AMD, you've had a good run.
Intel has announced its line of Core 2 Duo desktop CPUs. If you're buying a new computer or you're building one of your own, you would be wise to see that it has one of Intel's new dual-core chips in it. The Core 2 Duo chips include not only the fastest desktop chips on the market, but also the most cost-effective and among the most power-efficient. About the only people these new chips aren't good news for are the folk at AMD, who can claim the desktop CPU crown no longer.
We've given the full review treatment to two the five Core 2 Duo chips. You can read about the price-performance champ, the Core 2 Duo E6700 here. In this review we'll examine Intel's flagship, the 2.93GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800, which is now the fastest desktop CPU you can buy.
The Core 2 Duo represents a new era for Intel. It's the first desktop chip family that doesn't use the NetBurst architecture, which has been the template for every design since the Pentium 4. Instead, the Core 2 Duo uses what's called the Core architecture (not to be confused with Intel's Core Duo and Core Solo laptop chips, released in January). The advances in the Core architecture explain why even though the Core 2 Duo chips have lower clock speeds, they're faster than the older dual-core Pentium D 900 series chips. The Core 2 Extreme X6800 chip, the Core 2 Duo E6700, and the Core 2 E6600 represent the top tier of Intel's new line, and in addition to the broader Core architecture similarities, they all have 4MB of unified L2 cache. The lower end of the Core 2 Duo line, the E6400 and the E6300, has a 2MB unified L2 cache.
It's not simply one feature that gives the Core 2 Duo chips their strength, but rather a host of design improvements across the chip and the way it transports data that improves performance -- our test results bear this out.
The Core 2 Extreme X6800 made a clean sweep of all of our benchmarks. AMD's closest competition, the 2.6GHz Athlon 64 FX-62, came within 5 per cent on our iTunes, multitasking and Microsoft Office tests, but on our Half-Life 2 and our Adobe Photoshop CS2 tests, AMD lost badly, by as much as 28 per cent on Half-Life 2. At $999 (£527), Intel's new flagship processor might not be as compelling a deal as the only slightly slower $530 (£290) Core 2 Duo E6700, but for enthusiasts and others with the passion and the wallet to ensure that they have the fastest chip out there, the Core 2 Extreme X6800 is now it.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
||Half-Life 2: Lost Coast 1,024x768 no AA, no AF|