Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are you upgrading to Haswell? Improved iGPU will be the killer feature.

Would you upgrade especially if you are already running a 2nd generation or 3rd generation Core i-series CPU? The leaked benchmark scores aren't that great. They maybe for early engineering samples but I don't think the final chip will be much faster than the chips used in the leaked results. Intel won't be making big last minute changes.

I'm running a 2nd generation Core i7 2600K CPU and it's overclocked to 4.5GHz. We don't know how high Haswell CPUs will clock. You would expect an increase in overclock potential because of process shrink but IvyBridge didn't work that way. So you won't know until the full reviews are out. But if these CPUs can hit 5GHz easily, the increase on IPC will carry the performance delta past 30% mark. That's a healthy increase in performance these days.

(Image courtesy of Anandtech) 
One more issue I have with the leaked specs is that the TDP has increased from IvyBridge (84W vs. 77W) contrary to the popular belief. Haswell was supposed to bring significant power savings to the table. Why has the TDP gone up by 7W? I wonder if most of that power is resident in the iGPU. The biggest performance improvements in Haswell will come from the iGPU which doesn't mean much to most enthusiasts. The only thing you might want to do with the iGPU is video transcoding using Intel's QuickSync technology. Even then, the options are pretty limited. The application support for QuickSync sucks at best.

BUT...but...it looks like the drought is going away. You know what Handbrake is, right? Anandtech just reported that Handbrake is about to get QuickSync support. That would be awesome!!! That would be the reason to upgrade to Haswell, especially I'm only using a 2nd generation Core i-series CPU.

(Image courtesy of  wccftech.com)

However I would be waiting for the prices to come down to reasonable levels before upgrading. That would be end of the year where there would be many price cuts an promotions going on. Besides, Windows Blue update will come soon after Haswell released. Better to wait and see what enhancements the motherboard manufacturers would bring down to the table.

But I have to tell. ASRock has been constantly upgrading the features on my old Z68 Extreme4 (here) motherboard and they recently enabled support for Ultra Fast Boot with Windows 8. The reason to upgrade the motherboard is ever so diminishing.

I'd like to see motherboard with as little amount of components as possible, so that the interrupt servicing delays are as low as possible. Latest article from Anandtech suggest that the major cause of stuttering in games is because Windows is not a real time OS. That means, it doesn't guarantee that a task completes within a said amount of time. Lesser drivers to deal with the better. So basically I don't want any 3rd party controllers or USB2.0 or SATA-II or PCI ports, or even onboard audio. I'd like to see 10Gbps LAN and Wireless 802.11ac though.
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