Dual Core Stress Test: AMD vs. Intel

Previous Log Entries: The Race For Best Performance

Thursday, June 9, 2005: At long last, both platforms are running in a stable manner, so the crew can concentrate on the data records and working out the current rankings. We again received hundreds of e-mails, all asking the same basic question: Does this mark the emergence of an Intel platform that is not as fully developed as we normally would expect from this manufacturer? One would think that the new flagship - the Pentium 840 EE coupled with the pricey 955X chipset - shouldn't exhibit these sorts of problems. Consider that AMD has now ironed out all sticking points on its top platform with the Athlon 64 X2 4800+.

Special cooler for Pentium 840 EE, only evident from the label

Cooler for the other dual core CPUs from Intel - the top Pentium 840 EE model gets overheated with this model. It's difficult to tell the coolers apart.

However, the reason for the system crashes in the last few days are now very clear. The boxed cooler we used briefly was only designed for the Pentium 820 - also dual core but clocked at 2.8 GHz - not for the top-of-the-line Pentium 840 EE (3.2 GHz) model. The two boxed coolers, which are nearly identical in appearance, differ in that a large copper core is used in the model for the 830/840/840EE processors. Added to that is the much higher fan speed: 3500 RPM instead of the 2000 RPM on the "smaller" model.

At this point, the volatile nature of the issue becomes evident, when processors rated with thermal dissipation of more than 120 W (TDP 130 W) require fan cooling to work. Intel claims its Pentium 840 EE can reach a maximum temperature of 69.8°C - a figure that was clearly exceeded in the specified time period.

The vital statistics for the cooler on Intel's fastest dual core CPU look like this:

  • Weight up to a maximum of 1.2 lb (550 grams)
  • Dimensions of 3.2" (81.3 mm) in height and a base area of 3.75" x 3.75" (95 x 95 mm).

These details are especially important for OEMs.

Handpicked press kit for the 955X platform - it comes with the matching components.

Dual core is not always dual core: other specs apply at higher clock speeds.