Intel Core i5 661 Reviewccokeman - January 3, 2010
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One of the strong suites of the Core i5 661 Clarksdale processor is its high definition playback and GPU computing capabilities. With the Clarksdales built in 45nm graphics processor, you have the ability to use the GPU to complete tasks that in the past were exclusively in the domain of the CPU - such as video editing, converting media to different formats, and processing images. The massive parallel computing power of the GPU is starting to be used for many things that the mainstream user does on a day-to-day basis. This makes the use of the computer more efficient by dropping the time it takes to complete tasks. One of the things I was curious about specifically was the Blu-ray playback capabilities. After setting up the applications that show off this capability (Cyberlink Power DVD 9 and Arcsoft Total Media Theater Platinum), I blocked out a few evenings to see just how well the playback capabilities were by watching some newer titles like District 9, Star Trek and Inglorious Bastards. To say I was impressed is an understatement. The picture was crisp and clear with no distortion, jumps, or jitters. This was an improvement over my current setup that includes a DVD player hooked to the television and surround sound system. CPU usage for the testing averaged just under 3% when the GPU was doing the work and peaked at almost 30% when the GPU was not used. This is a serious reduction in processor usage by using the GPU. The two main discrete card manufacturers have been able to do this and it is now good to see the mainstream users will get this benefit, without having to shell out good money for an additional bit of hardware.
Gaming is something we all do. From the little ones playing an online flash game, all the way up to the hardcore gamers. As you can guess, the Clarksdale i5 661 is aimed at the mainstream user (Family) that uses the computer for for all the every day tasks. Gaming is not its strong suite, but it does have the ability do some gaming. Flash based games and casual games like Bejeweled are games that the Clarksdale can handle with ease. When you move up the gaming ladder to the mainstream titles, you have games like the Sims and World of Warcraft that are still playable. As much as I didn't want to, I had to see what WOW was all about and was able to play World of Warcraft at an easy 70 to 80 FPS while strolling around the world with a few encounters with creatures intent on causing mayhem. I never did find my Night Elf Mohawk... I also played a few titles I have with mixed success. Left 4 Dead was playable with reduced quality settings all the way up to 1680x1050, where I averaged 30 FPS on the Blood Harvest map. Not too shabby! Past that, Bioshock was not playable at any resolution, so that's where I left the testing.