CPU Comparison Shopping

I’ve been slowly working towards putting together a new PC build to replace my current one, a Core 2 Duo- based system I built about three years ago, which is starting to show its age.  In the interest of comparison shopping, I put together a spreadsheet and some charts looking at the newer Intel (i5/i7) and AMD (Phenom X4/X6) processors.  Turns out that Intel’s Core i5-750 seems to be the best deal in processors for what I’m looking for in a system at the moment.

Raw Data

Clock speeds are in MHz, TDP in Watts, and cost is price in USD at newegg as of 5/3/2010.  Processors with SMT (hyperthreading) are noted in the Cores column.

Manufacturer Model Cores Clock TDP Cost
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 4 3200 125 159.99
AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE 4 3000 125 161.99
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 4 3400 125 180.99
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 6 3200 125 309.99
Intel Core i5-650 2 3200 73 184.99
Intel Core i5-661 2 3330 87 199.99
Intel Core i7-920 4 (SMT) 2660 130 279.99
Intel Core i7-930 4 (SMT) 2800 130 294.99
Intel Core i5-750 4 2660 95 199.99
Intel Core i7-860 4 (SMT) 2800 95 279.99

Performance Charts

I started by charting the benchmark scores for each processor in the table in Cinebench R10 and Crysis, using benchmark results from bit-tech.  The Crysis results are very limited since Bit-Tech’s benchmark settings varied.  I used 1680×1050, all settings on High, no AA or AF.

[Note: images are no longer on the server.  If anyone really wants them back up, I'll regenerate them, but otherwise I won't bother.  Let me know if you want them.]

Cinebench scoreCrysis scoreCost Comparison

Finally, I compared the benchmark results and cost, charting how each processor scored when the cost was divided by benchmark scores.

Cost / Cinebench scoreCost / Crysis scoreAnalysis

AMD’s processors generally offer better price-to-performance ratios, but Intel wins out in terms of raw performance (I didn’t include Intel’s 6-core processor here, so the 1090T still tops the charts, though).

Intel’s newer i5 and i7 cores performed noticeably better in Crysis, and perform better per-core in general.  Given the low cost-performance ratio and good raw performance numbers, the Core i5-750 seems to be the best choice for processors in my price range at the moment.  Even better, the TDP of the i5-750 is a full 30 Watts below that of the comparable AMD processors, all of which weigh in at 125 W.

The one factor that remains to be seen in this cost analysis is motherboards, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that costs for AM3 and LGA1156 boards are similar.

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