Power Consumption and Conclusions
With the amount of power draw in the desktop parts seemingly increasing without bound, its more important than ever to see what kind of power consumption the latest Intel processors are sucking up.
At idle, the Intel 660 processor uses 112 watts of power, less than the Athlon 64 4000+ and even the Intel 520 processor that runs at 2.8 GHz. On the flip side, at idle, the new Prescott-based 3.73 GHz XE is using 143 watts. Once we push the processors to a full load, the power on the 660 processor goes up to 207 watts while the 3.73 GHz XE uses 222 watts!
Let’s start this section with the Intel 660 processor: the 2 MB of L2 cache did make some minor performance increases in select benchmark applications, though the gains aren’t significant enough to really change the status of either Intel or AMD’s processor line. In the desktop application tests, both the 600 series and the Athlon 64 line are pretty much paired up on the standard usage programs, like office applications. Gaming is still a different story though as the Athon 64 is still the dominate platform for gaming enthusiasts.
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The new Extreme Edition processor running at 3.73 GHz is an interesting connundrum. In a similar situation to the initial Prescott release, we are finding that in some applications the new Prescott core is actually slower than the older Gallatin core XE CPUs. Other instances see a better than expected increase in performance, such as in DivX compression tests.
The new 600 series of processors is going to be offered in conjunction with the current 500 series of processors, so lets compare the prices of the new CPUs and the current ones to see how much the added performance is going to cost you.
The new Intel 660 processor is priced at $635, the Intel 560 is priced at $439 and the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ is at $425. From that quick look, you can see the new 600 series is a bit over priced for the performance that you get from it. Comparing it to the next higher Athlon 64, the 4000+ is at $655, a much more comparable price.
The launch of the Intel 600 series processors marks an important step in Intel’s changing feature set. It added 64-bit extension support, SpeedStep technology, No Execute Bit and another MB of L2 cache to increase performance. With the release of the Windows 64-bit operating system coming soon, 64-bit support is more important for the desktop line of processor than it ever has been. And as users become increaslingly aware and concerned with the heat and power usage of their systems, putting in support for the Intel SpeedStep helps add another notch to the Intel marketing belt. The same can be said of the No Execute Bit that was integrate as well. What is maybe more note worthy for the industry in general is that these same features are REactionary — AMD has had all of them in their processors for quite some time and actually was the one to push the need for them. Intel’s recent crow-eating on the processor field may not have affected its bottom line, but it has eaten away at the minds of PC enthusiats. The Intel 3.73 GHz Extreme Edition processor adds a few of the new features that the 600 series added, and also changed to the Prescott core. This actually causes as many problems as it solves.
If you aren’t interested in the politics behind who introduced what and why, then the Intel 600 series is a good processor choice for just about anyone except the hardcore gamer. The overall performance in nearly all applications is acceptable compared to the Athlon 64 line. The only area where the differences are noteable is in gaming situations, so you’re choice will depend on your personal preferences.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the new Intel processors, and anything else you may want to buy!