Mainstream Quad-Core CPU Performance Comparison

Looking back, quad-core processors have had quite the run already. Intel's first quad-core CPU, the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 was released almost three years ago, with the much more popular Q6600 following up months later at a rather steep $850. As you may recall it was quite the luxury then to have one of these at your disposal.

Today we find ourselves with very different and diversified offerings from both companies, that are not only cheaper but also significantly faster. Just take for example AMD's Phenom II X4 945 that can be purchased for as little as $170, not to mention Intel's most recent release, the Core i5 750, which is meant to crush its competitors offering top notch performance at the $199 price point.

With more powerful quad-core processors becoming mainstream, and with so many options currently available, we wanted to know which CPU provides users with the most value at under $300. That said, we won't just be evaluating the value of the individual processors, but also their accompanying platforms.

View: Mainstream Quad-Core CPU Performance Comparison

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zeke009 said,
It will be soon, the Core2 brand is being retired/phased out and replaced with the i5 and i7 8xx parts.

the remaining core 2 part ,would become Core i3 btw

Ci7 said,

you never heard of Core i5 7xx ,Core i7 8xx it is mainstream parts

Core i7 9xx is for tech enthusiast and the like

Of course I've heard of CoreiX, I just don't know anyone that has one.

Majesticmerc said,

Of course I've heard of CoreiX, I just don't know anyone that has one.

And where are you located?

I have made three trips to MicroCenter (Rockville twice, and Fairfax once) just since the i7 920 launched, and the bottom of the i7 line (at the time) was selling strongly; just not as strongly as Core 2 and its derivatives (from the Q9xxx down to E1200). However, the Core 2 and derivatives have been out for two years (the first i7 hasn't had it's one-year birthday yet).

E1200? The Celeron and Pentium Dual Core sublines (starting with the infamous E1200) are all based on the Core 2 architecture; the biggest differences between the various Core2 CPUs are in three areas - number of cores, on-die cache, and lack/presence of VT-x support.

Single-core x86 CPUs? Unless you want a netbook, you can forget it (the bottom-end Celeron today, the E1500, is a Celeron Dual Core; AMD retired their single-core CPUs last year). Quad-core basically went mainstream with the Q6600 (Kentsfield), and that was back in 2007! I can buy Q9550 *today* for the same price (and at the same store) that was selling Q6600 CPUs last year (MicroCenter in Rockville, MD -

However, it still takes time for multicore-aware applications to be developed, despite the low prices for quad-core CPUs today. Because of that lag, quad-core is in a conundrum as far as upgrade sales are concerned (new-PC upgrade sales for the past two years have basically been flat, and the only quad-core CPUs Apple has been buying have been XEONs; certainly not welcome news for Intel). Throw in that while operating systems (back to Windows 2000 and XP) readily support multicore today (and Vista, and now 7, supported 64-bit from launch out), multi-core application support (except for niche apps and some games) is rarer than 64-bit application support.

However, I think that 2010 is when multicore applications will finally go mainstream (if for no other reason than that is when Office 2010 64-bit is due to launch).

I'm in the UK. You've made my point though, it might be selling strong, but the Core 2 Quads are still selling stronger, which makes them mainstream. You only need to read this article's comments to see that.

Why don't they compare these new processors WITH THE Q6600, which is so popular? This comparison is useless if not for doing an upgrade. What world are they living in?

Luis Mazza said,
Why don't they compare these new processors WITH THE Q6600, which is so popular? This comparison is useless if not for doing an upgrade. What world are they living in?

Check the complete review at Anandtech, you will see the Q6600.

Bought a Q6600 2 years ago and I have no intention of upgrading anytime soon, with Windows 7 (even Vista) this thing is fast.

medium_pimpin said,
My Q6600 XPS is money with Vista. Hope it will be even better with Win7 64.

It will be.

Vista and 7 (in their 64-bit iterations) put both dual-core and quad-core CPUs to more effective use than XP64 (my own Celeron DC E1200 is proof of that). However, the operating system is only part of the story; the applications are the real *meat* of the usefulness (or lack thereof) of multicore hardware. Even the few mainstream 64-bit applications that are out there (or in beta, such as Office 2010) make only sparing use of multi-core (so far, other than PowerPoint, Access, and even Outlook, and in Outlook's case, only seldom, most of even 2010 x64 is still mostly single-core; Word and Publisher make no use of even a second CPU core, let alone two more such as in the Phenom quads and Q6xxx, let alone Q8xxx/9xxx).

That's largely why I haven't even purchased a quad-core myself, despite it being both affordable and a drop-in upgrade; most of the time, those two additional cores will be loafing!

I'm currently running an i7 920 on my main machine and a core 2 duo 3.0 on my media center.

The funny thing about computers these days, is unless you are gaming you can really settle for the cheapest stuff. It all runs windows great. Add to the fact memory these days is sooo cheap.

People these days really have no reason to upgrade until they are usuing a computer from 2004.

I recently purchased a Q9550. Runs 24/7 at 3.4 GHz. Nothing takes advantage of all that power now. I won't be upgrading for quite a while.

Running a Q6600 @ 3.5 ghz 24/7, runs win7 wonderfully fast and multitasking is great. I have no intentions of upgrading anything anytime soon other than perhaps a SSD when prices come down a little and perhaps throw in another 4 gb of RAM. The great thing is with a quad core it will become better overtime as more apps take advantage of multicore programing.

Good Read - Thanks!

FWIW, for a short while yet the best value IMHO is an AM2+ system, but as DDR2 RAM prices have been rising for a while, & with the new i5 out, may not last too much longer.

Plenty of decent M/boards in the $75 - $110 range (less if you can run M-ATX), AMD Phenom II black quad for $180 or less you can easily run at 3.4, & 4 GB DDR2 for $40 - $50. Tests haven't shown any earth shattering difference with DDR3 vs 2, & that's the only real difference going AM2+ vs. AMD's AM3 socket m/boards. If you watch for bundle deals & go for a slightly slower Phenom II (& up the multiplier), should be able to get about the same Phenom performance they benched for ~$250 total. That's a far cry from the cheapest i5 you could put together. ;-)

for those who have Q6600 its not worth to update. but for people like me, who have amd 64 3200 cpu, i guess core i5 would be a sweet deal

I wish I had taken more notice of the upcoming i5 and i7s when I was planning my upgrade, because now it makes my choice (Phenom II x4 955) look, if not ill-advised, then ill-thoughtout. It would probably have come out at a similiar cost, but maybe I could have got a slightly better system for it.

My Pentium D clocked at 3.6ghz still rocks. Play any game at max settings with it without any lag. Unzipping files is quick and so is converting/burning movies (700mb avi file to dvd in under 20 mins). I see no reason to upgrade.

Billus said,
My Pentium D clocked at 3.6ghz still rocks. Play any game at max settings with it without any lag. Unzipping files is quick and so is converting/burning movies (700mb avi file to dvd in under 20 mins). I see no reason to upgrade.

That's the point that's being made all over this thread.

I had originally bought my E1200 as a placeholder CPU (the motherboard itself, an M-ATX nForce 7100/630i-chipset based ASUS P5N-EM HDMI, will happily swallow darn near any LGA775 CPU, including all the LGA775 quads). However, despite actually playing more games than I did with my Northwood-C, I can't name so much as one game or applicatioon that I run today that truly begs for a quad-core. (And that includes Office 2010.) It's likely that the only reason I'd have for upgrading to a quad-core will be that I can't upgrade anything else (graphics and hard drives are the only non-CPU upgrades I have left, as I'm maxed out on RAM, and I'm running 7 x64 RTM right now). Optical drives? I have two DVD burners (one PATA and one SATA; the SATA DL burner replaced a PATA DL burner that failed), so I'm set there as well. BD burners are still too expensive for now and LightScribe (or lack thereof) is far from a dealmaker or dealbreaker (and even if it were, I'd more likely replace the still-strong PATA SL burner with a SATA DL LightScribe model for the same price I paid for the non-LightScribe SATA DL burner I have now).

i got my i7 920 a lil after it was realease and it was a lot but i have been so happy with it. i have to say, its nice to say i have an i7 to people who know about computesr because they will start asking u... how fast is it? do u like it a lot? can u send me screenshots?! and its nice to talk to them about my baby

Angel Blue01 said,
I won't be buying a quad-core until they're below $130. If its been 3 years, why is the price drop taking so long?

I've been waiting for the quad core prices to fall as well. Now with the Core i5 at $199 we should see some movement or else the fix is in.

Based on your phenomenal feedback, we have added benchmarks results for the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 to our mainstream CPU performance shootout published last Friday. While the original intention for this article was to compare the current outgoing platforms and CPUs in the mainstream price range (at least for us, enthusiasts), many of you pointed out that comparing against the old mainstream champion (Q6600) would give you the perfect information to evaluate a potential upgrade, so here you are...

For me, performance is secondary to power consumption. I've settled on an Intel Atom powered Acer Netbook for everyday use. It plays video's fine, which is probably the hardest work it gets.

I want a light small PC that does not require a noisy fan, preferably being able to dissipate the heat into the case, without getting unduly hot. I detest noisy fans, and in summer months hair drier wind tunnels!

Processors and PC manufacturers are at a fork in the road, and need to recognise chasing power numbers and massive cooling is going to have a limited market!

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