Intel Core i5-661: Clarkdale Rings The Death Knell Of Core 2

Benchmark Results: Media/Transcoding Apps

We start things off with iTunes 9, which is not optimized for threading and will most likely reward the most efficient architecture with the highest clock rate.

The fast Core i5-661 CPU gets an extra kick from Turbo Boost in this single-threaded application to take the win in our CD conversion test. It’s followed by the Core i5-750, which also gets Turbo’ed into second place, and the Core 2 Duo E8500, which doesn’t need Turbo.

It’s important to remember that, while our comparison here covers Intel’s architecture powering its newest entry-level processors, the Core i5-661 is priced to compete against the fastest CPU that AMD sells: its Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition.

The flagship Phenom II exerts itself in our MainConcept test, taking a first-place finish. Without Hyper-Threading to help it, and with Turbo Boost lending minimal benefit, the Lynnfield-based Core i5-750 takes second place. The Core 2 Quad Q9400 shows that four true cores trump two Hyper-Threaded cores as it takes third.

HandBrake has been popularly requested by our readers, so we’ve added it to our 2010 benchmark suite, converting a .vob from The Last Samurai to .mp4 format.

AMD’s Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition repeats its victory, besting Intel’s Core i5-750 by one second. The Core 2 Quad Q9400 takes third place, beating out the Core i5-661. Nevertheless, Intel’s Clarkdale-based CPUs demonstrate the benefits of Hyper-Threading by finishing the job more than five minutes faster than the 3.16 GHz Core 2 Duo E8500.

The Lynnfield-based Core i5-750 wins in the DivX and Xvid codecs, breezing past the Phenom II in both cases. The Clarkdale CPU takes second place in Xvid, which isn’t well-optimized for threading and instead gets by on its higher clock rate and Turbo Boost acceleration. The Phenom II does take second in DivX, though, by virtue of the codec’s threaded nature.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Zoonie
    Well... I think that takes care of the dreaded "But can it play Crysis?" question regarding its GMA :D :P :P
  • xc0mmiex
    Video on page 1 not working ... "This is a private video..."
  • eklipz330
    can i ask why you teased us at the end with the 4.5ghz OC but didn't include them in the benchmarks? =
  • cangelini
    xc0mmiexVideo on page 1 not working ... "This is a private video..."
    Fixed! Had to keep it private pre-launch :)
  • I really like the improvements Larrabee brought about....not! I do like the fact they are making progress but they really need to skip ahead a few generations or buy out some other company to design a GPU for themselves.
  • gkay09
    ^ Many more reasons to buy AMD Phenoms II X4 in the mid-range segment...
    Only drawback with the AMD CPUs is the power consumption, that I feel can be brought down with slight undervolting...
  • dtemple
    I'm looking to upgrade from my Athlon X2 @ 2.7GHz because I do more with the computer now than I did before - sometimes I'll play a game while my TV tuner is recording from my cable signal, and having more cores would help these multiple tasks run more smoothly.
    I was waiting until the Clarkdale-based i5 launched, thinking it would be a quad-core that was more competitively priced against the Phenom II X4, but it looks like a Phenom II X4 is my only option to get more cores for less money.
    The only good news coming out of this launch is that LGA1156 is not changing for the Clarkdale chips, so it looks to be the most future-proof platform to upgrade to, if one was so inclined. I'm personally going with a Phenom II since I can get one without changing motherboards. This is one of the more disappointing launches in the last year or so.
  • cangelini
    eklipz330can i ask why you teased us at the end with the 4.5ghz OC but didn't include them in the benchmarks? =
    We have another overclocking piece planned--I wanted to get a Core i3, at least, to include :)
  • I would love to see what GTA IV would do do the dual cores in gaming! I do know that its a bear of a game on the CPU and it would truly show off if hyperthreading could actually make a major difference.
  • maximus20895
    Great video once again! Thanks for this and the review itself. Very informative. I really liked the graph on the first page too :)