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C2Q 9400 or PII 940 or "Lynnfield" for multi-tasking

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May 31, 2009 5:40:40 AM

Hello,

I’m looking at building a new PC as mine is barely keeping up these days (old socket 939 AMD X2-4200). I’m not doing anything extraordinary with my computer, it’s just not fast enough any more. I like to have a LOT of browsers open (a shameful amount, really), word docs, watch TV, record TV, and encode TV programs (to wmv, avi, or whatever) – sometimes all at the same time. Oh, and sometimes I run Virtual PC too (on top of all that).

I need a little help because I’ve been out of “the game” for a bit. I was hoping to tell you what I was thinking and get some feedback.

After some research, I’m considering three options that look like they will all cost about the same (or so close it doesn’t matter). I am **not** an overclocker, so please don’t put any pros/cons related to that in your input. I’m also not a gamer.


An AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz
• At rest, lower power consumption than C2Q system, BUT at full power, consumes more power than C2Q system (heat and power consumption are considerations in my build)
• Possible upgrade path with AM2+/AM3 board
• Pretty much on par performance wise as C2Q 9400


An Intel Core2 Quad Q9400
• Fairly high power consumption at rest, but lower consumption at full power than Phenom II
• No upgrade path; I’m thinking LGA 775 is pretty much dead
• Pretty much on par performance wise with Phenom II


Wait for “Lynnfield” (AKA “Core i5”), which looks like it will be out in about 4 months or so??
• Most efficient processor
• Upgrade path for the future
• Kick ass performance -- will significantly outperform both the C2Q and the Phenom II
• BUT… I have to wait a bit
• AND… As an early adopter of the new platform I’ll surely be victimized by the utterly poor release quality that plague all motherboard manufactures these days -- it seems every motherboard manufacturer prematurely releases their boards to market before they are really ready. I won’t have the advantage of reviewing how boards are functioning in the real word, since I’ll be one of the first to buy. So, I could end up buying a big POS motherboard or so frustrated I want to scream and pull my freaking hair out.



GENERAL

The “upgrade path” isn’t too big of a concern, since by the time I outstrip the capabilities of my next processor, I’ll probably be ready for a whole new system.

I’m not sure if I can hold out long enough for Lynnfield though. Plus, I really want a SMOOTH installation. I really don’t have ANY tolerance or time for the utterly deplorable crap that motherboard manufacturers seem to release when a new chipset is deployed. I like to buy after the kinks have been worked out, the board is not on it’s first revision, and the BIOS has been all fixed up, and there’s some reports from users on how the board is working.

I’m leaning towards the Phenom II since I leave my computer running 24x7 and the power consumption is lower than C2Q when it is at rest.

a b à CPUs
May 31, 2009 6:51:23 AM

If you can, I'd definitely lean towards the lynnfield (of course, I waited about 10 months for Bloomfield, so I'm used to waiting for the latest tech).
May 31, 2009 7:24:58 AM

why not go for an i7 920 build?

it will cost about the same as the lynnfield build (assuming you go with the 2.8ghz SMT enabled version) but it will be a bit faster.
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May 31, 2009 9:35:36 AM

I was gong to go with the 2.66 GHz Lynnfield, which would cost about as much as the Phenom II 940 or C2Q 9400. A core i7 system would cost an additional $260 due to a slightly higher cost processor, a decently rated mobo, and DDR3 RAM.

$260 is a decent chunk of change and I'm not sure I'm going to get $260 worth of additional performance or power savings by moving up to an i7.

I could bring the price down to about a $200 difference by going with a low priced i7 mobo, but frankly, the user reviews on those scare the crap out of me.

May 31, 2009 4:24:49 PM

natesi said:
I was gong to go with the 2.66 GHz Lynnfield, which would cost about as much as the Phenom II 940 or C2Q 9400. A core i7 system would cost an additional $260 due to a slightly higher cost processor, a decently rated mobo, and DDR3 RAM.

$260 is a decent chunk of change and I'm not sure I'm going to get $260 worth of additional performance or power savings by moving up to an i7.

I could bring the price down to about a $200 difference by going with a low priced i7 mobo, but frankly, the user reviews on those scare the crap out of me.



well actually there will only be a small amount of difference, $50 max since the SMT enabled i5's start at $284, the motherboards for $160. so you'd be paying an extra $5 with the i7 if you get a mainstream X58 motherboard like an MSI X58M. Of course then you'd have to see the difference between dual and tri-channel ram which would add around $20 for tri-channel.

edit: looks like the SMT enabled i5 price is in bulk so you'd be looking at over $320 retail.
a b à CPUs
May 31, 2009 4:31:28 PM

OP: Altho you didn't mention costs outright, I assume from your statement that all 3 candidate builds 'cost about the same' that you are price-constrained. According to the frontpage Anandtech article, although i7 mobo prices have been dropping steadily (a decent one for $169 is available), they'll remain above what the i5 LGA 1156 boards will cost due to Intel's high pricing for the X58 chipset. However, if you live close to a Microcenter, they frequently have sales on the i920 around $229. sometimes as low as $199, which is significantly below the $288 list for both the i920 and the lowest HT-enabled Lynnfield (which probably won't be going on sale anytime soon after its release).

From your typical usage scenario, with all those apps running concurrently, I'd definitely consider HT to be important, and only the Lynnfield or i920 above will have that. The i920 is on its 2nd stepping already, and the LGA 1366 mobos seem to have the bugs worked out a while ago.
May 31, 2009 7:27:18 PM

I'm not sure where you guys are getting your information. Like I said I've been out of the game for a bit.

To clarify, I was looking at the 2.66 GHz Lynnfield which, according to the article below, should cost less than $200. This is less than the cost of a current C2Q 9400.

http://anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3570&p=...

They also claim that a decent mobo should be able to be had in the $100 range

Further reduce the price for not needing tripple channel memory.

All that makes the build VERY VERY VERY similar in price to a current Phenom II 940 or C2Q 9400.
May 31, 2009 8:02:51 PM

^ the 2.66 lynnfield should cost around $200 retail but that's because you lose SMT, or 4 threads, which definitely help in the multitasking department hence why the i7 does so well in FSX and apps which can use those extra threads.

also a number of motherboard manufacturers have already claimed i5 motherboards won't be cheap, more like $150+.
May 31, 2009 8:05:48 PM

^ all intel chipset's are power hungry.
May 31, 2009 8:50:15 PM

fazers_on_stun said:

From your typical usage scenario, with all those apps running concurrently, I'd definitely consider HT to be important, and only the Lynnfield or i920 above will have that. The i920 is on its 2nd stepping already, and the LGA 1366 mobos seem to have the bugs worked out a while ago.


Seriously?

You guys think I need 8 logical cores? I was guessing that 4 would due me pretty good.


June 1, 2009 12:34:47 AM

As far as price to performance goes you can forget about the Q9400,it is a great cpu but the phenom 2 940 matches it in everything and even performs better in many other cases (gaming mostly),some of the applications you use are definitely processor hungry however all of the processors you listed will give you the kind of performance you need,the i5 is an attractive choice but you would have to go for the 2.8 ghz one in order to get hyperthreading otherwise there is really no point going lynnfield in my opinion (price to performance wise at least,take away hyperthreading and black edition AM3 quads are pretty much the way to go),the 940 is a very solid choice it is very friendly on the wallet and you get an excellent multi tasker and gaming processor as well,the only way you would really benefit from the i5 is if you get the one with hyperthreading and enable turbo more that way you get eight cores at high clock rate for heavy multi tasking otherwise you really would be fine with the 940 (a phenom 2 quad with 3.0 ghz of speed and and an unlocked multiplier for even better overclocking) personally i would say screw it and go with the 940 (955 if you can afford it)
June 1, 2009 1:03:22 AM

Helloworld_98 said:
^ all intel chipset's are power hungry.


BS.

Prove it. Intel chipsets are in fact very power efficient compared to Nvidia's chipset.
June 1, 2009 1:05:01 AM

natesi said:
wait a sec.

I was looking at processor consumption only.

After looking at total SYSTEM power, it appears the Core i7 chipset is pretty power hungry.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-940,2114-...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-940,2114-...


In terms of performance / watt, Core i7 leaves every other CPU in the dust. But of course, it depends on the programs you will run. Not every program out there will utilize Core i7's full potential.
June 1, 2009 1:41:42 AM

yomamafor1 said:
In terms of performance / watt, Core i7 leaves every other CPU in the dust. But of course, it depends on the programs you will run. Not every program out there will utilize Core i7's full potential.



What that article was pointing out was that the processor itself is very efficent, especially at idle. BUT the chipset is not very efficient -- which is why the total SYSTEM power uses more watts at idle than that of the Phenom's.

The lesson to take away is, it doesn't really matter how much the processor can throttle itself down if you have a power hungry chipset.
June 1, 2009 2:16:52 AM

rooseveltdon said:
.... personally i would say screw it and go with the 940 (955 if you can afford it)


Yeah, I'm gonna pull the trigger on the Phenom 940.

I can't justify the extra $200 to $250 on the i7 system.
The Phenom system (note the word **system**) will consume less power at idle **and** peak, which is a win/win for me.


Here's what I'm going with. I could have easily trimmed $100 or more off the build, but I went with quality stuff:
$109 Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X (looks like a reliable board, has solid state caps, has 2 PCI slots which I will need, and best of all, it's not an ASUS)(Wish it had eSATA, but oh well)
$190 Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz
$ 40 CPU heat sink: Sunbeam Core-Contact Freezer (honestly, this could be overkill, I hope it's not too much weight for the board)(any other suggestions?? -- it must be pretty QUIET though)(also, I'm not overcocking)
$130 Power supply: COOLER MASTER RS-700-AMBA-D3 700W (great user reviews, 80% plus efficient, and quiet)
$90 Fanless, noisless, efficient, video card: HIS Hightech H467PS1GP Radeon HD 4670 1GB (paid a bit more for the fanless/noiseless part, but it will be worth it)
$ 56 RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066. Great timings. Been using G.SKILL for years and love it.
$ 59 Case: Antec Three Hundred (I'll actually buy this local)(looks sweet BUT I'm not sure how the whole "PS at the bottom" thing will work out. And it would be nice if the HD area was removable, but for the price it's hard to complain)(Any other suggestions? -- I'm looking for something reasonable and easy to work on)
$ 30 Optical drive: (haven't decided yet)

Total build comes to about $705 before shipping. Shipping will be a pretty penny, since I refused to use UPS (they are horrible, IMO).

I will be reusing my 150GB WD Raptor and 1TB WD drive, as well as my Audigy 2 soundcard and wireless NIC. All hooked up to a APC 865 watt battery back up.

Look good?

Things I double checked:
* The power supply has an EPS 12v for the mobo
* The gigantic CPU cooler is reported to fit in the Antec 300 -- hopefully it won't interfere with anything on the mobo though....

= )

Thanks.
June 1, 2009 3:04:48 AM

Actually, after looking at some pics of this board in a case, I don't think there's anyway that that CPU cooler I want to use is going to work... especially with the fanless video card.

The heatsink for my fanless video card wraps around to the back of the card. I don't think there's any way it will fit with the the huge CPU heat sink I have picked out.

Here's a pic for reference (same mobo I want to get)
http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/attachment.php?s=...

--------EDIT-------

Hmmm...

Wait a sec.... I could put my video card in the PCI x8 slot I guess....

From what I understand, the bandwidth of PCI x16 isn't fully used anyway, right?
June 1, 2009 3:10:06 AM

natesi said:
What that article was pointing out was that the processor itself is very efficent, especially at idle. BUT the chipset is not very efficient -- which is why the total SYSTEM power uses more watts at idle than that of the Phenom's.

The lesson to take away is, it doesn't really matter how much the processor can throttle itself down if you have a power hungry chipset.


Nope. In terms of overall platform, Core i7 platform still leaves every other CPUs in the dust in terms of performance / watt. However, like I said, it depends on what kind of programs you're running. Gaming for instance is not CPU intensive AT ALL.

June 1, 2009 3:13:11 AM

natesi said:
Actually, after looking at some pics of this board in a case, I don't think there's anyway that that CPU cooler I want to use is going to work... especially with the fanless video card.

The heatsink for my fanless video card wraps around to the back of the card. I don't think there's any way it will fit with the the huge CPU heat sink I have picked out.

Here's a pic for reference (same mobo I want to get)
http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/attachment.php?s=...

--------EDIT-------

Hmmm...

Wait a sec.... I could put my video card in the PCI x8 slot I guess....

From what I understand, the bandwidth of PCI x16 isn't fully used anyway, right?



I think it would help if you would give us a $$ limit please. Also why the aftermarket cpu fan and lame video card?
June 1, 2009 3:25:30 AM

yomamafor1 said:
Nope. In terms of overall platform, Core i7 platform still leaves every other CPUs in the dust in terms of performance / watt. However, like I said, it depends on what kind of programs you're running. Gaming for instance is not CPU intensive AT ALL.


I didn't say "performance / watt". I said "total system power". The core i7 as a *system* (processor and chipset) takes more watts -- BOTH at idle and at max load.

Go back and read the report on Tom's Hardware. The **bottom** graph on both pages looks at **system** (not processor) idle AND max load power usage, respectively.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-940,2114-...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-940,2114-...

June 1, 2009 3:40:19 AM

caamsa said:
I think it would help if you would give us a $$ limit please. Also why the aftermarket cpu fan and lame video card?


There is no dollar limit. I'm simply after a reasonably priced system that will fulfill my needs. At a certain ponit it doesn't make sense to keep upgrading and spending money if you're not going to see noticable gain OR it's more power than you'll ever use.

For me, the Core i7 is better, but not $200 better.


My other goals are:
* quiet
* reliable
* the lower the power/heat consumption, the better.


Video card:
Uhhhmmm... I'm not sure what is "lame" about it. Maybe you can explain what you think is "lame"? Firstly, I need to replace my antiquated x800GTO. Second, I'm not a gamer. Third, I want something quiet (this is fanless). Fourth, I want something efficient -- and this is extremely efficient for the amount of performance I'll be getting. Firth, it's more of a HTPC / PVR type of card, and that's one function my computer will be used for. Ergo, I'd say it fits the bill pretty good. But if you have a better card that meets all those criteria, I'm all ears...???


CPU cooler:
I thought I read somewhere that the Phenom cooler was loud. Well, the cooler I picked out is very efficient due to a great design and a very large fan.

If the stock cooler will do me fine and is quiet then I'll just go with that. But I didn't think that was the case.
June 1, 2009 3:58:58 AM



HA HA. Not even close.

You must think I was born yesterday.

First of all, your graph doesn't say what is being measured. Is it the AVERAGE amount of energy used to process a pice of content? The peak? The TOTAL? Is it measuring PROCESSOR **or** TOTAL SYSTEM. None of this is labled.

Site your source (the actual report/article) so we may all SEE for our selves what this chart is measuring.

My GUESS is that it's the amount of energy used to convert/process a piece of content.

In this case, the processor with the best performance / watt will win, becuase it will also have the shortest processing/render time.

In other words, your graph doesn't prove anything except the amount of energy used over time. In fact, that is essentially how you convert joules to watts: devide joules by the number of seconds. Look it up.

So, again, all you proved is processor efficiency, WHICH I ALREADY SAID is **NOT** what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the number of watts measured at a moment in time while the *system* (once again, that's CPU and chipset) is idle and at max load. I don't know how I can be any more clear.
June 1, 2009 4:07:34 AM

the last resort said:
the reason that the i7 has a lower system power is because that it took less time to complete the test, therefore consuming less energy.


Exactly.
June 1, 2009 4:20:20 AM

natesi said:
There is no dollar limit. I'm simply after a reasonably priced system that will fulfill my needs. At a certain ponit it doesn't make sense to keep upgrading and spending money if you're not going to see noticable gain OR it's more power than you'll ever use.

For me, the Core i7 is better, but not $200 better.


My other goals are:
* quiet
* reliable
* the lower the power/heat consumption, the better.


Video card:
Uhhhmmm... I'm not sure what is "lame" about it. Maybe you can explain what you think is "lame"? Firstly, I need to replace my antiquated x800GTO. Second, I'm not a gamer. Third, I want something quiet (this is fanless). Fourth, I want something efficient -- and this is extremely efficient for the amount of performance I'll be getting. Firth, it's more of a HTPC / PVR type of card, and that's one function my computer will be used for. Ergo, I'd say it fits the bill pretty good. But if you have a better card that meets all those criteria, I'm all ears...???


CPU cooler:
I thought I read somewhere that the Phenom cooler was loud. Well, the cooler I picked out is very efficient due to a great design and a very large fan.

If the stock cooler will do me fine and is quiet then I'll just go with that. But I didn't think that was the case.



Ok my bad I missed some of your info in all the posts. I was just curious. I have more trouble with loud video card fans than cpu fans so I would go with the fan that comes with the cpu and then pass judgment after you power it up.

In regards to the fanless card that is up to you but I would get a better card like a 4850 or a 4870 just in case you decide to play some games. I have a 4850 and it is very quiet and it has the fan that it came with. I am not so big on saving power but you can set conditions in your bios so you system goes into sleep mode when not in use.

Your power supply seems like overkill. I think all of my systems run on 550 watt power supplies or less.

Just my two cents.
June 1, 2009 4:31:51 AM

sweet.

Thanks for the input.

ALSO, I just realized that newegg has a combo on teh PII 955 and the *exact* mobo I want. The savings is so good, it almost negates the additional cost of upgrading. Definately getting the 955 now.

Thanks for all the help again everyone (feel free to keep posting though, if you have any more input).

June 8, 2009 3:52:03 AM

Hi folks, I'm looking to purchase an new computer system myself, and being an AMD/IBM fan I will definitely be going with the AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE, (produce a LOT of heat though)

heres my projected specs

Antec 300 tower (with air filters)
ASUS M4A78 PLUS Motherboard
AMD Phenom II x4 955 B.E. CPU @ 3.2Ghz (stock fan)
4X1 GB DDR3 Corsair 1333Mhz
ASUS NVidia GTS250 1Gb PCIE
Cooler Master 550W extreme PSU
ASUS20x DVD-RW Lightscribe SATA
SEAGATE SATAII HDD 500Gb 16mb

first of all is it worth getting the GTX 260 over the GTS250? or will I not notice any difference.

And what sort of motherboard should I get, I really don't need the on-board graphics since I'm getting an external graphics card?

and Natsi; looks like a sweet machine, well at least compared to your old one, be sure to load the 64 bit edition of Vista/7 or Linux :love:  (you WILL notice the difference)
June 8, 2009 4:33:25 AM

ukee1593 said:
Hi folks, I'm looking to purchase an new computer system myself, and being an AMD/IBM fan I will definitely be going with the AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE, (produce a LOT of heat though)

heres my projected specs

Antec 300 tower (with air filters)
ASUS M4A78 PLUS Motherboard
AMD Phenom II x4 955 B.E. CPU @ 3.2Ghz (stock fan)
4X1 GB DDR3 Corsair 1333Mhz
ASUS NVidia GTS250 1Gb PCIE
Cooler Master 550W extreme PSU
ASUS20x DVD-RW Lightscribe SATA
SEAGATE SATAII HDD 500Gb 16mb

first of all is it worth getting the GTX 260 over the GTS250? or will I not notice any difference.

And what sort of motherboard should I get, I really don't need the on-board graphics since I'm getting an external graphics card?

and Natsi; looks like a sweet machine, well at least compared to your old one, be sure to load the 64 bit edition of Vista/7 or Linux :love:  (you WILL notice the difference)


the upgrade from the GTS250 to the GTX260 will yield some improvement; as to whether you will notice, I'm not sure.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

theres a motherboard that looks really nice, has nice reviews, tons of ports, etc. It will work nicely with the DDR3 and 955. However, it is a single slot PCIe x16 slot, so no SLI, especially since it is an AMD based board. You also lose the 15 combo deal on newegg.

You may also want to look for an CPU fan to keep things a little more cool and quiet.

The Cooler Master PSU appears to be a lower level tier PSU. Try this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Everything else looks good. We'll see if anyone else has input.
June 8, 2009 5:08:00 AM

Hey Ukee,

My install went really great; thanks. I'm writing you from my new computer as we speak.

I'd like to give two absolutely huge "thumbs up" on the Gigabyte board (I got the GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P).

This thing is BUILT. It is by far the sturdiest board I've ever owned in my life (2oz PCB) and I get the impression that it will last nearly forever, especially with the capacitors they used. Oh, and as it turns out, it did have eSATA ports I wanted too; just on a backplate. Oh, and the BIOS is a real pleasure to use.

Honestly, I don't know what this board doesn't have that anyone could possibly want (except more PCI-E slots for 3 or 4 video cards, if you're an extreme gamer). Aside from that, I think it's got everything -- including support for legacy devices -- and is built with a good layout. Plus it's fanless, so nothing to wear out.

The board I got is DDR2, but if you wanted the DDR3 version it's GA-MA790XT-UD4P. Looks like the same exact board, but with DDR3 support (and $30 more).

SOME THINGS about your build.

I have the Antec 300 too. Great case at a great price. My only major beef is that my hard drives are about 10X as loud in this case, compared to my last Antec case -- because this one doesn't have any HDD isolation. So I hear every seek/access the HDD makes. I can't believe what a difference rubber grommets make when mounting a HDD -- it's pretty much everything.

ALSO, on lame thing on the 300 is that the side fan inlet is NOT filtered. I stuck a fan there and am expecting all kinds of dust. But for the price, it's very hard to complain.

Third, no matter what AMD board you go with, if you choose to use AHCI mode for your SATA controllers DO NOT use the generic VISTA AHCI driver. The performance is DEPLORABLE. D/L the driver right off AMD's site -- your SATA performance will double. The driver is extremely hard to find though -- you will thank me for this:

http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_catalyst.aspx?driver=...


Actually, there are two different kinds SATA controller chips on this board. You only need to get the AMD AHCI drivers for the main ones. If you're using the purple SATA connectors on the board, that uses a Gigabyte SATA driver, which is on the disc, or easy to find on their site (actually the CD's drivers were reasonably up to date, if not the latest in some cases).

BUT if it were me, I wouldn't bother with AHCI mode unless you were doing RAID (you would have to) or using an eSATA drive (for hot swapping). Other than that, there's really no benefit for internal, single, SATA drives -- except for native command queing. But it's debatable how much that helps.

Ultimately, I configured the purple Gigabyte SATA connectors for eSATA using AHCI mode, for hot swapping. And I got the most reliable performance from the other 6 SATA connectors using the standard VISTA dual channel IDE driver (SATA in "IDE mode" through the BIOS). Even the AMD SATA driver in IDE mode didn't seem as fast as the generic VISTA one, but it was so close it was a tough call.

Fourth, your RAM speed.... read this: http://www.overclockersclub.com/news/24052/

Your RAM will run at DDR800 at first -- probably no matter what board you buy.

All I had to do was go into the BIOS and set it manually. Gigabyte even automatically upped the voltage for me. No problems.

June 9, 2009 8:22:50 AM

Thanks for the feedback;

Glad you got that computer up and running ok, Gee all that information makes me shy away from building this computer, (would be my first time to ever build a computer from the ground up, only done RAM, HDD upgrades previously) Where I am going to buy my parts from they don't have that mobo as yet, and I don't suppose Newegg ships to Australia (damn slack aren't they). Oh well I'll wait a while and maybe they'll get that mobo, and besides it need to gather up my courage to build this thing.

Also in terms of build quality which one out of ASUS and GIGABYTE is better? I had always thought that ASUS was better.

Also already bookmarked those links, grateful that you posted them
June 9, 2009 1:16:24 PM

my first build i used an ASUS, but when i get a new MOBO i will be getting a Gigabyte most likely.
a b à CPUs
September 4, 2009 6:31:32 PM

just remember as soon as you overclock that P2 you lose ALL of your energy efficiency. overclocked P2s will consume more power than any other quad HANDS DOWN. if 'being green' is coming into play... p2 stock is ok, p2 overclock is a no no.
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