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Intel Westmere 32nm Launch & Clarkdale Core i5-661 CPU Review

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MAC

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Synthetic Benchmarks: CPU & Cache

Synthetic Benchmarks: CPU & Cache



Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. We selected two of Everest's seven CPU benchmarks: CPU Queen and FPU Mandel. According to Lavalys, CPU Queen simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. The FPU Mandel benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. Both tests consume less than 1 MB system memory, and are HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.

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This is not a bad first showing for the i5-661, coming a hair ahead of AMD's Phenom II X4 945, and a little bit behind the i5-750 in the CPU Queen benchmark. The FPU Mandel results are not quite as impressive though, and the Clarkdale chip falls a fair bit behind the proper quad-core models.


Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

As part of its enthusiast favourite Cache & Memory Benchmark, Everest provides very useful and in-depth cache performance figures. For this chart, we have combined the read, write, and copy bandwidth figures to achieve an aggregate bandwidth figure for each cache stage.

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These results are pretty much what we expected. The i5-661 and i7-870 effectively have the same cache bandwidth due to the fact that their L3 cache both runs at 2400Mhz, and they both clock up to 3.6Ghz during this test.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Synthetic Benchmarks: Memory

Synthetic Benchmarks: Memory



Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking utility provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system.

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As we predicted earlier in this article, the relocation of the integrated memory controller from the CPU die to the GPU die has had some serious impact on the overall memory bandwidth. Despite having a dual-channel DDR3-1333 memory interface, and a theoretical 21.2GB/s of memory bandwith, the Clarkdale chip has up to 75% lower bandwidth than the Lynnfield models. Having said that, it still has better overall memory bandwidth than any of the non-Nehalem-based chips. But will this bandwidth shortage hamper it in real-life applications? We will find out shortly.


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If you thought the bandwidth numbers looked bad, the memory latency is downright atrocious. The i5-661 posted worst latency numbers than the Core 2 processors, which have their memory controller on the northbridge and have to communicate through the ancient front-side bus.


Will ScienceMark 2.0 paint a different picture? Let's find out.

ScienceMark v2.0

Although last updated almost 3 years ago, and despite its rudimentary interface, ScienceMark v2.0 remains a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.

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In a fluke for the ages, our Everest and ScienceMark bandwidth results were exactly the same for the i5-661, which never happens with these two benchmarks. The results still weren't good though, with the Clarkdale chip seriously lagging behind the Lynnfield and Bloomfield processors.

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While the i5-661's ScienceMark memory latency figure is not quite as bleak as the one we achieved in Everest, it is still approximately 70% higher than what we are used to seeing from a Nehalem-based chip. Obviously having the IMC off-die was a costly decision when it comes to the memory sub-system's performance. But as previously discussed, it's a necessary evil for the good of the integrated graphics processor.

Although the i5-661 hobbled its way through the memory benchmarks, these are still just synthetic numbers. The real-life applications and games are what count. Let's check those out next.
 

MAC

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System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / Cinebench R10

System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / Cinebench R10



SuperPi Mod v1.5

When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

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Do we have a new challenger to the stock clock SPi 32M crown? Almost, but not quite. Both the i5-661 and i7-870 Turbo Boost up to 3.59Ghz during this workload, but the Clarkdale chip is hurt by its very high latency and lesser memory bandwidth. Despite these limitations, you can expect to see Clarkdale chips set new SuperPI 32M world records in the coming weeks due to the very high overclocking potential of the 32nm Westmere core.

Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders

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The Cinebench results are as expected, and it partly comes down to Turbo Boost. In the single-threaded test, the i5-661 and i7-870 are once again neck-and-neck because they can run up to 3.6Ghz during this workload. On the other hand, the Clarkdale chip does fall a bit behind the true quad-core processors in the multi-threaded benchmark. Having said that, it still manages to outperform the venerable Q6600, and by an a solid 15%. Not too shabby for a dual-core chip with a little Hyper-Threading tacked on. The $196 i5-661 can't touch the identically-priced i5-750 in the multi-threading performance though, which doesn't necessarily bode when we start looking for the best Bang for the Buck.
 

MAC

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System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / HDxPRT

System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / HDxPRT



PCMark Vantage x64


PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.0.0)
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score

The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding, Video transcoding, Text editing, Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.


chart-9.jpg

In PCMark Vantage, the two Lynnfield chips put up a very strong showing, but the i5-661 does quite well in its own right by keeping up with the Core i7 920 setup.


HDxPRT 2009



HDxPRT 2009, otherwise known as the Intel High Definition Experience and Performance Ratings Test 2009, is a new platform evaluation tool for measuring digital media experience. HDxPRT evaluates the capabilities of a media PC using real world usage scenarios and popular media applications. The benchmark's results are illustrated in the Create HD Score, which represents the overall digital media creation performance of a test system.

HDxPRT 2009 workloads are based on usages performed with popular programs, like: i. DivX encoder to create videos for YouTube, ii. MainConcept H.264 encoder to create videos for Blu-ray discs, iii. Sorenson Squeeze 5 for Flash videos, iv. Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for Photo editing v. Apple iTunes to convert music for portable media players vi. Cyberlink PowerDVD 8 and Windows Media Player to play H.264 videos vii. On2 Flix 8 Player and Windows Media Player to play Flash videos.


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Once again, the i5-661 proves to be a very competent performer in every day apps, which feature a mix of single and multi-threaded workloads. With its very high default clock speed and Turbo Boost capabilities, the dual-core/four-thread design is proving to be a solid choice for the mainstream crowd.
 

MAC

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Messages
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Location
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System Benchmarks: Photoshop CS4 / Lame Front End

System Benchmarks: Photoshop CS4 / Lame Front End



Photoshop CS4

For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 15 results to reach the final figure.

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Proving to be not much more than a dual-threaded worload, the Photoshop CS4 benchmark allows the Core i5-661 to surpass all but the i7-870.

Lame Front End

Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to gauge a processor's single-threaded performance as well as test any turbo feature that it might have. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

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As a single-threaded app, LFE allows the i5-661 and i7-870 to utilize their 3.6Ghz Turbo Boost capabilities and thus destroy the rest of competition.
 

MAC

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Location
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System Benchmarks: x264 HD / WinRAR

System Benchmarks: x264 HD / WinRAR



x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.


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This is a purely multi-threaded workload, so it's no suprise to see the i5-661 fall behind the higher-end quad-cores. It is still consistently faster than the Q6600 though, which is at 3 years old is starting to shows its age.


WinRAR


WinRAR 3.8.0
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


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Another highly multi-threaded application, WinRAR makes good use of all of all additional cores and Hyper-Threading. However, this is a very memory intensive workload, and that is the one weakness of the the crippled i5-661.
 

MAC

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Location
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Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage

Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage



Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.


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The i5-661 stays about neck & neck with the Q9550, which is fairly impressive considering the fact that the Clarkdale chip is a good deal cheaper than the venerable Core 2 Quad model.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


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The Vantage engines makes pretty good use of all available threads, so the i5-661 manages to rank in the middle of the pack, but still falls behind all the proper quad-core chips except for the ancient Q6600.
 

MAC

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Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Far Cry 2

Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Far Cry 2



Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.


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At these real-world settings, in a game as graphically demanding as Crysis, the processor just doesn't matter all that much. Although the Lynnfield chips achieve impressive results, even a lowly dual-core E8400 is within 2FPS of the mighty i7-975.


Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Very High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings set to very high.


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Far Cry's Dunia engine has always performed exceptionally well on Phenom II processors, and it seems to love the i5-661 as well. Although not a mistake, this result does obviously seem a little bit off to us given the sizeable performance difference the between the Clarkdale and Lynnfield chips. It is likely just one of those odd benchmarking quirks.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
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Gaming Benchmarks: Particle Simulation / Street Fighter 4

Gaming Benchmarks: Particle Simulation / Street Fighter 4



Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Default
Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.


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Clearly, game engines can be made to work very well on these dual-core/four-thread CPU design and this benchmark is one of example of this. We wouldn't have originally guessed that the i5-661 could outclass solid performers like the Q9550 and X4 945.


Street Fighter 4


Street Fighter 4 Demo
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Graphic Settings: High
Test 1: Built-in Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Street Fighter IV is a 2008 arcade game produced by famous developer Capcom, that has finally been released on the PC platform. This game has not been 'ported' since the Street Fighter IV arcade machines actually have PC internals, with circa 2005 components. As a result, the version of the game released on the PC is considered the definitive version. With fully multi-threaded engine and an astounding hybrid 2D/3D graphics style, this game is sure to please all fans of the Street Fighter series.


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This is a good example of a game that is multi-threaded, but only up to 4 threads. As you can see, the i5-661 is doing a great job at mimicking at proper quad-core chip's performance in this benchmark.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: Supreme Commander / WiC

Gaming Benchmarks: Supreme Commander / World in Conflict



Supreme Commander


Supreme Commander v1.1.3280
Graphic Settings: High
Resolution: 168X1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Fidelity Presets: High (All)

Test: SupComMark
Comparison: Average FPS.

While not frequently found in many mainstream hardware reviews, we felt it beneficial to bring the unique style of Supreme Commander to our benchmark suite. Upon release, SupCom was heralded for packing an extreme punch when it came to CPU requirements, so much so, that many people recommended not even running it without a dual core CPU. The Moho Engine, developed by Gas Powered Games is unique in the fact that it was one of the first and continues to be one of the few that is designed with true out of the box multi threading capabilities. This allows the game to divide up tasks such as AI Calculations, Rendering, Sound, Drivers and others to separate CPU cores, resulting in far better utilization of multi-core system and a more accurate assessment of CPU performance for multi threaded gaming.


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Although it is multi-threaded, Supreme Commander can only utilize 4 threads. As a result of this, and our relatively high graphical settings, the field is evened out among the four-thread-capable processor. The i5-661 proves to be every bit as capable as its Bloomfield and Lynnfield brethren in this benchmark.


World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


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Another solid result from the i5-661, smack dab in the middle of the Phenom II X4 945 and Core 2 Quad Q9550.
 
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