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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared 145

Posted by Zonk
from the edification-for-the-afternoon dept.
theraindog writes "Intel's Core 2 Duo is clearly the most attractive processor on the market, but which motherboard chipset is it best paired with? The Tech Report has rounded up four of the most common Core 2-compatible chipsets on the market to find out. The chipsets' features are compared and their performance is tested in a wide range of application, peripheral, and even power consumption tests. One emerges as a lemon, two as solid options, and the other as a clear winner." From the article: "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog, but most enthusiasts have seen the light and are looking at Core 2 for their next upgrade or system build. The prospect of a Core 2 system build can seem a bit daunting for enthusiasts who have spent years focused solely on the Athlon 64. Core 2 processors need new motherboards for those switching from the Athlon 64, and that requires navigating a whole new world of core logic chipsets. Since the Core 2 processor relies on the chipset for its memory controller, one's chipset choice can also have a much more profound impact on performance. "
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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared

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  • No bias there... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darlantan (130471) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:28PM (#16155479)
    "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog..."

    Gee, that doesn't sound like the author had an opinion up front. No sir.
  • Conclusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:32PM (#16155501) Homepage
    I'll save you the time of scrolling thru all 21 pages by skipping right to the conclusion...
    The Intel P965 Express chipset's mix of features, performance, and power consumption make it the perfect partner for Intel's new Core 2 processor and our Editor's Choice. Really, it's an easy call to make.
  • Fanboys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colonslashslash (762464) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#16155563) Homepage
    "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog, but most enthusiasts have seen the light and are looking at Core 2 for their next upgrade or system build.


    Yes, 'fanboys' ... or maybe alot of people on AMD64 systems at the moment don't *need* to upgrade, can't afford to upgrade, don't want to have to change motherboards and RAM as well as a CPU, sacrifice their nVidia SLI setups etc etc.

    Just because I'm not rushing out to buy a Core 2 Duo system to replace or upgrade, and instead 'cling' to my AMD64 system, it doesn't make me an AMD fanboy. Core 2 Duo is looking like a fucking superb processor family, but I think I'lll get a bit more life out of my current system before diving into a complete upgrade / replacement of my current hardware thank you.

    As a side note; does anyone have any info on what AMD are planning, if anything, to compete against the Core 2 Duo in the near future? I read something a while back about them switching to 65nm at a new fab, but I don't follow the processor market that closely anymore.

  • by romrunning (963198) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#16155568)
    In virtually all MB reviews with the same chipset, they are usually all within 5-7% of each other in the benchmarks. This usually doesn't translate into meaningful "sitting in front of the keyboard" performance differences. It's like horsepower in cars - it's hard to tell 195hp from 205hp when you're behind the wheel. (and yes, I like to compare apples to oranges...)
  • by Visaris (553352) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:40PM (#16155583) Journal
    Quite correct.

    What ever happened to evauating the performance of a chip based on the actual application that is going to be run? I can honestly tell you right now that almost every application that is memory bandwidth limited is going to perform better on an AMD K8 chip than Core2/conroe. The K8's integrated memory controller supports much better memory throughput.

    I suppose it is out of style to recognize the good and bad charictaristics of each offering. The current trend is to call one the all around "winner" and call everyone else a fanboy..
  • by dnamaners (770001) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:40PM (#16155585) Journal
    "Intel's Core 2 Duo is clearly the most attractive processor on the market..." That quote sums it up, Its An Intel-Fanboy article.

    That said, I still lean AMD. If Intel lowers the cost on these chips and AMD stays where they are Intel will really have a lead. They certainly have a good product now. However, Once you add the and chips and boards to the basket (by new egg prices) the Intel solution is easily $100-200 more expensive when comparing equivalent power (especially budget) processors. Its not much but in the under $1000 basic box range thats significant.

    However, even if AMD gets $200 more expensive per set ill stay with it for my servers. They have treated me way too well to dump over chump change. Intel will have to be better, cheaper and keep the edge for quite some time before I jump ship.
  • by Aardpig (622459) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:45PM (#16155623)

    and they support DMA on only memory addressable with a 32 bit pointer.

    Indeed. Hence the software bounce buffer in Linux, to make up for the lack of an IOMMU. And while I'm extremely pleased with my recently-purchased E2700 Core 2 Duo box, I wonder how well the Core architecture will fare in quad/oct-core land, with it's memory access issues. The lack of both IOMMU and (more fundamentally) a per-core or per-die memory controller seriously hampers Core's ability to scale.

  • Context matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EconolineCrush (659729) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:47PM (#16155639)
    "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog, but most enthusiasts have seen the light and are looking at Core 2 for their next upgrade or system build." Nowhere does it say when that next upgrade or system build has to come, or that anyone needs to upgrade from AMD64.
  • by Frobozz0 (247160) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:50PM (#16155675)
    For gaming, which requires the most performance, AMD is soundly beaten. Period. That doesn't mean they won't come out with something to one-up Intel in the future, but right now only a fanboy would recommend AMD if performance is the number one criteria.

    If you move away from performance as the only criteria, I think AMD competes well with the cost-to-dollar performance. HOWEVER, if you are willing to overclock, even the sub-$200 Core 2 Duo will outperform any desktop AMD chip you can buy-- at any price.

    It's not a matter of fanboy-ism. It's a matter of numbers. Right now Intel wins on performance. That's just a fact. However, AMD could very well get back into the mix and make this argument mute in the near future.
  • Barcelona / K8L (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Visaris (553352) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:54PM (#16155709) Journal
    As a side note; does anyone have any info on what AMD are planning, if anything, to compete against the Core 2 Duo in the near future? I read something a while back about them switching to 65nm at a new fab, but I don't follow the processor market that closely anymore.

    AMD has a couple of interesting products comming out:

    - First is 4x4, comming out in 4Q2006. This is essentially a dual-socket platform designed for the high-end desktop and low-end workstation/server market. This isn't a product for everyone, but it will make for a very price attractive dual-socket workstation. To start with, it will support two dual-core chips for a total of four cores. AMD has stated that later, when they release quad-core chips, 4x4 will support two of them for a total of eight cores. It's a niche market, but a neat idea.

    - Second, AMD is releasing a new core in 2Q2007. This core has double the number of FP (floating point) pipelines, double the L1 cache bandwidth, larger reorder buffers, a L3 cache, and will come in dual and quad-core versions. This chip is going to be a beast, and will be supported in any current socket AM2 mother board. For more, read this: HardOCP [hardocp.com], HardOCP [hardocp.com]. This new core is the direct answer to Core2/conroe, and I expect it to be a good one. It looks really good on paper, and after seeing AMD's delivery of K8, I expect the new core to live up to the hype.
  • by piggydoggy (804252) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16155897)
    Why do the new Intel chipsets have just one P-ATA channel, if any at all? It is ridiculous. 95% of all optical drives are P-ATA, and P-ATA hard drives as of yet are just as fast, if not faster thanks to more mature drivers and technology, than their SATA counterparts. What do they expect people with 2+ perfectly fine last-generation PATA hard drives to do when upgrading to Core 2 Duo? Getting a separate PCI controller (as PCI-E x1 ones are still rare) to already expensive C2D motherboards with just 2 PCI slots, both of which a person could have a much better use for?
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:20PM (#16155942) Homepage

    I can't understand why Nvidia would drop a unique feature like hardware TCP/IP acceleration.

    Because unless you're running a server with gigabit Ethernet at high utilization, it won't noticeably help performance. For an "enthusiast PC" out on a DSL line, you'll never notice.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:33PM (#16156611) Homepage Journal
    The worst parts about these fights is that it's millions of words in thousands of forms and blogs over what amounts to a 2% performance difference. BFD.
  • Re:Fanboys (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:42PM (#16156677)
    Yes, 'fanboys' ... or maybe alot of people on P4 NetBurst systems at the moment don't *need* to upgrade, can't afford to upgrade, don't want to have to change motherboards and RAM as well as a CPU, sacrifice their Rambus RDRAM setups etc etc.

    Just because I'm not rushing out to buy a AMD64 system to replace or upgrade, and instead 'cling' to my P4 NetBurst system, it doesn't make me an Intel fanboy. AMD64 is looking like it royally fucking owns my processor family, but I think I'lll get a bit more life out of my current system before diving into a complete upgrade / replacement of my current hardware thank you.

    Come on, where's my mod points? Oh, it doesn't work that way? My bad.
  • by Agripa (139780) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @06:14PM (#16157383)
    The DMA 32 bit addressing limitations are mostly a function of the memory controller and various expansion devices including some poorly designed or tested PCI cards. Because of the K8's built in memory controller, AMD was in a position to ameliorate this problem to some extent through use of the GART as a limited IOMMU in a standardized way. Intel would have had to build this functionality into its north bridge memory controllers which would have made universal support very difficult never mind third party north bridge support.

    Google "iommu AMD gart" or "iommu Intel gart" for more details.
  • by MojoStan (776183) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @06:27PM (#16157446)
    Why do the new Intel chipsets have just one P-ATA channel, if any at all?
    Probably because serial ATA does have performance/connection advantages over parallel ATA, and the new Intel chipsets (965 series) are the fourth generation of Intel chipsets to support SATA (865/875 chipsets were released in May 2003). Intel thinks it's about time, and I think they might be right.

    It is ridiculous. 95% of all optical drives are P-ATA...
    I think around 95% of all motherboards using the new Intel chipsets have at least one PATA channel.

    ...and P-ATA hard drives as of yet are just as fast, if not faster thanks to more mature drivers and technology, than their SATA counterparts.
    Did you see/compare TFA's SATA [techreport.com] and PATA [techreport.com] benchmarks for single hard drive performance? This is a limited set of tests (HD Tach 8MB zone setting), but the best SATA performance (using NCQ) was significantly better than the best PATA performance in each test. They didn't compare RAID performance, but I think SATA would look even better with its higher bandwidth (which might actually be utilized with multi-drive RAID) and NCQ.

    What do they expect people with 2+ perfectly fine last-generation PATA hard drives to do when upgrading to Core 2 Duo?
    I could be wrong, but I think a very small percentage of Core 2 Duo buyers will want to move their old parallel ATA hard drives to their next PC (especially as a primary hard drive), but those that do can still use one on the single PATA channel (if they're not using two PATA optical drives). If your computer is three years old or less, you probably shouldn't have been buying large PATA hard drives. Since SATA arrived more than three years ago, I think we should have assumed that the primary hard drive in our late-2006 computers would be SATA. I'll probably use my current 120GB PATA primary hard drive as a secondary hard drive in my next system.

    Even without the performance advantages, SATA connectors/cables are a heck of a lot more convenient. Modern motherboards have four to six little SATA ports with no master/slave nonsense. The cables/connectors (including power) are so much thinner, easier to work with, and less likely to get loose. Haven't you ever had a boot problem from a bad PATA or power connection to your hard drive (like I have)?

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