i5 / P55 Lab Update -

We welcomed Anand back into the office with open arms this past weekend. He immediately started working on an in-depth analysis of clock for clock comparisons for several processors as a follow up to our Lynnfield launch article (among many other things). This analysis along with a quick i7/860 performance review will be available in the near future.

In the meantime, I have additional performance results using the P55 motherboard test suite along with some unusual results from our gaming selections. I am not going to dwell on with commentary in this short update. We will let the numbers speak for themselves at this point. 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 and 790FX motherboards 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, i7/870, and i7/860 processors at both stock and overclocked CPU settings.

We used DDR3-1333 6-6-6-18 1T timings for the i5/750 stock setup as DDR3-1600 is not natively supported in current BIOS releases for this processor at a stock Bclk setting of 133. We had early BIOS releases that offered the native 1600 setting but stability was a serious problem and support was pulled for the time being. Performance is essentially the same between the two settings. When we overclocked the i5/750 to 3.8GHz, we utilized the same DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 1T timings as the i7 setups.

The AMD 790FX setup is slightly different as trying to run DDR3-1600 at CAS 7 timings on the 1:4 divider is extremely difficult. DDR3-1600 is not natively supported on the Phenom II series so this divider is provided with a caveat that you are overclocking the memory bus. The same holds true for the Lynnfield (i7/8xx, i5/7xx) processors as DDR3-1333 is officially the highest memory speed supported and it is DDR3-1066 for the Bloomfield (i7/9xx).

Without resorting to some serious overvolting and relaxing of sub-timings, we set our AMD board up at DDR3-1600 8-8-8-20 1T timings. The difference in performance between C7 and C8 DDR3-1600 is practically immeasurable in applications and games on this platform. You might pick up an additional few tenths of second in SuperPi or a couple of extra points in AquaMark or 3DMark 2001SE, but otherwise performance is about equal.

However, in order to satisfy some of our more enthusiastic AMD supporters, we also increased our Northbridge speed from 2000MHz to 2200MHz to equalize, if not improve, our memory performance on the AMD system. Yes, we know, further increasing the NB speed will certainly result in additional performance but the focus of this short article is to show clock for clock results at like settings. Personally, I would run DDR3-1333 C6 with 8GB as this platform favors tighter timings over pure bandwidth.

Last, but not least, I only ran the i5/750 without turbo enabled and the P45/C2Q setup is missing. I am still completing those numbers. Anand will be providing additional analysis on the other Lynnfield processors in his update. The image gallery below contains our Everest memory results with each processor overclocked at similar memory settings along with voltage/uncore/subtiming options. I will go into these in more detail once the motherboard roundups start. For the time being, the 860/P55 offers slightly better throughput and latency numbers than the 920/X58 when overclocked. At stock, the numbers favor the Lynnfield, but primarily due to the turbo mode.

Other than that we are in a holding pattern on the P55 roundups at this time trying to figure out some unusual game and 3D Render results with our GTX275 video cards. I will discuss this problem in the game results.

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  • pnot00 - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Where can i get the 2x4GB sticks in this article? I can't find them anywhere and would like to put 16GB in this board for a small server.
  • pnot00 - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    duh n/m i must have been hoped up on too much coffee... 4x2GB.

    I really need to find 4 sticks of 4GB and the only ones i've found are by Kingston and they want $1,000 for them.

    Any suggestions?
  • FazliAmri - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link


    I'm eagerly awaiting for the finished review. i'm currently upgrading my system, thinking of 920/x58 or 860/p55, been scouring the net for the information that'll affect my decision. i think i'm on the verge of choosing but the thing that 'i think' is missing is

    cpu temp idle/load at OC 3.8;
    power consumption idle/load at OC 3.8;

    if you could include this data i thank you.
  • TA152H - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    You'd have to be retarded to buy a Lynnfield if you have enough money to get an i7 920 setup.

    This site tries very hard to push the P55, while trying to appear unbiased. Why? Who the Hell knows? Maybe Anand decreed the P55 should be put in a good light. I really don't know, but at this point I'm sure they are being biased, either consciously or unconsciously.

    But, you're really better off with Bloomfield if you can afford it.

    In this article, they make the overclocked processors look similar, but what they don't tell you is they run the memory controller faster on the Lynnfield, as well as the L3 cache. Why don't they tell you? They don't want you to know.

    So, clearly, the Bloomfield is faster even on the benchmarks they selected. I suggest you go to better sites and see the actual benchmarks, where you can see a slight performance increase on virtually any workload when the comparisons are apple to apple.

    You get better expandability, better granularity with uncore clock speeds, and memory (since you can add in multiples of two or three), better performance, and a better upgrade path since you will be able to use multi-GPU cards without penalties, and will be able to upgrade to a 6 core CPU without yanking the motherboard.

    Just make sure you get the D0 stepping of the 920. The C0 is slightly slower, and uses more power.

    If you can't swing the price of the 920, probably the i5 750 is a decent processor. I wouldn't even think about the 860 or 870. They run into Bloomfield territory, and why suffer a brain-damaged platform when you don't need to?
  • erple2 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    Curious. I don't see any actual difference between the 920 and the 860. I wouldn't consider anything under 3% to be significant, however.

    You're speculation on the bias of one site or another is just more bias, but on your part. I don't (and I'm pretty sure that you don't) know nor can prove (and neither can you) prove any bias one way or the other. From the benchmarks that I've seen from this site, it's clear to me that the P55 is a strong platform and competes well against the 920.

    Who cares if the memory clock runs faster or slower? How much of a significant difference does it really make to the end user? I suspect that the answer is "No way to be noticeable".

    I doubt that if you're concerned over saving a couple of bucks on the CPU/Mobo, you're not going to see any upgrade path along the X58 as an actual viable alternative. I seriously doubt that the 6 core processors will ever get to a "reasonable" price that will make it worthwhile to upgrade to, particularly if you're thinking about going the 920 route rather than a much more expensive CPU.

    My prediction (and it's just that, a prediction) is that when the 6 core processors are "mainstream" (which Intel hasn't really suggested that they will be in the near future), the "next best thing" (i9? whatever the future Intel line is) will be out, and prices on those will make the 6 core upgrade path not worthwhile. All while using up more power without getting any tangible benefit in the short or long term.

    You can argue that the memory controller is "brain-damaged", but from what I've seen from benchmarks here, there doesn't appear to be any tangible problem with that. Oh, a tangible difference would be in a real world scenario, not any synthetic memory stress test benchmark.
  • TA152H - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    You're not really comprehending what I'm saying.

    Of course this site won't show any appreciable difference, that's my point! They skew everything so it won't.

    For example, did you know they had to set the 860 to 1.312 volts, while they set the i7 920 to 1.232. Hmmmm, you probably didn't.

    Keep in mind, if you increase the uncore speed for the processor, you not only improve memory performance, but you increase L3 cache performance, which is important.

    I've already given reasons for my comments, so don't say it's just speculation. You think running the uncore slower, without mentioning it, is by accident?

    Look at other sites that really testing, and you see on a lot of benchmarks, the performance spread is different. This site will hide pertinent information, and then show benchmark results, knowing that most of the people won't really look at the details. And then they can say crap like, the difference wasn't really important.

    You really don't think it was worth mentioning they were running the uncore 200 MHz lower? Or the processor required considerably less voltage to reach the same clock speed? This is computers we are talking about, and computers are precise. You can't come to conclusions without precision in how you test, but, strangely, they have become really sloppy, and all in a way that benefits the P55.

    It's really bizarre. Not that I mind it, I'm past being irritated, and now I'm fascinated by just how gullible people are, and how unquestioning. People don't question what they want to see. It's been very educational. The sad part is, the ones who object to results are mostly doing it on partisan grounds (meaning, they are pro-AMD), although it's always refreshing to see others who realize the i7 920 is the best in it's price class, despite the disinformation spread by this site.

    I don't think Intel made a mistake with the brain-damaged Lynnfield, by the way. I think stock, which is how most processors are sold, it's fine. Well, I do think they made a mistake; not adding a IGP with it. I realize it's more difficult with an IMC, but they've had plenty of time to get something out. So, it's really a nothing technology that will fade into obscurity until they come out with an IGP, or get rid of the i7 920. It's brain-damaged, so it's not going to attract the high-end buyer, but it also doesn't have a proper platform to be a true Celeron. So, I think it's going to sell poorly. I don't think they'll be very successful conveying the value of it, although I think the i5 750 is best in class for that market segment.

    I think AMD's new Athlon will sell really well. It's quad core, and cheap, and runs at reasonable clock speeds. If you're the typical buying public, you see quad core, a lot cheaper, with higher clock speeds than the i5 750. The nice thing is, it's actually smaller too, or reusing dead parts that would have to be thrown out. For people that have a clue and want high end, it's the Bloomfield. I just don't see this having a big market near term.

    Intel is a screwy company. They get some things so right, like the Atom, and screw up things like not getting it a good chipset. They come out with the Lynnfields, and don't give it a proper IGP. Most computers DO sell with IGPs. Why leave themselves out of this market with these new products? I just don't understand them.
  • erple2 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    No, I do comprehend what you're saying. I believe that what you're saying isn't really all that relevant in the grand scheme of things. I'm just not seeing any tangible results (>3% difference) in actual usage.

    And fundamentally, that's my point. I've been following the computing industry since before Anand had anandtech, and one of the things that I have noticed is that synthetic benchmarks are, for most purposes, worthless. Who cares if CPU A has 30% more memory bandwidth, if the vast majority of tasks show an insignificant increase in performance in a game, or in encoding, or in compiling, general computing, or in some combination of those four?

    The point is that you're complaining about, what I consider to be, more or less trivialities. I say this because based on the numbers of a non-overclocked system, Lynnfield is exceptionally competetive with the 920. Sufficient in my mind to make the 920's really not that relevant. In fact, if you don't overclock, the 920's are actually slower in the setups that I care about (ie more or less everything except some memory benchmarks that don't ultimately mean anything). All that I can say about synthetic benchmarks is that some thing is faster than another. In fact, in those synthetic benchmarks, you can't really make meaningful conclusions as to the degree to which one product is faster than the other in a real-world scenario.

    I used to be like you. I used to put too much stake in a synthetic benchmarks. I used to think that they were important beyond making some generalized comments as to the which product was faster than another product. However, after about 20 years, I finally started to see the light.

    However, I'd like to see where you believe this to be an important distinction. I've looked at a few other sites, and haven't found any tangible differences between the two. I've looked at this site, tomshardware, xbitlabs, and pcper. Where else are you seeing such a marked (and meaningful) difference in performance?
  • FazliAmri - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link


    We all are trying to find " tangible differences " between 860 920 p55 x58 750 i5 i7 etc etc..

    i don't think wanting to know the CPU Temperature and CPU Power Consumption at Overclock Speed of 3.8 Ghz is "More or less trivialities". because this is My "real-world scenario"

    i'm deciding which to buy, 860 or 920. these are my deciding factors

  • the zorro - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    when overclocked to 4 ghz lynnfield temperatures are almost 100C, which is catastrophic.
    and the power consumption skyrockets.

    people is already complaining.

    Cons: 1) Lotsa of voltage increase needed to go past 3.6
    2) no good coolers *yet* (I purchased coolermaster hyper 212 plus, better than stock but....)

    Other Thoughts: Everytime i get a processor from newegg its like i'm destined to get the bottom of the barrel. after seeing initial reviews from various websites i was thinking 4ghz would be easy to obtain. Well i hit 3.6 ghz on stock voltage stable with prime 95, took 1.336 volts to get 3.8 ghz, and finally took me 1.375 volts to get to 4.0 ghz. Could run prime95 stable @ 4.0 ghz temps hitting mid 90's but i guess i'll back off 4.0 ghz til i find out more on this processor. initial reviews stated you wanted to stay under 1.4v, but i'm iffy on that if i want this thing to run for 6 months. kinda wish i woulda opted for the i920, i recommend anyone does if that can get a d0 stepping.

  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    For all your complaints about them hiding information and such, do you actually have any references to prove that there is more than a few % difference in multiple real-world applications between the 860 and 920 when everything is set as equally as you want? From the memory scaling articles I have seen you need large changes in bandwidth or latency to get noticeable improvements in real applications.

    The difference in voltage needed to OC is of much more interest to me. Gary mentions that the 860 might save a lot of power, which seems counterintuitive to needing more voltage. The 750 is meaningless to me, I can afford either the 860 920 platforms, and have no use for better SLI/CF performance, so if performance is equal than other factors like power/temps and stability will make my decision. Al else equal, I'll take the 920 on the extremely slim chance a Gulftown will actually be cheap enough to buy. If the 860 really does draw only ~2/3 the power, I'd go with that.

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