CPU Guide

Intel Core 2 (Conroe): Thermal & Power Analyzed

Intel Core 2 (Conroe): Thermal & Power Analyzed


Introduction & Test Setup

Introduction

Following our Core 2 (Conroe) Performance Review , we ended with a note to stay tuned to our follow-up articles and here's the first of a few in the lineup. In this article, we'll be investigating the heat output and power consumption of the highly hyped Intel Core 2 processors. Although we've already talked about the characteristics of these processors, lets make a very quick recap to bring forth some pointers to mind.

The Core 2 Duo and Extreme processors are based on the new Core microarchitecture that Intel has been baiting the press for the past half-year, but has only been officially launched today. Its design borrows several key elements that have made the Pentium M and the Core Duo processors such a hit on the mobile market. These mobile processors deliver good performance at low power and have had Intel thinking a long while to give up their prized Netburst architecture used on all Intel desktop processors since the first Pentium 4 (sans the Core 2 of course).

Intel thus based their next-generation desktop processor design on the existing Core Duo, but made several enhancements to differentiate and gear it towards the desktop user environment. With the Core architecture's lean and mean execution pipeline, vastly greater instruction processing throughput, better and intelligent data prefetch capability along with a large shared cache design for both processing cores, the Core 2 Duo and Extreme processors could crunch far more instructions per clock cycle and do it efficiently as well. Also borrowing the clock-gating mechanisms and other power management techniques off their mobile processors, the Core 2 Duo is able to keep power envelopes and heat output that's almost approaching that of the mobile department. In all, the Core 2 Duo seems quite the desktop processor that most could have only dreamed about just months ago. We've shown you the processor's monstrous performance, but to prove and convince you of its other aspects, we have concrete evidence gathered from our lab for your reading pleasure.

Test Setup

We enrolled all the Core 2 (Conroe-based) processors, which consist of the Core 2 Extreme X6800, Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Duo E6600. Apart from the Core 2 family, we've also got two other excellent comparison CPUs and they are none other than the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 processor and the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62. These are the same bunch of processors that we've compared in the performance review where we saw the Core 2 Duo and Extreme processors firmly planting their flag in every test we threw at it. Thus the system configuration remained the same as before, but just for the record, here they are:-

Intel Core 2 Configuration

  • Intel Desktop Board D975XBX (Intel 975X Express chipset)
  • Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, Core 2 Duo E6700 and E6600
  • Thermaltake Mini Typhoon CPU cooler
  • 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 non-ECC memory modules (CAS 4. 4-4-12)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA Detonator XP 84.21
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • AcBel 500W LCD Power Supply

Intel Pentium XE Configuration

  • ASUS P5WD2-E Premium (Intel 975X Express chipset)
  • Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 965 (with Hyper-Threading)
  • Thermaltake Mini Typhoon CPU cooler
  • 2 x 512MB Kingston HyperX DDR2-667 non-ECC memory modules (CAS 4. 4-4-10)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA Detonator XP 84.21
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • AcBel 500W LCD Power Supply

AMD Athlon 64 FX Configuration

  • ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe (nForce 590 SLI chipset)
  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-62
  • Thermaltake Mini Typhoon CPU cooler
  • 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 non-ECC memory modules (CAS 4, 4-4-12)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA Detonator XP 84.21
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • AcBel 500W LCD Power Supply

In addition to these components used on the three platforms, they were also attached to an old secondary 5400RPM Western Digital data hard drive, a Ricoh DVD Rewriter optical drive and most importantly, an AcBel 500W LCD power supply unit. This PSU comes with a front panel bay device, which reports several crucial aspects such as power consumption among many others. In this article, we've made full use of it to relay our platform power consumption findings in three scenarios. Temperatures were measured off our thermal probe, but we also used third-party programs to obtain feedback of each processor's on-die thermal temperature.

Before we spill the beans, take note of the below CPU-Z screenshot for the Core 2 Extreme X6800 whose idle clock speed drops to a mere 1.6GHz. The same applies for all other Core 2 processors as well since they fall back to the lowest 6x multiplier supported on these CPUs.