Overclocked On Air: Intel's Core i5-750

Intel’s LGA 1156 platform launch has been a success; online media and user feedback have both been very positive. Our initial articles on i5 cover the processor and platform technology as well as gaming performance. Now it’s time to have a look at overclocking capabilities. How far can you take the Intel’s latest platform? What’s the impact of Turbo Boost? What about power consumption at accelerated clock speeds? You have questions. Much like Home Depot, we have answers.

P55: “The Next BX?”

This phrase has often been used (and abused) to characterize a new chipset or platform with the potential to become a de facto standard, and hence be dominant over all its direct competitors for a longer time than the regular product life cycle would imply. Long ago, the 440BX chipset, which powered the second-generation Pentium II, was the most popular core logic, despite several competitors having better numbers on paper. BX was the superior value king, and journalists kept referring to this product time and time again.

Many users still running Pentium 4, Pentium D, or Athlon 64/X2 or even first-generation Core 2 systems want to upgrade to four cores—and probably to Windows 7, as well. Core i5 is one of the best value options currently available, especially for users with overclocking ambitions.

Does the P55 platform have the potential to be another BX? Yes and no. On one hand, Intel will dwell on the LGA 1156 interface for a couple of years, at least, even though the pin-out and electrical specifications might be transient. From what we know today, we assume that the basic platform will reach out into 2011 and we expect this socket to host all Westmere-based 32nm processors, so, yes…you should be fairly "future-proof."

However, there are a few twists waiting in the wings that the P55 platform currently doesn’t support. The first is USB 3.0. The second is SATA at 6 Gb/s bandwidth. While the bumped-up SATA standard will only significantly impact flash SSDs and eSATA appliances that run multiple drives through one eSATA link, USB 3.0 is something we consider a must-have item once available, since most external storage devices are typically only limited to about 30 MB/s by the USB 2.0 bottleneck.

Overclocking: Great Speeds, Some Obstacles

We used MSI’s P55-GD65 motherboard for this project and were able to take the entry-level Core i5-750 to as much as 4.3 GHz. However, we could only reach speeds above 4 GHz after switching off some of the essential processor features.