Saturday, May 4, 2013

To upgrade to Haswell from Sandybridge or not! That’s the question.

With Intel’s Haswell release being right around the corner, the upgrade itch is crawling back into me. I currently use a Intel Core i7 2600K CPU and ASRock Z68 Extreme4 motherboard (i.e. Sandybridge) in my PC and they are quite capable even in the demanding tasks. The CPU is overclocked to 4.5GHz, which makes it way faster than the current (3rd) generation flagship CPU in every task. Probably, it would remain the same when Haswell CPUs come out as well, because the rate of increase in performance with each new generation of CPUs has dropped to single digit percentage numbers in the last few years. If the rumors are true, Haswell won’t be any different (this, this and this). If you checked that last link, you will see that most of the performance improvements come from the GPU side. I don’t care about that because I would always be using a discreet graphics card. (But knowing that Handbrake would get QuickSync support in the future, makes things a bit more interesting.) All in all, my CPU at 4.5GHz would still own the flagship member from Haswell at stock – at least in most benchmarks.

But the question remains, why am I even considering upgrading to Haswell? That’s because Haswell itself will overclock and once overclocked, it would leave my current overclocked CPU in the dust. If the rumors are true, you might be able to hit 6GHz with proper cooling with a Haswell CPU. That would make it about 50% faster than my current CPU. No concrete information is available about the overclockability of Haswell CPUs so I cannot really make a decision until the official reviews are out. But I am hopeful. We’ll find all about it in a month.

Haswell is not only about performance. It is also about power efficiency. Haswell CPUs will be able to do more work with less power. And the idle power usage seems to have dropped by 10 times. This is not anymore a rumor, but it seems that most of the crappy CPUs won’t be able to deliver the low currents required for Haswell CPUs when at idle. We always looked at how the PSU copes with high power demands and never at how the PSU copes with low power demands. Seems that crappy PSUs cannot deliver low power “stably”. That would probably give BSODs. I checked on Intel’s website and seems like my PSU is supported after all (Corsair 75-001311 aka 850TX). So I don’t need to change the PSU. But even if I had to, I wouldn’t be to displeased about it because I get to buy a PSU with modular cables and also something more efficient that the one I have.

Intel Haswell Box ArtBut, an important question remains: how important is power efficiency improvements in a desktop environment? Not so much, right, because there are so many other things that would be using up the power. The video card is the biggest culprit. Then there is RAM, hard drives, audio card and fan.

Then there is this USB issue with the early chips. With the buggy chips, when your PC goes into standby and you have a storage device plugged into USB3.0 ports, you will have to disconnect and reconnect the device to make it work after you resume from standby. It’s a nasty bug, but it is fixed in the latest chips. But the bug fixed chips won’t make it to the first motherboards. Rumor is that it would take about a month before the bug fixed versions of the motherboards hit the market. I would definitely wait for that.

When Haswell CPUs go on sale in Japan, the second hand market value of my current CPU and the motherboard would drop. I don’t know by how much, but it will definitely drop. I will have to evaluate the situation against those figures. I don’t want to receive only 1/3 the price of what I’m paying for the Haswell upgrade when I sell my current CPU and motherboard. That just doesn’t seem right.

All of these have to align, if I am to go ahead with the upgrade. The CPU has to overclock well; the bug fixed motherboards have to hit the market; I need to get something valuable from selling off my old stuff. I’m mostly concerned about the latter. Because even right now, I’m getting only about JPY 22,000 if I sell my CPU and mobo. :(

One important thing I forgot to mention. I currently use the Zalman CNPS9900MAX-B air cooler, and it is not the best out there, especially because it is so loud when the fans are running at full speed. I might upgrade this cooler to something decent with the Haswell upgrade. All depends on the overclockability. Too bad this case doesn’t support most of the hot (not literally) coolers out there. :(

Finally, let me list up the reasons for the upgrade.

  • 50% performance improvement over my current gear – when overclocked
  • Reduced overall power consumption
  • Better Windows 8 compatible hardware (motherboard site perhaps)
  • I only have to upgrade the CPU and the motherboard. (unless speed of RAM makes a difference; I only have ones running at 1600MHz)
  • Native USB 3.0 support (IvyBridge brought this to the table, but I don’t have an IvyBridge rig, do I?)
  • PCI-E 3.0 support. (Again, IvyBridge brought this to the table, but I don’t have an IvyBridge rig, do I? Besides, I already have a PCI-E 3.0 graphics card.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...