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Intel’s 32nm Clarkdale – Nehalem for Everyone
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by Rob Williams on January 3, 2010 in Intel Processors

To help kick 2010 off right, Intel has filled out the rest of its current-gen processor line-up with the help of Westmere. We’re taking a look at the desktop variant here, which brings a lot to the table compared to the previous generation. For those who’ve been holding out for that next affordable PC upgrade, the wait has been worth it.

Power Consumption

It goes without saying that power efficiency is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds today, and for good reason. Whether you are trying to save money or the environment – or both – it’s good to know just how much effort certain vendors are putting into their products to help them excel in this area. Both AMD and Intel have worked hard to develop efficient chips, and that’s evident with each new launch. The CPUs are getting faster, and use less power, and hopefully things will stay that way.

To help see what kind of wattage a given processor draws on average, we use a Kill-A-Watt that’s plugged into a power bar that’s in turn plugged into one of the wall sockets, with the test system plugged directly into that. The monitor and other components are plugged into the other socket and is not connected to the Kill-A-Watt. For our system specifications, please refer to our methodology page.

To test, the computer is first boot up and left to sit at idle for five minutes, at which point the current wattage is recorded if stable. To test for full CPU load, LinX is run with 2560MB memory usage for a total of five minutes. During that run, the highest point the wattage reaches on the meter is captured and becomes our “Max Load”.

Throughout all of our tests so far, Clarkdale has proven to be in a unique class. Compared to all other dual-core CPUs, it’s extremely fast, and showcases gains of between 10 – 35% on average. Of course, being built on a 32nm process, along with its architecture upgrades, we could assume that the Core i5-661 will also excel where power consumption is concerned, and we’re spot on with that… just look at the results.

Because all of our other configurations were tested with a discrete graphics card, I included two sets of results here. One has the GPU installed (Radeon HD 4870), and the other without, so the IGP steps up to the plate. With or without the discrete card, the i5-661 turns out to be the most power efficient of the entire bunch. It’s idle power draw doesn’t change much from its closest competitors, but the only CPU to come close to its low load is AMD’s budget 240e dual-core.