Monday, June 17, 2013

Is it worth upgrading to Haswell from IvyBridge or Sandybridge?

The official Haswell reviews came out at the beginning of this month (June, 2013) and they proved that the information that was leaked few weeks ago is completely accurate. Haswell is only having a single digit (percent) performance advantage over IvyBridge and they get very hot when overclocked. It seems you need a lot of luck and cooling power to even hit 4.4GHz. However, what you have to do to overclock the Haswell CPU should be quite simple.

Those new z87 motherboards are so delicious though. You get 6 SATA-III ports, 6 USB3.0 ports, PCI-E 3.0, integrated Wireless 802.11ac (certain models), much better integrated audio (certain models) and nice looks overall. Some people would even upgrade to Haswell for this alone. 

Check this HARDOCP article to see how Sandybridge, IvyBridge and Haswell all stand against each other when overclocked to 4.5GHz. This article also mentions all the pitfalls of overclocking Haswell. It's a good read. You should read it if you are planning to get a Haswell CPU and want to overclock it.

BTW, if you are planning to get a non-K CPU hoping that it would allow you to overclock at least a few hundred MHz, you would be disappointed. Only K-editions are overclockable. Others will be stuck to their stock Turbo Boost algorithm. You can try increasing the BCLK, but it won't get your much farther. 

On top of that, you don't get VT-d and TSX instructions support on the K-editions. They are only available on non-K editions. Intel is messing with the Overclocking community it seems. It clearly shows that they don't want use to overclock, because it handicaps their sales because people might not upgrade if their current CPU overclocks pretty well and is faster than the new CPUs. (This seems to be the case with a lot of SB and IB users against Haswell)

I evaluated a bit where the economics stand. I would obviously sell my existing CPU and motherboard if I upgrade to Haswell. According to the current second hand prices, I would only get like ¥22,000 for both of them. I might even add my Creative X-Fi Titanium audio card to that so I might get like ¥24,000 (because integrated audio on these boards is so good). But the Core i7 4770K alone costs little more than ¥35,000 and then add another ¥20,000 for a good motherboard. (It's the massive price you have to pay for getting stuff at launch here in Japan. Prices will drop few thousands in the coming months.) That's about ¥30,000 extra for almost no performance increase (well 15% best case increase isn't a lot). I must be insane to go ahead with the upgrade. 

Thus, my upgrade plans are officially done. I'm keeping my trusty Sandybridge. But being the geek I am, I won't stop there and give up. There are newer CPUs coming in few months, from both Intel and AMD. Hopefully I will be able to upgrade to one of them.

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