Experiment: Comparing Four Quad-Core Architectures At 2.8 GHz

AMD Phenom II X4, Intel Core 2 Quad

We wanted to include an Athlon II X4 at 2.8 GHz as well, but we couldn’t get a model 630 in time for this review. The only alternative would have been the 2.6 GHz Athlon II X4 620, which we did not want to overclock since doing so would also increase memory and system clock speeds. The main difference between Athlon II X4 and Phenom II X4 is L3 cache. You’ll find performance comparison between these two in this article: Athlon II or Phenom II: Does Your CPU Need L3 Cache? Keep in mind that Athlon II X4 is just a bit slower than Phenom II X4 when looking at the benchmark results later on.

AMD Phenom II X4 (Socket AM3)

The Phenom II X4 has been available for a while. You will find detailed information on the Phenom II X4 in the following articles:

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE: Same Speed, Less Power

Athlon II or Phenom II: Does Your CPU Need L3 Cache?

Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review

AMD Phenom II X4 955: Finally a Flagship

Phenom II X4 955: AMD’s Dragon Platform Evolves

The Phenom II X4 965 BE is the 3.4 GHz flagship, and will remain the fastest AMD chip until a possible 975 version at 3.6 GHz would take over in early 2010. Like all Phenom II X4 processors, it comes with four individual cores and a shared 6MB L3 cache. There is also an 800-series, which only has 4MB L3 cache. However, we decided to focus on the 900-series because of the small price difference. The entry-level model here is the 910, which runs at 2.6 GHz. Our 2.8 GHz clock speed equals the Phenom II X4 925.

Intel Core 2 Quad (LGA 775)

The Core 2 Quad is a veteran on the quad-core field, having been with us for roughly two years now. The Core 2 Quads differ from competing four-core designs, such as the Core i5/i7 and AMD Phenom X4 offerings, in that they are based on two dual-core dies, which Intel puts into one processor package. Although there has been criticism of this concept, it works well. Ultimately, the results are what counts.

We used a Core 2 Quad Q9550S, which has a nominal 2.83 GHz clock speed. We then reduced the front side bus speed by 3 MHz to 330 MHz for a 2.80 GHz effective clock speed.

Core 2 Quad is based on Intel’s LGA 775 platform, which is being replaced by the Nehalem-based LGA 1156 architecture. Intel’s new 32nm processor generation (Westmere), starting with the dual-core Core i5/i3 (Clarkdale), will be the engine behind this transition process. Therefore we recommend you go for an i-series platform, rather than Core 2, unless you find an incredibly good deal.

Core 2 Quad Gets Efficient

Intel’s 45nm Penryn CPU