Conroe puts Intel back on top

Conroe puts Intel back on top

Summary: A $180 Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU can outperform an AMD Athlon FX-62 (which costs $1,059). Not only that, but it thrashes the Intel Extreme Edition 965 too. At that end of the Conroe scale, the performance differences are small (but not when you factor in the price), but take it to the other end of the scale, the Core 2 Extreme X6800 has everything eating it's dust.

TOPICS: Processors

A few weeks ago I blogged a couple of times about the Intel Conroe CPU, and how it seemed that this CPU was going to be At a stroke, every other desktop CPU is, from a performance perspective, now obsoleteable to beat anything that AMD currently had (and are likely to have for some time to come).  While some people believed the results of the independent tests at face value, others expressed doubt.  After all these tests were carried out on pre-production models, which could made the test unsound and unfair.  The tests were posted by forum members hiding behind fake names and avatars.  These chips might never come out.  The results could have been doctored.  Who knows what AMD might have by then ... there was a long list of doubts.

Well, now that the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) preventing disclosure of data on Conroe has come to an end, we can now see the results of more open testing (here's some more, thanks to AnandTech and this one on Tom's Hardware).  There's also a test of a pre-built system making use of the Conroe X6800 CPU - a monster system!

The verdict - A $180 Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU can outperform an AMD Athlon FX-62 (which costs $1,059).  Not only that, but it thrashes the Intel Extreme Edition 965 too.  At that end of the Conroe scale, the performance differences are small (but not when you factor in the price), but take it to the other end of the scale, the Core 2 Extreme X6800 has everything eating it's dust.

This is exciting for a number of reasons:

  • The era of powerful, cheap and low-power consumer CPUs is now here
  • At a stroke, every other desktop CPU is, from a performance perspective, now obsolete
  • AMD is no longer the king when it comes to gaming, a position where it has been traditionally very strong and this will see a huge market shift
  • Prices of other CPUs (both Intel and AMD) will come crashing down (in fact, I agree with George Ou when he says that AMD might have to slash the prices of the FX-62 by around 70% in order to be able to compete)

Everyone's a winner ... well, except for AMD.  Their stock price has nearly halved since Intel announced the Core2 line in March (although the previous highs do seem more like a blip), and things don't look like they are going to get better for some time to come.

Over the next couple of months I expect to see the number of AMD-based systems stocked by OEMs to shrink as a response to this.  Come the end of July, it's just not going to make any sense to buy an AMD-based desktop PC.  Between now and Conroe release, it doesn't make sense to buy anything, because, whether you're going to buy  AMD or Intel, prices are going to change dramatically over the next couple of weeks. 

Exciting times!

Topic: Processors

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  • 70% may not be enough

    If the E6400 is competitive with the FX-62 and since it runs cooler as well, the FX-62 would have to be priced below the E6400 to be truly competive. That's closer to an 80% price drop. Ouch!
    • The AMD magic wand of marketing ...

      ... is going to be working overtime now.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • One of the AMD VPs told a friend of mine they will not cut FX-62

        I'm not sure if that's just posturing or if that VP knew what he was talking about. I can't see anyone willing to pay more than the cost of a Conroe E6400 2.13 GHz CPU at $224. This even ignores the fact that the E6400 runs a lot cooler on less power and it probably has a LOT more overclocking potential.
        • Get real with it...

          The choice of processor depends on a whole lot of other factors than just the raw price and the performance. There are plenty of factors such as socket/mobo compatibility, memory guys know all this stuff...don't play dumb. The overall cost may end up not being lower since AMD has had better socket compatibility, etc. the past few years. And we'll see if Conroe holds up in production usage.
          • AMD just changed to a new socket with the FX-62

            Did you forget the AM2? Intel Conroes will actually work in existing motherboards. The FX-62 required a brand new motherboard and socket.

            As for memory options, the AM2-based AMD FX-62 requires just as fast memory as the Intel Conroes. No one is "playing dumb".
          • FX-62 isn't the mainline CPU...

            FX-62 is the enthusiast version, to wring every drop of performance out. Those who would buy it are the crowd who will pay out extra for top of the line video cards, etc. There's not as much emphasis in that niche on compatibility...more on wringing out the perf. The main line of X2s is more what you should be talking about. Yes, the AM2 will be a change, but after about 3 years. AMD has stuck with the 939 alot longer than Intel has stuck with its sockets. Everyone changes the socket at some point. Intel does it more often.
          • People don't buy CPUs based on price and performance?

            What then? Aesthetic design? Socket compatibility only applies to people upgrading, which accounts for a small percentage of sales.

            All evidence points to Intel swamping the market with the Conroe ... I can't see there being shortage. I guess we'll have to wait and see there though.
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • Yes, but why?

            Why do most buy a whole new box? A large number don't know how to swap out the CPU, and wouldn't be comfortable to do so. But really, it is an artificial reason. Best Buy (or pick your service) could do it for you in 5-10 minutes. The issue is that sockets are not compatible enough to do so. If they had been more so, probably a fair number more upgrades would be done than currently are. Look at the large market that used to exist for overdrive CPUs.
          • Yeah, if the CPU was compatible with all LGA775 boards ...

            it might have been the ultimate upgrade!
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • The only thing....

      worse than reading the article, was reading you guys' feedback.
    • 80% drop on what?

      If they cut the price of a low-volume chip by 80%, it's a blip on the radar. The FX-62 was a boutique chip mostly sold for bragging rights, not a big contributor to their profits.
      Tsu Dho Nimh
      • It'll be interesting to see ...

        I don't see the FX-62 getting any price cut just yet.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Geez!!!

    You "analysts" are waaay overreacting. Pricing is important...but you make it sound like AMD is not going to be able to move any systems. OEMs will not be stocking them? Please. Sure, Conroe is now the benchmark leader, but who's sitting at their desk with a stopwatch caring about timings that are imperceptible? Ya really gotta wonder how many of you don't own INTC that's been under water for a while...and hoping to manufacture a big upward spike.
    • OK then ...

      ... list three reasons to buy an AMD desktop system over a Conroe based desktop system? If it's not about power and performance, what is it?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Ok, that's an easy one.

        1. Personal preference to AMD.
        2.Just to spite Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.
        3. Because I can.

        There. Now where's my cookie?
        • Well there you go then ...

          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • What? No cookie? Well, that's just Lame! Where's your buddy,...

            George at? Did he get tired of stroking you?
          • I thought we were having an intelligent conversation ...

            ... sorry for the misunderstanding.
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • Wow, you really ARE slow....

            do you still live with your mommy? Does she clean your face when you finish your gruel, or do you wait for the rain to wash it off?
      • How about fewer problems?

        Conroe is already showing FSB issues...and in general, Intel has a worse track record, e.g. FPU bug, etc.