIe x16 slots, the third is limited to x4 signaling rates. Moreover, it doesn't include Nvidia's NF200 bridge chip, so you're only able to do two-way SLI here. For more information on the P8P67 Pro, check out P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards. For those concerned that performance in our tests could be affected by the Cougar Point SATA issue, don’t worry. We’re using the 6 Gb/s SATA ports, and the issue only affects the 3 Gb/s ports.
We're using Gigabyte's GA-MA790XT-UD4P in our AMD-based platform. This board features the 790X chipset, which should have no trouble delivering similar performance as any of the 800-series chipsets.
Intel's LGA 1156-based system employs Gigabyte's H55M-UD2H, a board that we've seen perform well in a number of articles, including the previous sub-$150 gaming CPU comparison.
A single GeForce GTX 480 drives all three of these builds. Just to be clear, we selected this card not because it's something we recommend pairing with a low-end CPU, but because it's a powerful board that should serve to alleviate any potential graphics bottleneck in our quest to explore CPU performance.
|Simulated CPU Chart|
|AMD Athlon II X3 455||Intel Core i3-550||Intel Core i3-560||Intel Core i3-2120||Intel Core i5-2300|
|Simulated With:||AMD Athlon II X3 450||Intel Core i3-540||Intel Core i3-540||Intel Core i3-2100||Intel Core i5-2500K|
|Target Clock Speed:||3300 MHz||3200 MHz||3330 MHz||3200 MHz||2800 MHz(3100 Turbo)|
|Actual Clock Speed:||3304 MHz||3197 MHz||3335 MHz||3186 MHz||2807 MHz (3097 Turbo)|
|Target Memory Speed:||669 MHz@ 9-9-9-20-1T||669 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-1T||669 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-1T||669 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-33-1T||669 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-33-1T|
|Actual memory Speed:||688 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-1T(19 MHz o/c)||695 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-1T(36 MHz o/c)||725 MHz @ 10-10-10-22-1T(56 MHz o/c)||707 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-33-1T(48 MHz o/c)||646 MHz @ 9-9-9-20-33-1T(23 MHz u/c)|
Because some of our CPUs have to be simulated, memory clocks are a little tricky. We're staying as close to the base specification (669 MHz memory with 9-9-9-20-1T timings) as possible.
Despite the small memory speed inconsistency for these simulated processors, the results fall precisely where we would expect them to be at standard clocks. Any performance differences appear to be well within the margin of error.
|Intel LGA 1156 Test System||AMD Test System||Intel LGA 1155 Test System|
|CPU||Intel Core i3-550 3.2 GHz (Clarkdale)*Intel Core i3-560 3.33 GHz (Clarkdale)**simulated by overclocking a Core i3-540||AMD Athlon II X3 455 3.3 GHz (Rana)**AMD Athlon II X4 640 3 GHz (Propus)AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8 GHz (Deneb)AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.2 GHz (Deneb)AMD Phenom II X4 970 3.5 GHz (Deneb)AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo) (Thuban)**simulated by overclocking an Athlon II X3 450||Intel Core i3-2100 3.1 GHz (Sandy Bridge)Intel Core i3-2120 3.3 GHz (Sandy bridge)***Intel Core i5-2300 2.8 GHz (3.1 GHz Turbo) (Sandy Bridge)****Intel Core i5-2400 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo) (Sandy bridge)***simulated by overclocking a Core i3-2100****simulated by underclocking a Core i3-2500K|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte H55M-UD2H LGA 1156 Chipset: Intel H55||Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P Socket AM3 Chipset: AMD 790X||Asus P8P67 Pro Chipset: Intel P67|
|Networking||Onboard Gigabit LAN controller|
|Memory||OCZ PC3-16000 2 x 2 GB, 1338 MT/s, CL 9-9-9-20-1T|
|Graphics||GeForce GTX 480 Reference700 MHz GPU, 1 GB GDDR5 at 924 MHz|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s|
|Power||ePOWER EP-1200E10-T2 1200W ATX12V, EPS12V|
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 x64|
|DirectX version||DirectX 11|
|Graphics Drivers||GeForce 266.58 WHQL|
|Metro 2033||Version 126.96.36.199, DirectX 11, benchmark tool, High Quality, No AA, 16x AF, advanced physX disabled, tesselation enabled, DOF disabled|
|Aliens vs Predator||Version 188.8.131.52, Aliens vs Predator DirectX 11 benchmark Default Settings, No AA, 16x AF|
|Lost Planet 2||Version 184.108.40.206, DirectX 11, Highest Settings, 4x AA, In-game benchmark Test A|
|F1 2010||Version 220.127.116.11, DirectX 11, in-game benchmark Ultra Detail Settings, 4x AA|
|Just Cause 2||Version 18.104.22.168, DirectX 10, Concrete Jungle Benchmark Highest Details, 4x AA, 16x AF, Bokeh Filter & GPU Water Simulation off|
|StarCraft 2||Version: 22.214.171.1245, Ultra-High SettingsTom's Hardware Guide Benchmark|