Tom's Hardware: Core 2 Duo smokes AMD's Athlon 64 X2

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Westlake Village (CA) - Just about two weeks ahead of the official launch, Core 2 Duo's true performance capability comes to light. In tests conducted by Tom's Hardware Guide, Intel's new processor delivered stunning results, outpacing its AMD rival in almost every discipline. For the first time in about two years, Intel is offering a superior desktop processor that may cause more than just a headache for AMD.

Click to see the Core 2 Duo (Conroe) test system slide show ...

Click to see all Core 2 Duo benchmark results ...

Core 2 Duo will be Intel's second processor based on the firm's new Core micro architecture. Following the Xeon 5100, formerly code-named "Woodcrest", Intel will unleash the desktop version of Core: The Core 2 Duo E6000 series ("Conroe") will officially debut on 27 July and if we believe some industry sources, Intel may be even announcing the mobile variant - and foundation for all three processors - Core 2 Duo T7000 ("Merom") on that day as well.

Conroes has been in mass production for several weeks and has been shipping for some time. Press analysts also had access to standard production samples, but were under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and therefore were prevented from publishing information relating to Core 2 Duo. These NDAs expired tonight and there will be a flurry of reports on whether the new processor is as good as Intel promised it to be.

Extensive benchmark testing by Tom's Hardware's engineers leaves no doubt that this answer has to be answered with a clear yes. Core 2 Duo does not only bring a substantial jump in performance, it also manages to surpass its AMD rival: The Intel chip dominates most benchmark disciplines and came out on top in 35 out of 37 tests. AMD's fastest processor still holds the crown in synthetic benchmarks.

Enthusiast may be glad to hear that Core 2 Duo can be easily overclocked - the Tom's Hardware sample ran at a stable 3.46 GHz - instead of the regular 2.93 GHz. Performance jumps drastically in some scenarios: For example, the chip breaks the 3000-point barrier in the CPU test of 3DMark06 for the very first time, approaches 9000 points in the CPU test of PCMark05 and almost 32,000 points in the SiSoft Sandra 2007 CPU Test - 58% more than AMD's fastest processor at 2.8 GHz.

Especially interesting is the way how Intel achieves this new level of processor performance. Tom's Hardware found that its Conroe system consumed less power than a comparable AMD system and up to 30% less power than a Pentium EE 965-based computer. The 18% clockspeed increase of the overclocked version resulted in a relatively modest 7% increase in overall system power consumption.

AMD already announced that it will be reacting to Core 2 Duo - however there will not be a faster processor for now: AMD intends to drop the prices of its processors in order to maintain its price/performance leadership. And while the competition between AMD and Intel will be heating up over the next months and both firms will be busy making each other's lifes miserable, consumers will be benefitting from a time of true innovation. We can't wait for AMD to counter Intel's Core 2 Duo.