Dual-Core Versus Quad-Core: Part 2

Performance: Game and Audio Benchmarks

Let us remind you that the comparison isn’t a fair battle from a benchmarking standpoint, as we selected an AMD processor that matches one of the fastest Core 2 Duos, the E8500, in its 65 W power envelope and product pricing. Since the Phenom X4 9350e is a low-power version, which comes at a price premium, we could also have used a Phenom that runs at a faster clock speed, but costs a bit less. This would help AMD to beat the Core 2 Duo in the benchmarks where our two processors finished equally fast, but it would not make a significant difference if the gap between the AMD quad core and the Intel dual core is too significant. However, it would also have introduced disadvantages for AMD in the efficiency tests that you’ll find on the following pages as well, since the regular Phenom processors running at over 2.0 GHz are 95 W or even 130/135 W parts.

Please keep this in mind and take the results with a little grain of salt.

Game Benchmarks

Clearly, Crysis depends a lot on processor clock speed, as it provides significantly faster frame rates on the Core 2 Duo processor at 3.16 GHz than on the Phenom X4 at 2.0 GHz. We also used Crysis to track system power consumption during an intensive 3D application. You’ll find the results below, in the efficiency test section.

Supreme Commander’s results are the exact opposite: it runs much faster on the AMD quad core than it does on Intel’s dual core.

Unreal Tournament 3 isn’t as processor-sensitive, as both CPUs provide more or less equal performance for this shooter.

The same applies for World in Conflict: Intel provides much better performance thanks to higher clock speed and better performance per clock.

Audio Benchmarks

iTunes isn’t very optimized for multiple cores, and it benefits from the Core microarchitecture being faster per clock. Hence the Core 2 converts the Terminator 2 soundtrack from WAV audio into Apple’s AAC format within one minute and six seconds, while the quad core Phenom X4 9350e takes almost twice as much time.

The results in Lame are similar: converting uncompressed WAV audio into the 160 kbps MP3 format takes twice as long as on the AMD processor, although it has double the cores. The multi-threaded version of Lame still cannot take advantage of the processing power.