Our Summary & Conclusion
Benchmark Summary: The new Pentium Extreme Edition 965XE was the fastest Intel-built CPU we have tested in all but one of the benchmarks (Office XP SP2), where the single-core 3.73GHz XE held onto a minor, few second lead. Overall though, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and Athlon 64 FX-60 were still somewhat faster than the 965XE. The synthetic benchmarks, 3D rendering tests, and audio encoding tests favored the Pentium Extreme Edition 965, while most of the gaming tests, content creation and desktop application benchmarks, as well as the video encoding tests, ran best on the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and FX-60.
The Pentium Extreme Edition 965 is an interesting product. Not only is it the most powerful desktop processor Intel has released to date, but it consumes less power and runs somewhat cooler than previous Presler-based CPUs. It's still not quite on the same level of AMD's competitive high-end, dual-core offerings in terms of overall performance and power consumption, but Intel is much closer now then they were just a few short months ago, thanks to the 965XE new core stepping and higher clock speed. It's certainly easier to make a case today for a high-end Intel dual-core rig, that it was when the first Presler-based processors hit the market late last year.
Unfortunately for Intel (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), the company has put many buyers in a holding pattern, after letting the on-line press publicly release Conroe benchmarks earlier this month. Of course, $1000 CPUs like the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 typically don't sell like hotcakes anyway, but after seeing a 2.66GHz Conroe skunk an overclocked 2.8GHz FX-60 in an Intel-controlled benchmark session, we suspect sales of the 965XE will be even softer than they historically have been for a flagship chip like this. But Conroe is not here just yet. And if you're itching for the fastest Intel desktop processor available right now, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 is it. Intel expects the 965XE to be available April 1st from system builders and various on-line retailers.