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Sandybridge i5 vs. Bloomfield i7 for platform refresh

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November 15, 2011 4:58:23 PM

I'm looking to do a platform refresh for my main box (specs in sig) to have me set for another 2.5 -3 years. I just recently got a pretty decent deal on the 6870 1GB that replaced 2 4850s but it seems like I'm pretty significantly CPU bound in games and video encoding. I could potentially see adding a second 6870 in Crossfire (assuming my PSU will handle it w/ the new CPU and RAM) or replacing my current 6870 w/ a 6970 or one of the 7000 series cards at some point in the not too distant future.

I sometimes like to play around w/ overclocking, but generally run my primary box at stock clocks/multipliers/voltages for stability and longevity.

Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime between December '11 and January '12
Budget Range: ? most likely want to keep it under/around $600 for mobo/CPU/RAM
System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, HD video editing/encoding, 3D modeling/animation/rendering, web browsing, total world domination, etc.
Parts Not Required: Basically just looking at upgrading mobo/CPU/RAM (and heatsink if necessary). PSU is a Corsair TX750
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: mostly newegg in the past
Country: US
Parts Preferences: Intel/Asus/Corsair
Overclocking: Maybe
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200

I really haven't been keeping all that up on desktop hardware since I built out my current rig 3 years ago, but from initial recon of the current offerings I've been looking at the following potential setups:

Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601960
ASUS Rampage III Formula LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
CORSAIR Vengeance 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ12GX3M3A1600C9

or

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K
ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B

As far as I can see the big advantages of the Bloomfield i7 for me would be PCIe x16/x16 mode for Crossfire/SLI, triple channel memory controller, and more L3 cache. Disadvantages: significantly high power draw/thermal disapation, no Turbo Boost, slightly lower default clock speed

Advantages for the Sandy Bridge: significantly lower power draw/heat production, Turbo Boost for the non-multicore optimized apps, slightly lower price and higher clock speed, maybe more future proof (???). Disadvantages: only 8x/8x for Crossfire/SLI from the mobos I've seen, 1 less DDR3 channel, less L3 cache.

I guess my questions are as follows:

What is it that seems to make the Sandy Bridge so much more popular than Bloomfield for most of the high end configs I see? Cost? Overclock headroom? Turbo Boost? Power/Heat?

Is it worth the extra cash and power/heat to go for the Bloomfield for my purposes?

Any clue if my current heatsink is compatible w/ LGA 1155 and/or LGA 1366?

Any other general comments/feedback/guidance on any of these components would be appreciated as well.

Thanks!
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
November 15, 2011 6:04:55 PM

the sandybridge , with a Z68 motherboard
more powerful processor , easier OCing and uses less power .
Its a no brainer
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November 15, 2011 6:16:25 PM

Outlander_04 said:
the sandybridge , with a Z68 motherboard
more powerful processor , easier OCing and uses less power .
Its a no brainer


Are you aware of any PCIe x16/x16 mobo out there for Sandy Bridge or is this a core limitation of the Z68 chipset? I think that's one of the biggest hangs ups I have (closely followed by double rather than triple channel memory controller).
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
November 15, 2011 6:28:55 PM

its a limitation of all intel sandybridge chip sets ...and it makes no noticeable difference to game play or frame rates even when using two top end graphics cards
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November 15, 2011 6:33:20 PM

i5 + z68

This will give you the option to also get IvyBridge once it comes out in Q2 2012(rumoured to be offered on 1155 Socket)
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November 15, 2011 6:38:53 PM

You've already made it this far man!!! hang in for another 4.5 short months and snatch up an Ivy Bridge :) 
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November 15, 2011 6:47:31 PM

the core i5 + z68 system is a viable gaming option. but the bloomfield build will give you more pcie lanes, hex core, better rendering performance. the biggest problem with bloomfield is intel just released x79 platform that replaces x58. x79 natively supports pcie 3.0(not yet tested) - 40 lanes of it. imo x79 performs better than x58 and is a worthy replacement. but (again) you will have to pay a lot more(than lga 1155) for x79 if you want to get one.
that 6870 in your current build will last you a bit longer till ivb arrives in a few months. if you can wait, see how ivb performs. by then sandy bridge prices should come down even lower.
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November 15, 2011 6:51:09 PM

i5 less expensive, more oc, hd3000
x16/x16 = 100%
x8/x8 = 94%
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 15, 2011 7:04:17 PM

I recently upgraded (see sig) for video editing in Premiere CS5.5, and am very happy with the new build. And I will advise from the production point of view instead of the gamer one.

Waiting for IB may be worth it, as it will be cooler and should be better with OC than SB, though SB is no slouch. If you buy now then dont worry about upgrading to IB when it comes out as you plan on upgrading in 2-3 years anyways, and IB will be feature rich compared to SB, but not much faster.

Look at the production software you will be using and what hardware it is made for. For example Premiere is made specifically to run well on Intel chips, and specific nVidia GPU's (470, 570, 580, and Quadro cards), and if you use those then you will get more bang for the buck than going with AMD. Other programs like AMD better, and some even like bulldozer over everything else for production work. My point is that if you are doing production work then build around the software you are using. Games will work fairly well on anything, so build to produce with gaming as an afterthought.

More cores = better for most productivity software. If it really is between the old 4core with HT vs the new i5 then go with the old platform. However, it is only $100 more to spring for the i7 which will work better than both, and the 2600K is only $280 at microcenter compared to the 2500K being $230 on Newegg. You just need to know where to shop.

You NEED 16GB of ram for HD video editing, and more if you are doing large projects, but 8GB sticks are expensive, so 16GB is fine. The speed of this ram doesn't matter, just quantity.

If all you need is the mobo, proc, and ram you can easily do an i7K, 16GB of 1333, and a good z68mobo, just poke arround.
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