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Test notes
Testing Clarkdale meant we had to convert our test systems to motherboards with competing integrated graphics solutions. Fortunately, we were able to find a couple of good boards that allowed us to make a pretty direct comparison.


Asus' P5G43T-M Pro is one of the few G4x-based boards available that supports DDR3 memory, and it only costs $79. We were even able to run the DDR3 memory at 1333MHz for the discrete graphics tests, technically beyond what the board supports, although we had to drop it down to 1066MHz to achieve stability for IGP testing. Otherwise, this board gave us no problems and, as you'll see, pretty darned low power consumption results.


Not only does the MA785GMPT-UD2H from Gigabyte have a catchy name, but this Socket AM3 board supports DDR3 memory and has 128MB of 1333MHz SidePort memory onboard for use by its Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics.

One more thing to note. We've mentioned that we underclocked the Core i5-661 to 2.8GHz in order to simulate the Core i3-540's performance. Although we did change the core clock to the proper speed, the processor's uncore clock remained at the i5-661's stock frequency of 3.2GHz. We suspect shipping Core i3-540 processors may have a lower uncore clock (although Intel has made a habit of not documenting these things well). If so, our simulated processor may perform slightly better than the real item due to a higher L3 cache speed. The differences are likely to be very minor, based on our experience with Lynnfield parts—the L3 cache is incredibly fast, regardless—but we thought you should know about that possibility. As is our custom, we've omitted the simulated processor speed grade from our power consumption testing.

Finally, after consulting with our readers, we've decided to enable Windows' "Balanced" power profile for our desktop processor performance tests, which means power-saving features like SpeedStep and Cool'n'Quiet are operating. (In the past, we only enabled these features for power consumption testing.) Our spot checks demonstrated to us that, typically, there's no performance penalty for enabling these features on today's CPUs. If there is a real-world performance penalty to enabling these features, well, we think that's worthy of inclusion in our measurements, since the vast majority of desktop processors these days will spend their lives with these features enabled. We did disable these power management features to measure cache latencies, but otherwise, it was unnecessary to do so.

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of the scores produced.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Core 2 Duo E7600 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33 GHz
Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66 GHz
Core i5-750 2.66 GHz Core i3-540 3.06 GHz
Core i5-661 3.33 GHz
Core i7-920 2.66 GHz Athlon II X4 630 2.8 GHz
Phenom II X2 550 3.1 GHz
Phenom II X4 965 3.4 GHz
System bus 1066 MT/s
(266 MHz)
1333 MT/s
(333 MHz)
QPI 4.8 GT/s
(2.4 GHz)
QPI 6.4 GT/s
(3.2 GHz)
QPI 4.8 GT/s
(2.4 GHz)
HT 4.0 GT/s (2.0 GHz)
Motherboard Asus P5G43T-M Pro Asus P5G43T-M Pro Gigabyte P55A-UD6 Asus P7H57D-V EVO Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Gigabyte MA785G-UD2H
BIOS revision 0211 0211 F6 0401 F6 F5
North bridge G43 MCH G43 MCH P55 PCH H57 PCH X58 IOH 785GX
South bridge ICH10R ICH10R ICH10R SB750
Chipset drivers INF update 9.1.1.1020
Rapid Storage Technology 9.5.0.1037
INF update 9.1.1.1020
Rapid Storage Technology 9.5.0.1037
INF update 9.1.1.1020
Rapid Storage Technology 9.5.0.1037
INF update 9.1.1.1020
Rapid Storage Technology 9.5.0.1037
INF update 9.1.1.1020
Rapid Storage Technology 9.5.0.1037
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Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 6GB (3 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair
CM3X2G
1800C8D
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
CM3X2G
1800C8D
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
CM3X2G
1600C8D
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
CMD4GX3
M2A1600C8
DDR3 SDRAM
OCZ
OCZ3B
2133LV2G
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
CM3X2G
1600C9DHXNV
DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed (Effective) 1066 MHz 1333 MHz 1333 MHz 1333 MHz 1066 MHz 1333 MHz
CAS latency (CL) 7 8 8 8 7 8
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 7 8 8 8 7 8
RAS precharge (tRP) 7 8 8 8 7 8
Cycle time (tRAS) 20 20 20 20 20 20
Command rate 2T 2T 2T 2T 2T 2T
Audio Integrated
ICH10R/ ALC887 with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Integrated
ICH10R/ ALC887 with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Integrated
P55 PCH/ ALC889 with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Integrated
H57 PCH/ ALC889 with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Integrated
ICH10R/ ALC888 with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Integrated
SB750/ ALC889A with
Realtek 6.0.1.5995 drivers
Hard drive WD RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB SATA
Discrete graphics Asus ENGTX260 TOP SP216 (GeForce GTX 260) with ForceWare 195.62 drivers
Integrated graphics AMD 785G/Radeon HD 4200 with Catalyst 9.12 drivers
Intel G43/GMA X4500 with 8.15.10.1986 drivers
Intel Core i5-661 with 8.16.10.2008 drivers
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Edition RTM
OS updates DirectX August 2009 update
Power supply PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 Watt

I'd like to thank Asus, Corsair, Gigabyte, OCZ, and WD for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. Thanks to Intel and AMD for providing the processors, as well, of course.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1600x1200 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.