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 3DMark 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.
Taking a look at the Core i5 661 in the group we have here gives us an interesting perspective on how well Intel has improved Hyper Threading and their CPU architecture in general. The i5 661 can hold its own as a dual core CPU with Hyper Threading, even when matched against other true quad core CPUs. It is true that it cannot keep up in all respects, but it does very well.
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.
Again we see the Core i5 661 do well when matched up against the rest of the field. It even beats out some of the higher end Intel Core i7 CPUs.