Intel Core i5, Core i7 800 Processors and P55 Express - HotHardware

Intel Core i5, Core i7 800 Processors and P55 Express

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First up we have Gigabyte's flagship P55-UD6. The P55-UD6 built around Gigabyte's signature blue PCB, and it features seven expansion slots (3 x PEG, 2 x PCIe x1, 2 x PCI), and large, aluminum heatinks on the VRM and chipset. If you look close at the heatsinks though, you'll notice that the one about in the middle of the board--in the traditional northbridge location--isn't really mounted to anything. It's sort of just floating there, connected to the VRM heatsinks via a heatpipe. This is due to the fact that, as we've mentioned already, Lynnfield based processes move virtually all of the legacy northbridge functionality, including PCI Express connectivity and a memory controller, onto the CPU die itself, so there's no need for a true northbridge chip.



    

    
Gigabyte P55-UD6 Motherboard


The board's trio of PEG slots support SLI and CrossFire multi-GPU configurations and there's also plenty of connectivity in the I/O backplane--Gigabit LAN and HD Audio support come by way of Realtek chips and the Firewire ports are powered by a TI controller. The P55-UD6 is also outfitted with 10 SATA ports, 6 DIMM slots, which is currently a rarity with P55-based motherboards--although it is still dual-channel, a POST code error reporter, dual-Gigabit LAN, and a host of other features.

The Gigabyte P55-UD6's main claim to fame, however, is its 24 phase power design. If you look around the CPU socket you can plainly see the 24 phase design and count the components for yourself. In fact, you'll count 27 phases, but three of them are dedicated to the memory slots. The P55-UD6 is also a member of Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 family of products, which means it sports 2oz copper layers in its PCB, solid Japanese capacitors, Lower Rds MOSFETs, and Ferrite core chokes.

This is the motherboard we used for our overclocking tests, and we also feature a full set of benchmarks using this board later in this article. Overall, we definitely give it a thumbs up. As you'll see, performance was excellent and it found it to be very stable and overclockable too.





    

    
Asus Maximus III Formula

Like the Intel board pictured on the previous page, the Asus Maximus III Formula is built around a dark colored PCB, but with red, white, and black accents. It has four DDR3 DIMM slots for dual-channel memory configurations, and each slot has an interesting retention clip configuration. If you look close, you'll see that the retention clips closest to the expansion slots are much smaller than those on the opposite side. That's to prevent the clips from interfering with long graphics cards or the two nearby SATA ports.

Six more SATA ports are mounted horizontally behind the P55 chipset heatsink, which is comprised of a relatively large aluminum block with numerous fins. Although this heatsink isn't linked to any others via heat-pipes, the P55 chipset doesn't generate much heat at all, so this simple heatsink should be more than sufficient. Two more SATA ports rest along the bottom edge.

The expansion slots consist of three PCI Express x16 slots--with SLI and CrossFire support--two x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. One of the x1 slots is crammed right in front of the heatsink adorned with the RoG badge, so it may be unusable with some expansion cards. Notice the PEG slots have extra-large retention clips, that should make it easy to remove cards.

The layout of the board is typical of a RoG series product, and the I/O backplane is loaded with the usual suspects. One new feature making an appearance here, however, is dubbed RoG Connect. The RoG Connect port in the backplane will allow users to connect the board to a second system (like a notebook) for real-time hardware monitoring and tweaking.




    

    
EVGA P55 SLI Motherboard

EVGA also chimed in with one of their P55 SLI motherboards. As its name suggests, the board obviously supports SLI (and CrossFire). But another interesting feature has to do with its CPU cooler retention holes. The EVGA P55 SLI is outfitted with CPU heatsink mounting holes that are compatible with both legacy socket 775 and new socket 1156 heatsinks, which could save upgraders some money.

Additional features of the EVGA P55 SLI include Low Inductance Ceramic Capacitors in the CPU cavity, dual clock generators for the CPU and PCIe interface, to ensure clean signals while overclocking, and a POST code error reporter. Relatively large aluminum heatsinks reside on the VRM and chipset.  On-board power, reset, and clear CMOS switches  are situated along the bottom edge of the board.

We did not have time to put the EVGA P55 SLI through its paces in time for this article, but we will be rounding up a number of P55-based motherboards in the not too distant future. So stay tuned for the full scoop.
 

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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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