Intel Westmere 32nm Launch & Clarkdale Core i5-661 CPU Review

by MAC     |     January 3, 2010

IGP Gaming Benchmarks

In order to get an idea of how the new Intel HD Graphics IGP performs we decided to compare it to a few modern IGPs that are on the market today, namely the ATI HD 4200, Intel GMA X4500, and NVIDIA GeForce 9400. Just for fun, we also included the latest low-end discrete GPUs from ATI and NVIDIA in the form of a Radeon HD 4350 512MB and a GeForce 210 512MB, which will be tested on the Clarkdale platform itself.

Keep in mind that the Core i5-661 processor that we are using features the most high-end variant of the Intel HD GPU. It is clocked in at 900Mhz compared to 733Mhz for the other i3-500 series and i5-600 series models.

Although all the IGPs and GPUs are DirectX 10 capable, we decided to stick with good old DirectX 9, since otherwise performance would be a little too lackluster. Nevertheless, we aren't going to be testing some graphically lax 'casual' games, instead we are putting these graphical solutions through the ringer with some demanding benchmarking apps, first-person shooters, and real-time strategy games.

Futuremark 3DMark06

3DMark06 v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.

Well for starters, we can say that Intel have made huge strides over their previous generation IGP. In fact, the new Intel solution manages to go neck & neck with the GeForce 9400 IGP, which is effectively the desktop version of NVIDIA's popular ION chipset. The two discrete GPUs do outperform the new GMA HD IGP, but not by much considering their $40-50 price tag.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Entry Preset
Resolution: 1024X768

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.

In 3DMark Vantage the situation is reversed, with the Intel GMA HD IGP taking the lead by a healthy margin. For some reason AMD's popular 785G/HD 4200 IGP failed to load Vantage with the Catalyst 9.12 WHQL drivers.


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1280x1024
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Low
Global Settings: DX9 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Sphere benchmark - autotest demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.

Alas, we are still years away from being able to play Crysis on an IGP at a decent resolution. Nevertheless, the GMA HD IGP did put up some decent middle of the road numbers.

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1280x1024
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Low
Global Settings: DX9 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX9 mode at 1280x1024 with all settings set to low.

Once again the Intel GMA HD IGP lags behind the NVIDIA GeForce 9400 IGP, but not by much.

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead (Latest Update)
Resolution: 1280x1024
Filtering: 0X AA / 0X AF
Graphic Settings: Low
Shader Detail: Low
Test 1: HWC Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Left 4 Dead is the latest disorienting, fast-paced zombie apocalypse mega-hit from Valve. L4D uses the latest version of the Source engine with enhancements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation. We tested at 1280x1024 with in-game details set to low. For benching, we used a pre-recorded 20 minute timedemo taken on the No Mercy campaign during The Apartments mission.

Finally, the GMA HD IGP distinguishes itself by outperforming all the other IGPs. It's still a fair bit behind the lowest-end discrete GPUs, but at least it managed to play Left 4 Dead at a steady 30FPS.

World in Conflict

World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1280x1024
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Anisotropic Filtering: 0X
Graphic Settings: Low
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the detailed and most visually stunning real-time tactical games in recent history, World in Conflict remains a staple in our gaming lineup . For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.

Once again the GMA HD IGP performs worse than the discrete GPUs and the GeForce 9400 IGP, but it does continue to outclass the highly touted Radeon HD 4200 found the in the AMD 785G chipset.

Overall, Intel have managed to create one of the better IGPs on the market, but not by much, especially when you consider that our Core i5-661 model is clocked 23% than all the other Clarkdale Core i3 and i5 processors. The GMA HD IGP is perfectly capable of playing casual games like World of Warcraft and the SIMS at reasonable resolutions and with detail settings set to their lower options. Frankly though, if you fancy yourself any type of gamer, buy a discrete card. IGPs are for business computers and HTPCs, which is why we are going to test and compare the high definition video decoding capabilities of this integrated graphics processor.

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