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Core i7 Bloomfield/Gulftown or Core i7 Sandy Bridge?

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January 11, 2011 10:58:40 PM

So I've been looking in the market to buy a new setup for a while now. For the longest time, I had my sights set on a i7 950. But then Intel decides to release their new second generation Sandy Bridge i7 processors, which has left me with other choices aside from the 950 I've been wanting for so long.

I've done some searching on the interwebs, and I've read up on some things, such as comparisons and benchmarks between the two processors. But the results seem skewed for certain sites, so I'm left in the dust with no viable benchmarking results or comparisons.

I know that the 1155 processors are meant to replace the 1156s and aren't really meant to replace the 1336 CPUs. I also realize that the Sandy Bridge series is meant to be a mainstream consumer product, whereas the Bloomfield/Gulftown series is meant to be an enthusiast consumer product. However, from what I've gathered, the 2600ks are very much comparable to a lot of the 1336s. Some even state that the 2600ks are comparable to the i7 980x due to its advanced overclocking capabilities. Although I'm finding this hard to believe since the Gulftown 980xs are six-core processors, as opposed to the four-core Sandy Bridge processors.

Other things I've gathered is that the performance of the 2600ks vary greatly on the motherboards that are coupled with it (more so than your standard CPU/Mobo coupling). Such as the integrated graphics not working, the CPU multiplier not working, etc. Making research for the motherboards that much more tedious.

The new 2011 (socket type) Ivy Bridge series will surely knock the last gen enthusiast i7s out of the ball park, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to wait a whole year for them to release.


tl;dr: So, for those of you familiar with all the latest and greatest computer technology has to offer, I ask you: Should I buy a 1336 Bloomfield setup (Core i7 950) and then upgrade to a Gulftown processor later down the road (Core i7 Extreme) or should I get a 1155 2600k setup? Or should I really wait a whole year for the new Ivy Bridges?

Note: I'll mostly use it for high-end gaming and some simple video/photo editing. I have a Radeon 6870 that I plan on SLi'ng sometime in the near future, if that makes any difference.
January 11, 2011 11:01:57 PM

I went with sandy bridge. I'm not looking for a quad channel super computer faster than the pentagon's data center. I just wanted something newer in hopes it resolves my own problems I'm having with my current computer. it should it's 100% faster than what I have which is a xeon 3360, DDR2, 8800gts 512. I got a core i7 2600k, ddr3, and geforce 570.
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January 11, 2011 11:03:18 PM

You don't specify what your usage is but I would recommend not getting the i7 950 as there is no benefit at all over the 2600K except the more PCIE lanes. I would wait for more motherboard reviews for 1055 before getting it though.
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January 11, 2011 11:18:06 PM

Sorry. I updated the opening post for what I'll be using it for. Mostly for high-end gaming. I have a Radeon 6870 that I plan on SLi'ng sometime in the near future, if that makes any difference.

The only reason I'd get the 950 is because of the 1336 socket. Eventually, those 980xs are going to go down in price. And when they do, I'm going to get one (if I go the 1336 route) I'm just wondering if those 980x have a huge significant advantage over the 2600ks. And whether or not it's worth sticking to the older 1336 technology.
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January 11, 2011 11:24:41 PM

The asus extreme4 might be something you'll want to look out for. It's sandy bridge and supports tri-sli i think. It has the n200 chipset to add more pcie lanes.

I'm doing gaming also and sandy bridge is fine for gaming IMO.

X-Legend said:
Sorry. I updated the opening post for what I'll be using it for. Mostly for high-end gaming. I have a Radeon 6870 that I plan on SLi'ng sometime in the near future, if that makes any difference.

The only reason I'd get the 950 is because of the 1336 socket. Eventually, those 980xs are going to go down in price. And when they do, I'm going to get one (if I go the 1336 route) I'm just wondering if those 980x have a huge significant advantage over the 2600ks. And whether or not it's worth sticking to the older 1336 technology.

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January 11, 2011 11:27:01 PM

THe asus p67 deluxe 1155 socket has sli (x-fire) support also at x8 x8 - Which i think is more than enough using the new full pcie 2.0 spec that sandy bridge has.
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January 12, 2011 12:14:49 AM

Call me old school - I like the i7's with the triple channel memory and crossfireX/SLI 3 way at X16. Far as I know you can't do that with the other chips/boards Ooooohh there's not much difference in dual X16 lanes over dual X8 lanes but I don't see any 3 way X8 lanes for the other chips - and you can barely tell the difference between double and triple channel memory BUT, there IS a difference, and it is recordable, and, you can put more memory in 6 slots than you can 4 slots so HEY it's my favorite. And that goes for both the 1156 and the 1155 suckets. 1366 is the way to go. Haven't found a thing yet mine can't do quickly with excellent graphics and NO LAG. And I'm waiting on the price to drop on the 980-X so I can do the same thing with 6 cores and 12 threads as opposed to the 4 cores and 8 threads that I'm using now. Shoot, I got a used 965 extreme for only $400 months ago so the wait shouldn't be long now. That's why it's an ENTHUSIASTS' Chip. The 1155 will come out with it's EE chip also but that will take a year and then you should wait some more months while the testing and benchmarking with different boards and manufacturers is done so I say go for it now. And yes, it's a "dead socket" since their won't be any new versions of CPU's for it but the ones out now are awesome!! Besides, the way intel goes - oh yeah. the EE sockets are 2011 so they're already going to a new one next year. So start with the 1366 socket now and see how long it lasts It will be YEARS before that combination is anything like bottlenecking any games or software that come out for quite a while.
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January 12, 2011 12:36:29 AM

Quote:
The new 2011 (socket type) Ivy Bridge series will surely knock the last gen enthusiast i7s out of the ball park, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to wait a whole year for them to release.


Figure 5-6 months.

Quote:
Sorry. I updated the opening post for what I'll be using it for. Mostly for high-end gaming. I have a Radeon 6870 that I plan on SLi'ng sometime in the near future, if that makes any difference.


You would wanna X-fire those 6870's not SLI them.... SLI is an nVidia thing, X-Fire an ATI thing.

I'll mostly use it for high-end gaming and some simple video/photo editing.

Video editing programs can utilize CUDA ..... ATI / 6870's don't support CUDA, it's another one of those nVidia things.

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January 12, 2011 12:51:16 AM

^ Sorry about that mixup. But yeah, you're correct.

I'm seeing a lot of people saying that the 2600k is comparable to the 980x.

With the 1155 route, I know I'm losing out on triple channel memory and PCI-e 16x bus lanes as seen on the 1366s. But I heard the differences between the triple channel vs dual channel and PCI-e 16x vs 8x are negligible. Is this really the case? If so, it seems like the 1155 route is the better choice. Not to mention that the Ivy Bridges are coming out with enthusiast CPUs with the 1155 sockets, correct? That means the 1155s are also future-proof.
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January 12, 2011 1:07:56 AM

Do the Extreme Edition CPUs ever really significantly drop in price? You see one model slide down the pricing curve when a successor slides in. At best, would the 980X slide down to the current price of a $800 975 hex core... or a $600 960 quad core?

Getting the 980X after buying your $300 950, could still have you $1000 into CPUs (could sell the 950 to help fund). At some point, when you're dropping a better part of a grand into CPU, the $200 mobo becomes a smaller part of the pie.

Wikipedia's SB table suggests the 6/12 and 8/16 core/threaded SB chips are coming Q4/2011. If you don't need the performance now... I'd hold out. If your current rig is sluggish... you can do a stop gap upgrade now for $500... sell it for $400 when the Ivy Bridge octo-cores come out and go crazy! :) 

The stop gap could either be the lga1366 with a 950... or a 2600K on a good P67. If the reviews are true that the 2600Ks are beating the hex-cores... you might not even need to upgrade until Haswell comes out. 2600K plus P67 might resell better in a year... but who knows :) 

Good luck! Let us know which way you go.
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January 12, 2011 1:38:12 AM

I recently saw Microcenter selling the 2600ks for around $280 (USD):

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Of course, they also so the 950s for around $230.

If I decide to go the 2600k route, do any of you have any recommendations for a decent p67 motherboard for gaming and overclocking?
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January 12, 2011 1:42:09 AM

Quote:
1155 cpu are very good. an OC 2600k (4.4 on air easily) beats stock 980x in most benches.
though for games, a better gpu is more recommended.

i would suggest buying the 2600k and making do with x8/x8 xfire.
the difference between x8/x8 and x16/x16 is less than 5%.



The problem with these statements are that you will only be able to do one or the other with the k series processor. You can overclock it and use discrete graphics or you can leave it at stock speed and use the graphics portion.
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January 12, 2011 1:51:05 AM

suteck said:
Quote:
1155 cpu are very good. an OC 2600k (4.4 on air easily) beats stock 980x in most benches.
though for games, a better gpu is more recommended.

i would suggest buying the 2600k and making do with x8/x8 xfire.
the difference between x8/x8 and x16/x16 is less than 5%.



The problem with these statements are that you will only be able to do one or the other with the k series processor. You can overclock it and use discrete graphics or you can leave it at stock speed and use the graphics portion.
I have a relatively good graphics card (Radeon 6870), so the graphics portion of the processor doesn't really concern me all that much.
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January 12, 2011 1:58:52 AM

I think that's just it though. If you have a good graphics card then you won't be able to overclock because the chip will use the cores for running the pcie lane(s). If you have a discrete gpu then you can overclock. At least that's the way I understand it.
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January 12, 2011 2:13:31 AM

Hmm. I hadn't read up on anything like that. Certainly not in any of the benchmarking tests I've seen.
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January 12, 2011 4:08:14 AM

Hi Guys - Interestingly I was about to start another thread on exactly the debate you're having here, hope I can join in as I'm in the same boat - about to buy a new system (which the missus has allowed and prob won't allow again for a couple years lol). I had my build all set to buy based on an X58 (Asus Rampage III Formula), an i7 950 (watercooled) and 2x GTX570 in SLI driving my 3x 24" monitors @5760x1200 - (at x16x16 with the option to add a 3rd 570 later and have x16,x8,8). It's going to be purely targeted at high-end gaming (and overclocking cause I've just enjoyed doing it ever since the days of a pentium60) and needs to last me a couple of years without a rebuild...
Then I start reading the reviews on Sandybridge and It's confused the heck out of me. Do I go with what is 'mature' tech in the X58 or the newcomer 2600K / P67 sandy bridge which (correct away here) seems like a blazing fast processor for gaming that is inhibited by woefully immature motherboards. The only mobo that seems decent with sandybridge so far is the P67 ASUS Maximus 4 (using a N200 chip to give the option for x8,x8 native or x8,x8,x8 if a 3rd card is installed) but even it's reviews don't seem that impressive.

Surprised this debate isn't hotter yet. Thoughts?
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January 12, 2011 5:20:22 AM

^ Yeah, I heard good things about the ASUS Maximus 4 as well. And yes, please guys, the more opinions, the better.
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January 12, 2011 10:01:56 PM

Maybe this will help. I went to dozens of reviews from credited sources, (No forums giving their opinions), and came up with the following compilation. Most of you guys probably already know this stuff but I'm looking at new tech for future builds and I found these interesting for the Overclocker Enthusiasts and future builders. And I think it might explain some of the questions brought up in this thread.

There will be two types of integrated graphics enabled on Sandy Bridge parts: 1 core and 2 core parts. Intel refers to them as GT1 and GT2, respectively. The GT1 parts have 6 execution units (EUs), while the GT2 parts have 12.
At launch there will be two versions of Sandy Bridge graphics: one with 6 EUs and one with 12 EUs. All mobile parts (at launch) will use 12 EUs, while desktop SKUs may either use 6 or 12 depending on the model. From what I’ve heard, the higher end SKUs may have 12 while the lower end models will have 6. With a 2x improvement in throughput per EU, you should see greater than Intel HD Graphics performance even with the 6 EU parts (thanks to higher clock speeds and the GPU sharing the L3 cache). Sandy Bridge supports the older DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3 graphics technology that will be featured in the first batch. At launch Intel is offering two chipset families for Sandy Bridge: P-series and H-series, just like with Lynnfield. The high level differentiation is easy to understand: P-series doesn’t support processor graphics, H-series does. There are other differences as well. The P67 chipset supports 2x8 CrossFire and SLI while H67 only supports a single x16 slot off of the SNB CPU (the chip has 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes that stem from it). While H67 allows for memory and graphics overclocking, it doesn’t support any amount of processor overclocking. If you want to overclock your Sandy Bridge, you need a P67 motherboard
AnandTech HERE - The P67 chipset lets you overclock CPU and memory but it lacks the flexible display interface necessary to support SNB’s HD Graphics. The H67 chipset has an FDI so you can use the on-die GPU, however it doesn’t support CPU overclocking—only memory. What about those users who don’t need a discrete GPU but still want to overclock their CPUs? With the chipsets that Intel is launching today, you’re effectively forced to buy a discrete GPU if you want to overclock your CPU

Overclocking of Socket-1155 compatible processors through modifying the default 100 MHz base clock speed is very limited, probably to about only 2–3% at most, due to the factory integrating a single clock generator to control the speed of all electrical buses. Hence, the base clock (BCLK) of the clock generator has to be kept close to the default 100 MHz base clock to prevent other hardware components from failing to work. However, Intel will allow overclocking through modifying the unlocked clock multiplier of up to 57 times the speed of base clock, which will be available in K-edition processors. K - Processors feature unlocked CPU clock multipliers. If you’re eager to overclock, rule out the low-end chips--they’re completely locked as AnandTech explains. What once was a component on the motherboard, the PLL is now on the 6-series chipset die. The integrated PLL feeds a source clock to everything from the SATA and PCIe controllers to the SNB CPU itself. With many components driven off of this one clock, Intel has locked it down pretty tight. 103—105MHz as the upper limit for what you’re going to get out of BCLK overclocking. In other words: next to nothing. A 105MHz BCLK overclock on a Core i7-2600 will take you from a stock speed of 3.4GHz to a whopping 3.57GHz. The form of overclocking we’ve been using for the past decade is effectively dead on Sandy Bridge.
2500K HD 3000 (12 EUs)
2600K HD 3000 (12 EUs
2600 HD & 2600S 2000 (6 EUs)
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January 13, 2011 10:33:03 AM

Hi suteck - thanks for the good review. You're right on all that and I think its safe to say most / all people interested in hardcore gaming and overclocking on sandybridge with the current offerings should be only considering a 'K' processor (2500K, 2600K) which has an unlocked multiplier to facilitate high overclocking, on a 'P' motherboard chipset (which allows this overclocking) and using a separate dedicated PCIe Graphics card or two (radeon or nvidia) which immediately disables the CPU's onboard graphics GPU (which can't handle gaming and is directX 10 limited).
What will really bake your noodle though, as they say, is whether this combination will outperform / be a better investment than having those graphics cards plugged into an X58 chipset motherboard and (LGA1366) core i7 CPU.
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January 13, 2011 2:11:49 PM

LOL I say no of coarse - I run the X58 board with 2 video cards and a 965 overclocked to 4.6GHz. With both cards running on X16 lanes and I can add a third and run at X16 X8 X8 all day long. Not to mention at the direct X 11. I also run 12 GB's of 1600 triple channel memory that the sandy's can't do. They can only run 1333 memory and that at the dual channel level. All the benchmarks say that there's little difference between Dual X16's and dual X8's as well as you can only see the difference between dual and triple channel memory sets in benchmarking and you wouldn't notice the difference in real life terms. But the differences are there. The sandy's have shown that some of them can keep up with the 980-X in some benchmarking tests and with the difference in price who can touch that???
But we're comparing apples to oranges hahaha. The current sandy bridges that have come out are user friendly, biggest market share, affordable chips for the public. Kinda like the 950. Price for performance you really can't beat the upper-end sandys. They are being thrown against the performance chips of the earlier era and holding their own.
However, If you wait for another year of so you will be seeing the real performers coming out with that architecture. The higher end chips with all the extra cores and the extra enthusiasts' crazed performance enhancements. And as usual the price will be going up as well.
Honestly - And I hate to be honest - The best way to look at it is to paper build one of each with all the features you want and can get and adjust those builds to come in line with whatever your expected budget is going to be. Then get the one you like best. You will have to keep in mind though that the sandy just came out and Intel held the specs and manufacturing close so nothing would leak. It's only been since their release that the motherboard companies can really start making boards that will be able to take advantage of all the features on that die. And that's gonna take a couple of months probably, and then to be able to do it less expensively will take a little while longer. So while the sandy's are out and everybody wants one, people will be making adjustments to hardware and changing it out as the new chips come into their own with supported hardware.
And YES, if your gonna buy the new processors and you're not working on a "budget build" then your only choice is the 2500 or 2600 chips. And if you're gonna get one of those chips you'd be stupid not to get the K series. It's only $11 to $20 more. Unlike before when you had to go from $300 for a solid work horse to $1000 for performance.
Oh yeah, you asked about which will out perform / be a better investment? The 2 are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. If you're gonna build a performance board you will always pay a premium. And if you pay enough of a premium it will last a LOOONG time. But both of them will be outdone in a couple years.
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January 13, 2011 2:21:29 PM

I went with a 2600K & GTX580. I can max out the Crysis series and Metro 2033 @ 1920x1080 and that's just stock. Once I get my colling situated I'll probably OC to 4.5Ghz.

I would recommend going with the 2600K, much lower cost of entry and performs very close to thew 980x in games. They will eventually release new procs for thew 1155 socket so you can always upgrade, whereas 1366 is being replaced by 2011 later this year.
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January 13, 2011 2:24:18 PM

I can max out Metro at 1920x1080 on a 4 core phenom @ 3.7GHz and crossfire 4870s 512Mb versions (never played crysis). A 580 is overkill for 1920x1080.
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January 13, 2011 4:39:50 PM

Extremes, the 980X will most likely never come down in price... Truth in this "There are too many people that know nothing about the processor and too many who know enough about it to keep the price high"

Maybe when we enter quantum computing and 64-bit becomes obsolete then maybe it could come down in price, until then I can see it staying 900+.

Ivy bridge 2011 sockets can and will most likely blow the 980 out of the water and obliterate it, and also cost 300-500 for a good enthusiast chip... yet the 980X will stay high because most will not want to get a new board and unless you are actually using programs designed to use multiple cores, were good!

I have a i7 930 OC to 4.2Ghz on air completely prime 95 stable and couldnt be happier. A 980X would be of no benefit to me what so ever except to lighten my wallet.
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January 13, 2011 7:58:39 PM

Nice info! - Now we're talkin. I think what was concerning me about sandy / P67 is exactly those benchmark performance losses you get going down to x8 x8 pcie lanes for SLI (5% loss over x16 x16 - and no one likes to consider ANY % loss when investing so much money in graphics) and back to double channel 1333 rather than triple 2000+. Afraid I can't wait a year as there will always be that next showstopper around the corner, but definitely wanted to try and limit the next upgrade to 1 or 2 components rather than a whole new build. When I get some more time I'll post up 2 considered builds for comparison - though I'm in Australia so pricing may be a bit different.
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January 13, 2011 8:26:37 PM

Well I have the 2600K, asus deluxe 1155, Corsair 2x 4GB DDR3 1600, and a geforce gtx 570. All I can say is it's retarded fast. It's so fast it's stupid. Definitely noticeable coming from a quad core xeon 3360, 4x 2GB DDR2 800, and a geforce 8800 gts 512.

Tw33kR said:
Nice info! - Now we're talkin. I think what was concerning me about sandy / P67 is exactly those benchmark performance losses you get going down to x8 x8 pcie lanes for SLI (5% loss over x16 x16 - and no one likes to consider ANY % loss when investing so much money in graphics) and back to double channel 1333 rather than triple 2000+. Afraid I can't wait a year as there will always be that next showstopper around the corner, but definitely wanted to try and limit the next upgrade to 1 or 2 components rather than a whole new build. When I get some more time I'll post up 2 considered builds for comparison - though I'm in Australia so pricing may be a bit different.

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January 13, 2011 8:40:43 PM

First off great information being listed... I am currently in the market as well and although I could propably hold off until the end of 2011 to see what Ivy Bridge brings us... I stright out like to build custom PC's =) My current rig is a

Q9650 3.0 OC' to 3.6 FSB is @ 400
8GIG DDR3 @ 1585 mhz
x295 SLi = Quad with a 9600GT as a dedicated Physx.

I believe all I should really do is get two newer GPU' and call my rig complete until the end of 2011, but as everyone else is interested in the new Sandy bridge models as am I!

My question is, is the 1155 socket here to stay? or when they do away with 1336 what is the new socket? "I don’t expect and answer as Ivy bridge isn’t very clear yet"

But I am sure you guys can see what I am getting at... and what you all have been debating about... go with a 1336 or 1155 SB...

As for me I really wanted that 980x it was my plan but now SB has me thinking... haha
In all honesty I believe I am going to wait out the year and go big a few months after Ivy’s release… I just need a new Graphics card to run DX11! =) 10.1 just isn’t cutting it… not to mention Dead Space2 is out in just under 2weeks now!
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February 14, 2011 6:30:58 AM

Is this correct:

Ivy Bridge = LGA 2011 = the replacement for socket 1366
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February 14, 2011 8:43:28 AM

Ivy Bridge will be available in 1155 and 2011 forms.

What's around the corner will really blow your mind: The Intel High End Desk Top (HEDT) platform code-named Waimea Bay. Sandy Bridge E processors and Patsburg PCH.

Socket 2011. Four or six cores. Hyperthreading. Forty (40) PCIe Gen 3 lanes (enables three-way SLI without PCIe bridge chips; X58 has 36 PCIe Gen 2 lanes). Quad-channel RAM officially supporting up to DDR3-1600 speeds. Up to 15MB of L3 cache. Overclocking-friendly Extreme Edition available. Integrated Gigabit LAN controller (no more Realtek). Two SATA3 ports, four SATA2 ports, six SATA3/SAS ports (no more Marvell). Fourteen (14) USB 2.0 ports (no USB 3.0 still).

Whee! Sounds like fun times to be had in the future...
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February 14, 2011 1:32:25 PM

That's good to know. I bought 2 cheetah 2 SAS 6 GB/s drives awhile back when the ASUS boards came out with the onboard SAS, (Marvell), and thought I was on the cutting edge. Only to find that nobody else was making 'em. I thought "what a waste of money" since I wasn't seeing it and then the S-ata 6 GB/s came out and I was wondering what to do with them. If the new boards are coming out with the SAS - 2 then I can't wait to get the new E series, 2011 boards and cpu's. Thanks for the update.
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February 14, 2011 2:29:06 PM

I just don't know how you tell all of these Bloomfields, etc apart.
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February 15, 2011 7:46:08 AM

The Intel processor lineup is indeed very confusing...

I'm trying to find out when the replacement for the high end segment, socket 1366, will be released.

Does anyone know when and what name the processors/platform will have?


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February 15, 2011 8:42:03 AM

1. No point in waiting for a 980X to go down in price since the 2600K beats it in gaming benches
2. Ivy Bridge will be on socket 1155 too
3. I have never heard of the motherboard having that much effect on a Sandy Bridge CPU performance.
4. Most multipliers work fine and get to 4.2-4.6 ghz easily
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