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I7-820qm vs. i7-920 Quad (Nehalem) in a laptop?

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January 30, 2010 5:07:37 AM

Hello everyone,

I'm a sound designer and run a studio, but also do alot of mobile jobs too.

Recently i decided to just jump in and purchase a Sager 8760 laptop with a i7-820qm. I dropped quite a bit of cash and am pretty satisfied with it.

Now i'm looking at the core clock speeds when i'm working and i have yet to see them jump to the supposed maximum, even when i am processing enough to get the CPUs to 100%. The highest i've seen them clock to is 2.6ghz.

Anyhow, the short of it is this: am i being too picky in expecting this PC to do everything in the universe i can throw at it, or should i have gone with something that has a standard desktop processor (Sager themselves has the 9280 which is configured with nehalem CPUs at higher speed) and drop another $300 or so?

Will this 8760 take an upgrade to a regular 920 Quad Nehalem, or is it a different socket?

Thanks for all your help, i've been lurking tom's hardware forums for a long time and never had anything i had to ask before now. Please help!
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January 30, 2010 1:09:17 PM

Hello and welcome to the forums :) 
i7 920 desktop is faster than a i7 820M but it consumes more power and therefor you will have less battery life.
Also you can't put an i7 920 desktop into a laptop which has i7M in it since they use different sockets.
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January 30, 2010 9:59:33 PM

Maziar said:
Hello and welcome to the forums :) 
i7 920 desktop is faster than a i7 820M but it consumes more power and therefor you will have less battery life.
Also you can't put an i7 920 desktop into a laptop which has i7M in it since they use different sockets.


Hey Mazier cheers for the welcome, glad to be here and thanks for your answer.

Do you know how big the difference would be in performance, or how far along the i7 m line is as far as upgradeability? I would like to be able to put new processors in this laptop for as long as possible - which is more future proof, the m-line or the desktop line?
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January 31, 2010 3:16:06 AM

Generally speaking, desktop is always more future proof. Laptops are not exactly upgrade friendly.
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January 31, 2010 6:22:33 AM

phylum_sinter said:
Hey Mazier cheers for the welcome, glad to be here and thanks for your answer.

Do you know how big the difference would be in performance, or how far along the i7 m line is as far as upgradeability? I would like to be able to put new processors in this laptop for as long as possible - which is more future proof, the m-line or the desktop line?

Definitely the desktop versions are more upgradeable since SAGER NP9280 (Clevo D900F) has a X58 chipset therefor it supports all current i7 CPUs which require X58 chipset(1366 chipset).
So in terms of upgrade-ability and performance,i7 desktop models would be better but as i said they will consume more power.
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January 31, 2010 3:35:50 PM

phylum_sinter said:
Hello everyone,

I'm a sound designer and run a studio, but also do alot of mobile jobs too.

Recently i decided to just jump in and purchase a Sager 8760 laptop with a i7-820qm. I dropped quite a bit of cash and am pretty satisfied with it.


Anyhow, the short of it is this: am i being too picky in expecting this PC to do everything in the universe i can throw at it, or should i have gone with something that has a standard desktop processor (Sager themselves has the 9280 which is configured with nehalem CPUs at higher speed) and drop another $300 or so?



Well, I am also a musician and I run my own studio and I don't think that there is any sequencer or sound editing software that needs more raw power than i7-820qm.To answer in your question, you cannot upgrade to a i7 desktop processor, because your laptop has a PM55 chipset (compatible with mobile i7 CPUs), while desktop i7 processors need X58 as Maziar mentioned.However, if you want to tell me what software you use, I will probably be able to tell you how much performance difference you could expect with a desktop i7-920-based setup.I am surprised that a sound engineer uses a Clevo 8760.The noise is tolerable, only if you wear headphones.
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February 1, 2010 11:48:50 AM

Hi NST,

I bought the 8760 after owning a Dell Inspiron from 2004 - the noise the 8760 is much less than the Dell ever was, even with the fans running full blast. I tend to use headphone monitors for the tasks that require very precision hearing, but when making beats and stuff the fan noise hasn't bothered me.

What has bothered me about the 8760, however, is the groundloop hum that i experienced after installing an Echo Indigo DJ expresscard. But that's another story.

Back to the software question - i use Sound Forge, Cubase, Max/MSP, and FL Studio primarily as hosts. I have already maxxed out the processor doing some granular/fft transformations and even some VSTi's that have ultra quality modes can bring it to 100% too (Native Instrument's Massive, in particular is good at this - anything above 12 voices and things rise above 60% CPU).

Do you think the i7 desktop and laptop lines are both at the same point as far as lifespan/upgradeability, or is one line closer to the peak already?

Thanks for your help.
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Best solution

February 2, 2010 1:47:51 PM

phylum_sinter said:

Back to the software question - i use Sound Forge, Cubase, Max/MSP, and FL Studio primarily as hosts. I have already maxxed out the processor doing some granular/fft transformations and even some VSTi's that have ultra quality modes can bring it to 100% too (Native Instrument's Massive, in particular is good at this - anything above 12 voices and things rise above 60% CPU).


About CPU usage:how much memory has your laptop?When working with multi-track material, memory makes a huge difference.That's why many pro studio DAWs feature server CPUs, because servers can handle much more memory. Sager NP9280 (Clevo D900F) has a big advantage over your current laptop other than the CPU, it has 3 memory slots.Also, it is compatible with desktop memory modules, which means it can utilise faster memory.Due to this and to the differences of the 2 processors' speeds (i7-820QM and i7-920), the Sager NP9280 aka Clevo D900F is approximately 50% better in terms of performance.Contrary to this, battery is in favor of your machine by 50%.Weight is also an issue with SAGER NP9280.

phylum_sinter said:
Do you think the i7 desktop and laptop lines are both at the same point as far as lifespan/upgradeability, or is one line closer to the peak already?


That's a tough question to answer.I cannot be sure because I am not an Intel executive myself neither I have someone in the family.It is officially announced that there will be two new i7 desktop processors in 2010, the i7-930 which will replace the 920 (the processor you were considering to purchase) and the i7-980X, a six-core CPU, which will replace the i7-975.It isn't officially announced but I think that there will be also some mobile i7 released later this year*.However, you have to remember that, when it's about upgradeability, it doesn't matter from what line is the processor but what socket it is compatible with.For example Lynnfield processors (Core i7-8xx) are i7 but they are compatible with LGA 1156 and not with LGA 1366 like I7-9XX.My personal view, based on informations that aren't confirmed, is that both desktop and mobile i7 have a great future ahead them (when I say great, I mean two years from now).

In your case: Generally, desktops are more upgreadable, their CPUs are faster than laptops' and they have a bigger lifespan too.That's why having a laptop that supports desktop processors is a wise investment.But you recently bought a laptop so consider the following:

a)In laptops raw power isn't the only factor of the success of a product.There is company I know that makes mobile workstations and servers.Their products are just like briefcases.Their internal (of the briefcases) is the laptop, if we can call it laptop.When you open this briefcase, the one side is the screen and the other the keyboard, under which are all the vital components of the computer.These computers are about 10kg heavy and they have zero battery life, when unplugged but they are really powerful, they feature dual Xeon and quad Opteron setups.What I am trying to say is that you 've got to define your own personal meaning of the term ''mobility''.It will be helpful for your future purchases.
b)If you want to upgrade, buy RAM.(Assuming that you currently have 4GB,) you can buy 8GB for about 370$ on eBay.I don't recommend buying a new laptop because yours is still new and pretty decent and you can spend your money for a desktop computer or some new equipment for your studio (mics,monitors,preamps,converters,acoustic treatment, etc).

*Arrandale processors were recently released for laptops but I don't mention them cause they have lower performance than i7-820, so you probably aren't interested.
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February 9, 2010 5:57:04 AM

Best answer selected by phylum_sinter.
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February 9, 2010 6:11:10 AM

NST said:
About CPU usage:how much memory has your laptop?When working with multi-track material, memory makes a huge difference.That's why many pro studio DAWs feature server CPUs, because servers can handle much more memory. Sager NP9280 (Clevo D900F) has a big advantage over your current laptop other than the CPU, it has 3 memory slots.Also, it is compatible with desktop memory modules, which means it can utilise faster memory.Due to this and to the differences of the 2 processors' speeds (i7-820QM and i7-920), the Sager NP9280 aka Clevo D900F is approximately 50% better in terms of performance.Contrary to this, battery is in favor of your machine by 50%.Weight is also an issue with SAGER NP9280.


Thanks for your thoughtful consideration - this is what i was really wondering about. 3 weeks in and i'm growing more comfortable with the 8760 i purchased in mid January, though there are still hiccups in audio that i hope will be addressed by further tweaking and windows 7 updates. It is very disheartening, though, to have audio 'zipper' as it is every now and then, not just when i'm working on things but even in Winamp while using firefox too!. Even my old Dell Inspiron didn't have this trouble! Maybe there are some adjustments i have yet to discover for Windows 7...

NST said:
b)If you want to upgrade, buy RAM.(Assuming that you currently have 4GB,) you can buy 8GB for about 370$ on eBay.I don't recommend buying a new laptop because yours is still new and pretty decent and you can spend your money for a desktop computer or some new equipment for your studio (mics,monitors,preamps,converters,acoustic treatment, etc).


Good call. I did upgrade the Clevo to maximum ram when i initially ordered it.

Maybe i will have to get a dedicated desktop too then for recording. I have plenty of hardware that records already, but getting it to interface with this laptop is being a burden too. Gone through two audio interfaces so far with no luck - a Saffire Pro 24, which was good when it worked but the audio just stopped every 40 seconds or so with no explanation, and the device would become unresponsive (i blame not having new firewire driver support for win7 by focusrite for this - they mention having to use the legacy drivers), and a Echo Indigo Express Card, whole inputs were so noisy i couldnt foresee using them for anything at all.
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February 10, 2010 11:24:09 AM

Firstly, I would like to thank you for choosing my answer as the best one.

About your problems with 8760: As you may have already realised, Clevos have many advantages but workmanship isn't one of them.In addition, your laptop is optimised for gaming , not for being a mobile workstation.One of the rival companies of Clevo is Dell.So, I will use Dell as an example.Dell has a brand that targets gamers, Alienware.It has also a workstation line, the Precision line.Let's compare the Alienware and the Precision lines of laptops.They both are high-end and most of their components are the same (e.g. processors).They both have high-end video cards, Alienware for gaming and Precision for digital content creation.However, if you make an equal (power-wise) configuration, the Precision will be much more expensive.You can try it with Alienware m17x and Precision M6500 or M6400.The reason for this difference in price is that Precisions have an ISV certification and they are empowered by Digidesign, maker of high-end audio creation products.This means they are optimised for music production and they are supposed to work without problems you may witness when using other laptops for studio purposes (drivers' failure, poor quality audio inputs, feedback, etc).In this point I have to mention that the person who writes these lines is actually considering buying a Clevo notebook.

About your audio interfaces:A nice and cheap all-in-one audio interface I have used is M-audio Profire 610.Now if you want, something better, you may have to consider getting a dedicated unit for A/D conversion and separate preamps, as the majority of professionals.

About notebooks for music production purposes generally:Ιf you can avoid them, do it.Today laptops are mostly used by musicians who travel a lot and want to write music on-the-go and by producers who operate in more than 1 studios and need a laptop for having all their material in one mobile computer.However, they have neither the capabilities nor the stability of a desktop.

If I can help in any way, I will be happy to. :) 

P.S.Buying better cables may help reduce the amount of feedback you are hearing.
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