Intel Core i5, Core i7 800 and P55 Express Chipset, Burned In

Intel Core i5, Core i7 800 and P55 Express Chipset, Burned In

With today's launch of their new "Lynnfield" based Core i5 and i7 800 series processors, and the accompanying P55 Express chipset, Intel's current flagship CPU microarchitecture--codenamed Nehalem--finally trickles its way down into the mainstream computing segment. Since Nehalem first landed on the desktop in the form of the Core i7 line of processors, it has unequivocally owned the performance segment of the market. They are simply the fastest desktop processors currently available, bar none. But while the Core i7 was riding high, Intel still had the established Core 2 line-up to satisfy the mainstream, though meeting market demand for a refresh here as well was obviously the end game.

Along with the new Core i5 and Core i7 800 series processors and P55 Express chipset, also come a plethora of new features and changes. While the Core i5 and i7 800 series processors are based on Nehalem and share similar execution cores, with these new processors, Intel has changed the integrated memory controller configuration, brought PCI Express connectivity on-die, and revamped their Turbo Mode functionality to offer varying levels of increased performance depending on the type of application being used. These new processors also require a new socket, new coolers, and the P55 Express chipset--which is an elegant single-chip solution.

There's a lot of information to cover to fill you all in on the pertinent details regarding the Core i5 and i7 800 series processors and P55 Express chipset. So we'll dive right in. First up we have some specifications on tap, and then we'll follow up with architectural and platform details, and a full performance breakdown using a trio of P55-based motherboards. Lots to see; let's get to it...

Intel Core i5 and i7 Processors and P55 Express Chipset


Intel Core i5 Processor On The Intel DP55KG "Kingsberg" Motherboard

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AMD is gonna be in trouble again.  Many people rightfully opted for a Phenom II 955 instead of an i7 920 because the performance wasn't much slower, but it cost much cheaper.  With the i5 750 priced similar to the 955 (and cheaper than the 965) once again AMD's entire lineup is gettled shuffled into the sub $200 market.  AMD still wins at a number of price points below that price, but it's a shame that AMD can't come out with something a little faster.  Still, good for the consumers who now have a really good CPU at around $200.  At least you can still go DDR2 (which is still cheaper) with the Phenom II line so you can still always build a cheaper system AMD style, but $200+ is now exclusively Intel.

Gaming is mostly my interest, so I'd like to see some high settings and resolutions benchmarks comparing the Phenom II 955 or 965 and the i5 750.  Low settings makes sure it is not GPU dependent, but I want to see GPU dependence too.  If say the 750 gets 33.8 and the 965 gets 32.2 (made up numbers) in Crysis at 1920x1200, then we can still say that AMD is "good enough" and can be noticably cheaper with the DDR2 route.  However, if the i5 still has a decisive advantage at the highest settings, showing that it can make a GPU really shine to its fullest, then we can say AMD is really toast at a price point above $170.

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News:
At $199, the Core i5 750 can easily be considered a hot new mainstream quad-core offering.

Except for the fact that, as I write this, NewEgg and TigerDirect are charging $209.


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Super Dave:

News:
At $199, the Core i5 750 can easily be considered a hot new mainstream quad-core offering.

Except for the fact that, as I write this, NewEgg and TigerDirect are charging $209.


NEWSFLASH: The price has dropped to $206.99!

 

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Yeah, pricing is weird. Amazon has the i7 860 for $356. Expect that to come down REAL quick, since Newegg has it for $300. That's better, but wasn't the MSRP on that one $285?

At this point I'm going to put my new system build on the back burner. It appears, though, that I can get better value out of an 860-based system than a 920; unless someone can prove that triple channel memory does way better than dual channel. As far as I can tell, that and the integrated Northbridge are the biggest differences.

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Well if you want to OC it there are some differences.  The integrated PCIe controller has it's power tied to the Uncore.  So you won't be getting those crazy 4Ghz OCs on stock voltages.  You have to crank up the juice.

The dual channel memory controller with DDR3 1333Mhz can fully handle three of the cores hitting at max output.  Only place you'll take a hit there is with high demand apps that use all your cores or in things that are extremely memory intensive. 

As a side note, all the comparisons of memory bandwidth and such between them that I have seen (except here) have had the 900 series using DDR3 1066Mhz memory.  But even using slower memory the tri channel (of course) has higher bandwidth.  And that gap just expands with higher speed memory.  However, only when running more than 1.5 cores per memory channel flat out or in extremely memory speed limited situations will you see an advantage from the tri-channel.  I have 12GiB in my system and normally see 8~10GiB of it used, but then I try to keep as much stuff in memory as possible (plus added the pair of SSD's in RAID0 for the stuff that couldn't be there).  Memory resident with high bandwidth (specially backed by SSDs) makes the whole system feel silky smooth.

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How does the turbo thing affect overclocking? I would think that would make for a bit more work. Having to test each core to see if each one can run at the high speed when they are the only one maxed out.

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Well, their turbo in the new chips goes up to 5 speed bins higher, compared to only 2 on the 900 series.  If your upping the juice and want to keep turbo mode on, then it is best to clock the 700 and 800 series to something that will net you 3.8~4Ghz with a 5 speed bin increase.  If you turn the turbo mode off (add up the volts), it looks like most sites are hitting 4~4.2Ghz.  Oh, both of the above are with a non-stock cooler.  Seems the stock cooler is not very good at OCing.

If you don't up the voltage, the highest I have seen was about 3.46Ghz.  That PCIe on die gets unstable and messes things up without the extra voltage.

As for the question about cooling it, any decent after market air cooler will work.  The stock cooler is not up to OCing with extra voltage though.

 

Cheers

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>The stock cooler is not up to OCing with extra voltage though.

Is it ever? ,)

 

Being a belt-and-suspenders sort, I'd go with overcooling rather than undercooling, even if I wasn't reaching for the skies as far as overclocking. $65 for a Thor's Hammer or Megahalems (not counting fans) is a small price to pay, and the new lines of water coolers look promising and competitive.

 

Still, I'd like to see a review site do some testing on the temperature range we can expect from the new chips.

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@InfinityzeN: That sounds well-ordered. What you said appears to support buying an 860 if your needs aren't too extreme-- and since I'm designing the new system to be a decent World of Warcraft rig at 1680x1050 resolution, "not too extreme" describes it well. Bob_on_the_cob also convinced me that I don't need a CrossfireX setup, though I'd buy a motherboard that has that capability, in case someday there's an advantage to running more than one graphics card for WoW.

 

I also wonder about the heat produced by the Lynnfield chips. I'm not a crazymad overclocker, but I'd try to get a little extra juice out of the processor. I'll be looking forward to reading about temperature testing of the new chips to see whether liquid cooling or a massive air cooler is required, or whether I can get away with a quieter solution.

 

But I'm definitely waiting for prices to stabilize.

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