With any system you will want to see a combination of synthetic testing and real-world. Synthetics give you a static, easily repeatable testing method that can be compared across multiple platforms. For our synthetic tests we use Everest Ultimate, Sisoft Sandra, Futuremark's 3D Mark Vantage and PCMark Vantage, Cinebench as well as HyperPi. Each of these covers a different aspect of performance or a different angle of a certain type of performance.
CPU Raw Performance
For CPU Raw Performance we want to look at the theoretical performance numbers. This means how many GigaFlops you can get, how many megapixels etc. We also test for memory bandwidth. As memory controllers are moved onto the CPU and away from the Northbridge we see memory performance increasing but also becoming much more CPU dependent than mainboard dependent.
To test memory and Raw CPU performance we use a combination of Sisoft Sandra and HyperPi 0.99.
First off in Sandra we can see that the CPU doesn't lack too much behind the Phenom II - the extra cache loss doesn't hamper things much.
When we overclock the CPU to 3.9 GHz, it is able to beat the stock Phenom II results quite impressively as well as the Phenom II's overclocked results, which we only managed 3.6 GHz.
It seems that the extra cache on the Phenom II can hamper overclocking.
HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length. For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 (four total on the PII x4 955 and Core i5) is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy, and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.
Into HyperPI and the Athlon II scores surprisingly well. Core 2 Duo E8500 still leads this even though it only hit 3.7 GHz; its superior architecture helped it win.