We will start off our P55 coverage this week by answering a question that has been raised numerous times as of late, “Exactly how will the new DX11 cards perform on the Lynnfield/P55 platform compared to the Bloomfield/X58?”. The answer to that question depends on the game engine, settings, and processor choice for the most part. There has been much speculation that the Lynnfield/P55 platform would fail miserably with the next generation cards. That said, the difference in platform performance between the first DX11 capable cards available (ATI HD 5870/5850) is about the same as previous generation cards we tested in the Lynnfield launch article.

This means for single card performance both platforms trade blows for supremacy. However, for those running CF/SLI setups, the X58 continues to be the platform of choice for users wanting the best possible benchmark results. Does that mean the integrated dual x8 PCIe 2.0 logic on Lynnfield is a poor choice compared to the dual x16 PCIe 2.0 sporting X58? Absolutely not based on our initial tests. In fact, it should satisfy most users.

Now for those making an investment into an ultra high-end HD 5870 CrossFireX setup, the Core i7/X58 configuration will simply offer the best possible performance. Of course that performance comes at a cost, particularly power consumption. However, we have a feeling most owners sporting two HD 5870s are not that concerned about Al Gore knocking on their door in the middle of the night.

In the meantime, we have our first performance results comparing the Core i7/860 and P55 against the like priced Core i7/920 and X58 in a variety of games. We are going to state this upfront, this is not a GPU review of the HD 5870. Instead, we decided to pull this information out of the upcoming high-end P55 roundup so it did not get lost in the mix. Our resolution is limited to 1920x1080 that we use in the motherboard test suite. As such, the numbers speak for themselves. So let’s get right to the results today, but first, the test setup.

Test Setup-

For our test results we setup each board as closely as possible in regards to memory timings and sub-timings. The P55 motherboard utilized 8GB of DDR3, while the X58 platform contained 6GB. The P55 and X58 DDR3 timings were set to 7-7-7-20 1T at DDR3-1600 for the i7/920 and i7/860 processors at both stock and overclocked CPU settings. All power management features were enabled on each board and voltages were set at the lowest possible values when overclocking while still retaining 24/7 stability.

The image gallery below contains our Everest memory results with each processor overclocked at similar memory settings along with voltage/uncore/subtiming options. The 860/P55 offers slightly better throughput and overall latency numbers than the 920/X58 when overclocked. At stock, the latency numbers favor Lynnfield with assistance from the turbo mode.

Our game selection today is varied but is missing a couple of titles we wanted to show. We pulled Crysis Warhead as the CrossFireX scaling numbers were under 8% and Need For Speed: Shift does not have a CrossFire profile yet. AMD is currently working on updated CF profiles for the latest games. We also had some corruption problems when running Empire:Total War and Anno 1404 that is under investigation.

All of our gaming performance results are reported in average frame rates per second in the main bar graph with minimum frame rates reported in the text section. The results are sorted by the average frame rates.  We are also reporting single card results with the HD 5870 running at PCIe 2.0 x8 speeds on the P55 platform to compare performance to the x16 single card setup. We installed an Intel CT Gigabit network card in the second physical x16 slot in order to force x8 operation.

FarCry 2 - The hurt is on...


View All Comments

  • Dudlington - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    I've still never seen this answered in any reviews:

    If P55 only has 16 PCI-E lanes, does that mean it is impossible to have 2 GFX cards (2x8 lanes) AND have a 1X or 4X expansion card? E.g., RAID, USB/Firewire, TV Tuner etc...?

    Kind of a big deal to have not been brought up yet.
  • Scheme - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    The 16 PCIe lanes you refer to are on the CPU (Lynnfield). The P55 chipset adds another 8 PCIe lanes for expansion cards. Reply
  • Dudlington - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Ahh - thank you very much. I've been wondering this for a while. I thought all PICe had been moved to the CPU. Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, October 1, 2009 - link

    If it had, then perhaps TA would have a point as regards Lynnfield being "brain-damaged" :) Hell, I'd probably pipe up and say it was a bad decision had they gone that particular route.

    Lynnfield is certainly attractive.
  • shaggart5446 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    can u use possible tripple ram in the linfield p55 platform Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    No, dual channel only. There was a Gigabyte motherboard with 6 RAM slots, but still dual-channel. Reply
  • vshin - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    The X58 is a dead-end money pit. Gulftown will probably debut at $1k and will be out of reach for the majority of us so touting the 1366 platform as a good investment is bad advice. After the 920, Bloomfield offers little in return for the relatively high cost. TA is hoping to wait for Gulftown prices to fall under $300 but he should just give up. Look at Bloomfield... it's been out for a year and Intel would rather bump clock speeds to maintain prices rather than drop them. What makes TA think Gulftown will drop $700 before Sandy Bridge is out? It's a fool's hope.

    TA is right about one thing though. There is a missing 32nm segment between Gulftown and Clarkdale, which is what the budget enthusiast PC gamer is waiting for: 4-core 32nm Nehalem for under $300 without on-board graphics and no plans to SLI. Intel has been silent but everything points to a 32nm die-shrink of Lynnfield some time in mid-2010 to replace the current Lynnfield lineup at the same prices. This will be a drop-in upgrade for the 1156 socket so that actually makes the p55 platform a better deal for the near future.

    If you have to upgrade right now, you can find 750/1156 combos for around $300, which is a good deal. You can overclock this system and it should hold you over till Sandy Bridge. If Intel does come out with a 32nm shrink, then you have the option to drop it in for an upgrade.
  • bobskeeper - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    "The X58 is a dead-end money pit. Gulftown will probably debut at $1k and will be out of reach for the majority of us so touting the 1366 platform as a good investment is bad advice. After the 920, Bloomfield offers little in return for the relatively high cost. TA is hoping to wait for Gulftown prices to fall under $300 but he should just give up. Look at Bloomfield... it's been out for a year and Intel would rather bump clock speeds to maintain prices rather than drop them. What makes TA think Gulftown will drop $700 before Sandy Bridge is out? It's a fool's hope."

    I really don't know why you take every opportunity to assert that X58 is a "dead-end money pit" and that Gulftown is destined to be nothing more than a $1000+ boutique part. Such an assumption runs contrary not only to common sense but historical precedence. The best comparison would be the transition from the 65nm Kentsfield to the 45nm Yorkfield two years ago. It's true that the first Die-shrunk Yorkfield (The QX9650) did debut at the $1000 price point at the end of 2007. It was soon followed, however, by many other SKUs in early 2008 that hit the same price points that Intel has always liked to occupy, all the way down to $266 for the launch of the Q9300.

    Intel knows the volumes on its most expensive parts are very low, which is why it arranges its launches in this manner; start with low-volume, high-cost parts as the new production process matures, then quickly follow with higher volume, higher value parts as yields and supply ramp up. There's no reason to believe that the transition from 45nm to 32nm will follow a different pattern. Gulftown will probably debut as an "Extreme Edition" part or whatever Intel is calling them these days, but it won't be long before more valuable models are introduced in the $300-500 price range. The only possible motivation Intel would have for keeping prices above $1000 would be a complete lack of competition from AMD. Thankfully, AMD is in a much better competitive position with Intel now (at least with regards to value if not bleeding-edge performace) than they were when Yorkfield debuted.

    I guess the only real wrinkle is that technically Gulftown appears to be intended as a workstation/server part. (Hence the -town codename as opposed to the -field code names of previous consumer quad-cores.) Still, there tends to be just as much segmentation and pricing differential among current-gen Harpertowns, so again I'm not seeing any reason it will be any different with Gulftown.
  • vshin - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    I actually do like Bloomfield and consider it better than Lynnfield from a technical standpoint. In fact, I would love nothing more than for Intel to release <$300 versions of Gulftown at launch but we both know that probably won't happen. But unlike TA, I won't try to spread bad advice. For the mainstream gamer, Gulftown will not be a reasonable upgrade path and that's the main reason why I can't recommend the X58 platform to this segment.

    The analogy you mentioned doesn't really apply since Intel has made it clear they want the p55 platform to occupy the "performance mainstream" market and reserve the X58 for the "extreme high-end" segment along with its higher pricing. It is much more likely they would shrink Lynnfield to 32nm than let i7 parts cannibalize the i5 lineup. In fact, you are seeing it already with Bloomfields maintaining the exact same price structure since release... even after one year. I wouldn't be suprised if Intel phases out i7 920 production very soon.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Given that Intel knows their sales numbers on the $1000+ processors, I wouldn't be surprised to see a ~$500-600 Gulftown at launch. Which is more than most of us are willing to pay, but if you are already considering $500+ in video cards, a processor in that range might not be bad either if the games can use it. Either way, I don't think you constantly calling X58 a dead-end money pit is any different than TA152H calling Lynnfield brain-damaged, both are exaggerations.

    I also wouldn't be too surprised to see the 920 disappear, but only because it doesn't separate itself from the Lynnfields by much. Now that they have Lynnfield to fill that price bracket, they can position X58 further upmarket. Considering Intel has generally not dropped new stuff on the market that was not on the public roadmap (such as a 32nm Lynnfield) I would guess the rumors are more a result of wishful thinking than concrete information. Maybe Sandy Bridge will be released earlier in the year to absorb 32nm capacity. I'd guess the Bloomfield pricing never moved much because there wasn't competition to bring it down. The X58 motherboards dropped with competition, but when the only competition to the 920 is the 860 and 870 and Intel prices them all accordingly, prices don't move.

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