Saturday, July 2, 2011

Intel Sandybridge, here I come (Core i7 2600K, ASRock Z68 Extreme4)

After a lot of thought, I went ahead with the Sandybridge upgrade. If you know me, you should know that I am always looking for the sweet spot when it comes to performance for the $$$. This time, things have changed.

Why did I have to upgrade?

Well, I didn’t have to, but there were few issues with my old PC.

  • It wouldn’t POST some times. It had warm boot problems.
  • I couldn’t add a second graphics card, if I wanted to, because the SATA ports would be right underneath the second card, rendering 4 out of 6 ports unusable. Of course I might not add one right now, because there is no real need at the moment. But definitely when BF3 comes out. Maybe I would buy two GTX560’s or 570’s.
  • I was doing a lot of video encoding stuff. A faster CPU would benefit.
  • And most importantly, fun! And we got our mid-year bonus + I made about 40k in the last couple of months from overtime work.
  • Besides, I could sell my old stuff off, so that I can make some of what I spent, back.

So what did I upgrade to?

Let’s see why I chose each of them.

CPU: Because of hyperthreading as it would help my video encoding stuff. Also, because it was second hand, it was only about 5k more than a 2500K.

Motherboard: Because of this thread. There is a lot of support for this motherboard, and the guy who calls himself Ket in that thread, is a reviewer for ASRock and we can get our problems resolved through him. Peace of mind. And the motherboard is so damn stable! And it boots super fast (about 10 seconds faster than before), even with the old Vertex 2 drives in RAID-0.

Cooler: Of course because of better cooling, tidier internals and low weight on the motherboard. The stock fan is so loud. Right now I am running a couple of Enermax T.B. Silence fans in there, but I ordered a couple of Cooler Master Blade Master fans because they have a very good static pressure rating (which is important for cooling a radiator.) Should come today.

I have managed to overclock the CPU to 4.5GHz with 1.35V in BIOS. Of course CPU doesn’t get that much volts. It gets 1.336V when idle and 1.320V at load, because of VDroop. I was hoping it would do better with the volts, but not to be. Only a handful of CPUs do 4.5GHz with less than 1.3V and you have to be very lucky. Unless you pump 1.4V or something in the vicinity, you cannot get those overclocking results every reviewer is posting. Some even clock past 5GHz, but they are not safe settings for 24/7 so what the hell!

One of the setbacks with this upgrade so far is the idle power draw. As per reviews, the Sandybridge’s idle power draw is exceptional: much lower than a Lynnfield. I measured the power draw and found out that the new setup uses up about 5W more than the old setup. That cannot be right! Well, I don't know. Should stop worrying about these unnecessary stuff.

P.S

The PC indeed feels faster. The programs open up very quickly. I didn’t expect that to happen, but it does. For example, iTunes with the whole music library loads in 2 seconds vs. 3 seconds.

Check out the detailed specs, pics and benchmarks here.

12 comments:

  1. And here we are thinking that you have a wedding to plan! :D

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  2. wedding eke panguwa wen karala godak kal. XD

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  3. haha! panguwa? infinity / some percentage => infinity!

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  4. LOL @ infinity / some percentage => infinity!

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  5. Great Upgrade mate, Had my eye on Antec Kuhler 620, nways cant buy it in SL, also thinking of getting a OCZ Vertx 3, how are the temps on SB with the Kuhler.

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  6. don't get the kuhler. it sucks, i mean the fan is arrogantly loud. get the Archon. it's the best in the world. great cooler, way better temps than the 620, very silent tool.

    unless you want to remove all heat out of the case, make it less stressful for the socket and make the area less populated, then these are the way to go. but the water block(pump) kinda gets pretty hot.

    i have couple of cooler master blade masters running in push-pull mode, but they are pretty loud as well. but i have set the RPM to 1200 which is not that loud and still do a good job.

    my temps reach 70-75C under Prime blend. but remember the ambient is over 30C (my current room temp is 32C). old cooler got to 85C. i'm kinda at the edge of the Vcore that i feel comfortable, which is 1.35V in BIOS (well, it stays at 1.32V under full load with level 2 LLC, which is the recommended setting) i guess i can successfully get the Vcore to around 1.375V keeping it at 1.35V under load, but i don't think i can do 4.6GHz with that. 4.7GHz definitely needs ~1.4V. Not the best overclocking chip this is. :( Thing is, getting this stable is such as pain. You can do 10hrs of Prime no problem, but it will BSOD with error code 124 at idle or doing some mediocre things. stop error 124 means not enough Vcore for these chips. old days it was for not enough VTT. Old chips were easy to stabilize, even though they say SB is easy to OC. total BS if you ask me!

    i'm not sure if i should upgrade the RAM as well. u know, there is hardly any performance boost with faster RAM. 1866 CL7 is the sweet spot, but even that will only give about 2% boost over 1333 CL9. I guess they have improved the cache hit ratio with these chips.

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  7. Yeah I looked at Archon too, Its frickin Huge that's why I thought of Kuhler, H70 is kind of too expensive, it has better performance than Archon as per reviews. I'm kinda stuck at 4 Ghz, anything more need more volts and my Hyper 212 can do only so much, I guess with a better cooler I can hit 4.3-4.4 Ghz.

    Yeah I was surprised cause everyone was talking about how they got their SB to 5 Ghz on Air, seems that's not the case, probably only a handful of chips can do that. I saw a Bulldozer Engineering Sample oced to 5.1 Ghz, really neat

    DDR3 RAM have tons of bandwidth I think its just better to have More RAM than fast RAM these days.
    thinking of getting another 6GB 1600Mhz CL7 kit(only 11k now) my self, 12GB would be enough for ages to come.

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  8. just because you can overclock a chip to 5GHz doesn't mean you can run it at same clocks 24/7. I'm sure mine can be pushed up to 5GHz but will need excess of 1.5V. 1.35V is what people recommend as max for these 32nm chips.

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  9. Dude I know that, I'm talking about the people that say that they actually run it @ 5Ghz everyday, sure I can oc mine to 4.4 and it still boots up but only just. its hard to say cuz most of what they say is just bullshit.

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  10. i'm not talking about just booting up. 5GHz is stable for some, but needs 1.45V or so. and they are willing to run it at those volts. i am not.

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