The Gigahertz Battle: How Do Today's CPUs Stack Up?

Battle At 2.4 GHz

AMD's Athlon 64 family used to dominate the processor market. This reign ended when Intel introduced its Core 2 Duo processor in the middle of 2006. It ended painfully for AMD, because the Core 2 Duo processors are faster, more efficient and more overclockable than Athlon 64 X2 processors. But AMD CPUs should still be taken into consideration, because recent pricing adjustments have helped to make them an attractive buy.

AMD has tried to educate people not to judge a processor based on its clock speed ever since the introduction of the Athlon XP. This processor had the difficult task to take on Intel's Pentium 4, and in fact it delivered equal performance at much lower clock speeds. Then came the Athlon 64, delivering even more performance per clock than the Pentium 4 family. Clock speed finally became secondary when AMD and Intel introduced their first dual-core processors. It was obvious that two processor cores would outperform a single-core CPU for modern, thread-optimized applications - even if the clock speed were to be reduced.

And there is another reason why clock speed seems to become less important over time: Even if you purchase a low-end processor today it will be powerful enough to do everything an average user wants. The average Joe won't take a serious interest in clock speed, cache size and certain features unless he has specific requirements.

Processor clock speed isn't all-dominant any more, but it tips the scales. However, we believe that it is still important enough to run a little analysis. How do processors perform if they are all clocked at the same speed?

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