Feature Articles

Q3 2006 CPU Performance Charts

Q3 2006 CPU Performance Charts



Price Performance Index & Closing Comments

Price Performance Index & Closing Comments

On this page, we find out which processor gives you the best price performance balance. For this, we surveyed online price comparison websites for a rough gauge on the current going price of the various processors. Surprisingly unlike graphics cards, we found most processors to be priced quite close to the suggested retail price listed by both AMD and Intel. We then used the composite performance index scores to derive the price performance index (which is then multiplied by 100 to give a reasonable figure) as illustrated in the table below. Higher values indicate more performance per dollar spent. Take note that the table has been arranged with reference to the highest composite performance index to the lowest and that we've chosen to use non energy-efficient models to give AMD some leeway in the price department:-

Processor Performance Index, Price and Price Performance Index
Processor Model Composite Performance Index Estimated Price (US$) Price Performance Index
Core 2 Extreme X6800 1.72 999 0.172
Core 2 Duo E6700 1.61 530 0.304
Core 2 Duo E6600 1.50 315 0.475
Athlon 64 FX-62 1.44 827 0.174
Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 1.33 403 0.329
Pentium XE 965 1.30 999 0.130
Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 1.29 301 0.428
Core 2 Duo E6300 1.26 180 0.702
Pentium D 960 1.22 340 0.359
Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 1.22 240 0.507
Pentium D 945 1.17 162 0.721
Pentium D 940 1.12 183 0.610
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 1.11 187 0.595
Pentium D 925 1.05 147 0.717
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 1.04 152 0.685
Pentium D 915 1.00 135 0.741

To visibly see which processor offers better value and at the same time maximizing performance, we decided to color code the price performance index in three distinct price categories (below US$200, US$200 - 400 and above US$400) and plotted it against our previous graph which is the raw composite performance index (that's matched against the Pentium D 915 baseline):-

As the legend dictates, red indicates price performance index of processors over US$400, while orange is reserved for processors of the US$200 to US$400 category and green for the most affordable class below US$200. Generally the sweet spot would be a processor whose price performance index and the composite performance index within the category are both high. Starting off with the sub US$200 green segment, the low-end Pentium D 915 may have the highest price performance index of all processors compared, but its performance is of the lowest rung. For those who are in a strict budget, a better option would be the Pentium D 945 which has the next best price performance index and a decent performance index increment. For the enthusiast on a budget, nothing beats the Core 2 Duo E6300, which fares pretty well on both indexes and has the lowest thermal and power envelopes. In fact, it might save you money in the long run to get a Core 2 Duo E6300 than any of the Pentium D chips if you leave your system on for long hours or 24/7 operation. At stock speeds, it's able to best some of the processors of the next price rang group and that's not even considering that it can overclock beyond that of the X6800 processor. It's no wonder that we gave it our Most Value For Money award in an earlier article.

Comparing within the US$200 to US$400 category of processors, the most notable offering is the Core 2 Duo E6600 processor with a high performance index and a reasonably good price performance index. Again couple the other aspects of the Core 2 series like thermals, power consumption and overclocking edge, the E6600 sticks out above the competition. In fact, it's one of the most value for money chips on the high-end side if you were to take into consideration of the above US$400 class processors and their indices.

Also notable from the graph and discussion above are processors that you might want to give a miss due to their sub par standings. These include quite a bit of the Athlon 64 dual-core series, the Pentium D940, 960 and Pentium XE 965. For all of these, there seems to be a better alternative highlighted earlier. However we remind you once again that our recommendations are quite generalized after much averaging of the workloads and results to obtain a single measure of comparison for each processor. This is useful if you are not sure what to choose, but if you have specific usage model(s), we urge you to compare the individual performance results for a more targeted outlook suiting your needs. Another catch to the price performance index is that this only takes into account of the processor's price and not of the platform. Intel's platforms tend to be a little pricier as opposed to those supporting AMD processors and a perfect example is the Intel P965 Express class motherboard. There are numerous variables on the motherboard aspect and the choices made are very much based on user preferences. Thus, this cannot be accurately accounted for in our article. Overall, this is our attempt at making sense of price and performance. It does not intend to be a tell-all definitive chart other factors like heat dissipation and power consumption were not considered, thus, these factors can tip the balance of the charts as well. The term performance in this chart basically means 'raw' performance and nothing more.

With that note, this brings us to the end of the article and we hope it has helped or would help you make more informed purchase decisions on your next processor upgrade as well as enlighten others on where their systems rank at the moment. Quad core processors are just around the corner and though it's not going mainstream soon, it would be interesting to see just how much smoother our computing experience can get. That will be the topic of next month, but until they become affordable, dual-core processors would be the workhorses of many for some time to come.