Upgrading from an Intel Core i7-2600K: Testing Sandy Bridge in 2019by Ian Cutress on May 10, 2019 10:30 AM EST
One of the risk factors in overclocking is driving the processor beyond its ideal point of power and performance. Processors are typically manufactured with a particular sweet spot in mind: the peak efficiency of a processor will be at a particular voltage and particular frequency combination, and any deviation from that mark will result in expending extra energy (usually for better performance).
When Intel first introduced the Skylake family, this efficiency point was a key element to its product portfolio. Some CPUs would test and detect the best efficiency point on POST, making sure that when the system was idle, the least power is drawn. When the CPU is actually running code however, the system raises the frequency and voltage in order to offer performance away from that peak efficiency point. If a user pushes that frequency a lot higher, voltage needs to increase and power consumption rises.
So when overclocking a processor, either one of the newer ones or even an old processor, the user ends up expending more energy for the same workload, albeit to get the workload performed faster as well. For our power testing, we took the peak power consumption values during an all-thread version of POV-Ray, using the CPU internal metrics to record full SoC power.
The Core i7-2600K was built on Intel’s 32nm process, while the i7-7700K and i7-9700K were built on variants of Intel’s 14nm process family. These latter two, as shown in the benchmarks in this review, have considerable performance advantages due to microarchitectural, platform, and frequency improvements that the more efficient process node offers. They also have AVX2, which draw a lot of power in our power test.
In our peak power results graph, we see the Core i7-2600K at stock (3.5 GHz all-core) hitting only 88W, while the Core i7-7700K at stock (4.3 GHz all-core) at 95 W. These results are both respectable, however adding the overclock to the 2600K, to hit 4.7 GHz all-core, shows how much extra power is needed. At 116W, the 34% overclock is consuming 31% more power (for 24% more performance) when comparing to the 2600K at stock.
The Core i7-9700K, with eight full cores, goes above and beyond this, drawing 124W at stock. While Intel’s power policy didn’t change between the generations, the way it ended up being interpreted did, as explained in our article here:
You can also learn about power control on Intel’s latest CPUs in our original Skylake review: