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Conclusion

Mobile Gaming: Can Core i7-2920XM Beat Desktop Core i7-980X?
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So, can Intel’s latest high-end mobile processor really outperform its most-extreme desktop part in a gaming configuration? Let’s first take a look at what our CPU benchmarks showed.

While the Core i7-2920XM makes its extreme mobile predecessor look like a low-end part, the desktop CPU triumphs by a margin that’s almost as big. Yet, many of our applications were optimized for the desktop part's six-core architecture, while most games are not. So, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

A 1% lead in games for the i7-2920XM amounts to a performance and efficiency coup for the mobile processor, at least when both it and the Core i7-980X are paired with the Radeon HD 6970M. Our previous desktop tests have shown that PCIe performance has less impact on Nvidia graphics processors, so the i7-2920XM’s on-die PCIe controller could explain the small discrepancy between graphics brands.

Shortening the discussion to the question posed in today’s title: yes, the Core i7-2920XM can beat the Core i7-980X in mobile gaming. But desktop gaming enthusiasts need not fear the reaper quite yet, as we still haven’t found a notebook graphics solution capable of convincing Eyefinity or Surround performance.

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  • 1 Hide
    rohitbaran , February 9, 2011 3:40 AM
    I don't see the point of comparing high end CPUs, when usually GPUs are the limiting factor.
  • 5 Hide
    porksmuggler , February 9, 2011 3:44 AM
    I lost count of how many times you wrote desktop. Oh wait, it doesn't matter since you're writing about an i7-980X with a 6970M, which notebook is that by the way?

    Since the 6970M is slower than a desktop 6850, what's the point in even mentioning desktops? Who would pair a $1000 i7-980X with $160 desktop graphics card for gaming?
  • -1 Hide
    agnickolov , February 9, 2011 3:58 AM
    What I don't see here is the desktop Core i7 2600(K). It's clocked at 3.4 GHz stock and should be the real target for comparing mobile to desktop CPUs.
  • -1 Hide
    Immoral Medic , February 9, 2011 4:03 AM
    Can you really compare the Sandy Bridge with this older i7? I don't think so. I mean, the $330 2600k beats it. No news here.
  • 6 Hide
    Crashman , February 9, 2011 4:16 AM
    porksmugglerI lost count of how many times you wrote desktop. Oh wait, it doesn't matter since you're writing about an i7-980X with a 6970M, which notebook is that by the way?Since the 6970M is slower than a desktop 6850, what's the point in even mentioning desktops? Who would pair a $1000 i7-980X with $160 desktop graphics card for gaming?
    It's the Clevo X7200 that holds the DESKTOP Extreme Edition i7-980X. What this means is that today's notebooks beat LGA-1366. If you wanted a notebook but didn't think they had the CPU performance for you, you no longer have an excuse.
    agnickolovWhat I don't see here is the desktop Core i7 2600(K). It's clocked at 3.4 GHz stock and should be the real target for comparing mobile to desktop CPUs.
    Show me a notebook that accepts the Core i7-2600K please, so I can mount a 6970M on it and find out how it compares to this notebook CPU.
    immoral medicCan you really compare the Sandy Bridge with this older i7? I don't think so. I mean, the $330 2600k beats it. No news here.
    You must mean $1000 (Core i7-980X), since you can't get a 2600k in a notebook. This article compares the previous-fastest notebook configuration, Clevo's desktop-CPU X7200 "mobile workstation" using Intel's fastest LGA-1366 part, with the fastest new solution. If you don't think that this is a huge leap forward in mobile performance, I can't change your perspective.

  • 2 Hide
    mattmock , February 9, 2011 4:39 AM
    Even if I switched to a notebook, I would still need a separate monitor and keyboard set up. The superior ergonomics and screen size are a necessity for serious work. I would be far more likely to do a Desktop and netbook combo to get the best of both worlds.
  • 0 Hide
    Maziar , February 9, 2011 5:11 AM
    Great article.
    SB mobile CPUs perform quite good and sometimes as fast as their desktop counterparts which is good because the first gen core "i" laptop CPUs(such as i7 720QM etc) didn't perform anywhere close as the desktop ones.
  • 6 Hide
    ta152h , February 9, 2011 5:13 AM
    After reading only the first page, there was enough there that stopped me from even reading the rest.

    First of all, Sandy Bridge is not evolutionary. The pipelines were remade from the ground up, and it's (outside of the P4 family) the first real departure from the Pentium Pro. It borrows a lot from the Pentium Pro family, and the Pentium 4 family. It's not just an evolution of the Pentium Pro based Nehalem. It's probably closer to the Pentium 4 in more ways than not, at least at a low level (PRF, new version of trace cache, etc...).

    Second, the desktop is not going anywhere, and sensationalizing won't change it. That's like saying I can get a small car with more horsepower than a big one, so all big ones will be obsolete, especially since the small use uses less power to do the same thing.

    Desktops will remain not because of performance, which at any rate will always be superior (compare an i7 2600K overclocked to a mobile processor, which can not be overclocked as extensively), but because the form factor is superior situationally. Both will remain, because both are situationally superior. There have always, or almost always, been notebooks with superior performance to what the average desktop is using, but people buy desktops anyway.

    There are inherent advantages that are inalienable in desktops. You can't have a huge screen with a notebook. The keyboard has less flexibility as well. They have less flexibility with upgrades.

    On top of this, the idea of a larger, better cooled, more reliable unit that is not easily removed, and is less expensive is pretty popular with businesses in a lot of situations. It's also cheaper to work on desktops, and they are more reliable to boot.

    Performance is just one advantage desktops have, and if there's a blip where they don't because of some bizarre marketing by a company (it could happen, it just hasn't yet), that wouldn't make desktops extinct. Notebooks become a lot slower than desktops wouldn't make them extinct either. Most businesses and people can be quite happy with the performance of virtually any computer made (with the possible situational exception of the Atom), but that's not why most people buy desktops.

    Also, any student of computer history would tell you that the past was littered with laptops that were FASTER than desktops. How about the original Compaq compared to the PC? The PS/2 Model P70 used the same 20 MHz processor as the desktop models (granted, it came with an amber screen, but could just as easily be attached to a monitor).

    So, I wouldn't worry too much about desktops going away. You're dead wrong on that issue, as has everyone else who's been predicting it for the past 20 years. And dead we will both be before there are no more desktop computers. Notebooks, on the other hand, might become extinct, or nearly so, but not anytime soon. Tablets could destroy them, and render them obsolete, if speech recognition software ever makes the keyboard a lot less useful. But, even then, there are situations where you can't talk to your computer (too much noise, or you'd be creating too much noise), so even then I think, at worst, notebooks will become less popular, but not completely extinct. Each form factor has pluses and minuses, and with so many people in the world, there will be plenty for each one.
  • 5 Hide
    rohantheneo , February 9, 2011 5:20 AM
    XXXXXX All those who did comment here doesn't have any knowledge about the notebooks being offered with Core i7-980X. Don't comment if your knowledge is not updated. Also FYI, the point of this review was that there is Clevo and some other brands offering i7-980X and other older generations desktop i7's in laptop..but in the near future i7-2920XM will be available at laptop i7 price..So how logical it is to go for extreme older gen i7's if SB-Mobile is satisfying all your needs! (And just so you know, it will take a lot of time for Desktop SB i7's to come into gaming notebooks by Clevo or any other brand.)

    Edited for bad language ...

    /washes mouth out with soap !!

    :) 
  • 1 Hide
    porksmuggler , February 9, 2011 5:31 AM
    CrashmanWhat this means is that today's notebooks beat LGA-1366 notebooks. If you wanted a notebook but didn't think they had the GPU performance for you, you still have an excuse.


    Since the title of your article is Mobile Gaming, and we know the bottleneck for gaming isn't the CPU...
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , February 9, 2011 5:36 AM
    TA152HSo, I wouldn't worry too much about desktops going away. You're dead wrong on that issue, as has everyone else who's been predicting it for the past 20 years.
    Actually, you're dead wrong if that's what you took from the first page. Intel is working to push people out of desktops, but that doesn't mean the market goes away. It only means additional shrinkage, if Intel's action on its vision of the future is successful.
    porksmugglerSince the title of your article is Mobile Gaming, and we know the bottleneck for gaming isn't the CPU...
    That might be mostly true of the gigantic desktop-CPU notebooks, but up to this point notebook CPUs have been a gaming bottleneck. The i7-940XM data was included to show how the former mobile-CPU-bottlenecking has been dramatically reduced in this new mobile CPU.
  • 2 Hide
    porksmuggler , February 9, 2011 5:45 AM
    rohantheneoYou piece of shits! All those who did comment here doesn't have any knowledge about the notebooks being offered with Core i7-980X. Don't comment if your knowledge is not updated.


    There's not a single comment from anyone that mentions not knowing the i7-980X is available in notebooks. It's the inference from the title that mobile gaming performance is comparable to desktop gaming performance based on CPU comparison alone that doesn't sit well.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , February 9, 2011 7:14 AM
    TA152HAfter reading only the first page, there was enough there that stopped me from even reading the rest. First of all, Sandy Bridge is not evolutionary. The pipelines were remade from the ground up, and it's (outside of the P4 family) the first real departure from the Pentium Pro.


    Hi TA,

    Just in the interest of preventing misinformation, I wanted to jump in here and let you know this isn't the case. Sandy Bridge's processing cores are very much evolutionary versions of Nehalem (altered primarily with AVX and the ring bus in mind). Wiggle past Intel's marketing though, and I don't think you'll find anyone over there who would argue that.

    Beyond that, it's all a matter of opinion. I only wanted to step in with regard to the technical aspect there.

    Best,
    Chris
  • 0 Hide
    arkadi , February 9, 2011 7:27 AM
    I think if this article would have a different title, ppl could be some what more receptive...i got what i waned to know, just can't understand ware from came all the aggression in some ppl comments.
  • -1 Hide
    shin0bi272 , February 9, 2011 7:44 AM
    I think I remember reading an article on here a few months ago that compared the intel and amd single dual and quad cores in game performance and they concluded that single cores were overtaxed, dual cores were mainstream and quad cores were the future (so to speak). So if we are still not using all of the quad core power a 6 core cpu certainly wont be used up (notebook or desktop doesnt matter) and that the real bottleneck is with either the hard drive or the video card (or to a lesser extent the motherboard and/or pci-e transfer speed to the video card) in game performance. So this entire article was pretty much to fill some empty space on the site I guess since most of your readers know that its no longer the cpu thats limiting your performance.
  • 1 Hide
    carlhenry , February 9, 2011 8:11 AM
    it's funny how some guys here act like they know a lot and quick at jumping the gun just to impose "hey i'm cool. i know better than this.".

    ...and then reality bites -- whoops.
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , February 9, 2011 8:48 AM
    shin0bi272So this entire article was pretty much to fill some empty space on the site I guess since most of your readers know that its no longer the cpu thats limiting your performance.
    I think YOU can look at the charts in THIS review and see that you're speaking nonsense. Look at how poorly the old mobile CPU did in all applications, even games, and realize how bad the mobile CPU bottleneck has been up to this point.
  • 3 Hide
    ubercake , February 9, 2011 10:35 AM
    TA152HSecond, the desktop is not going anywhere, and sensationalizing won't change it. That's like saying I can get a small car with more horsepower than a big one, so all big ones will be obsolete, especially since the small use uses less power to do the same thing.Desktops will remain not because of performance, which at any rate will always be superior (compare an i7 2600K overclocked to a mobile processor, which can not be overclocked as extensively), but because the form factor is superior situationally. Both will remain, because both are situationally superior. There have always, or almost always, been notebooks with superior performance to what the average desktop is using, but people buy desktops anyway. There are inherent advantages that are inalienable in desktops. You can't have a huge screen with a notebook. The keyboard has less flexibility as well. They have less flexibility with upgrades. On top of this, the idea of a larger, better cooled, more reliable unit that is not easily removed, and is less expensive is pretty popular with businesses in a lot of situations. It's also cheaper to work on desktops, and they are more reliable to boot. Performance is just one advantage desktops have, and if there's a blip where they don't because of some bizarre marketing by a company (it could happen, it just hasn't yet), that wouldn't make desktops extinct. Notebooks become a lot slower than desktops wouldn't make them extinct either. Most businesses and people can be quite happy with the performance of virtually any computer made (with the possible situational exception of the Atom), but that's not why most people buy desktops.

    I agree with this guy. The article mentions a slowly-shrinking enthusiast market as well. I think the reason for this is because the PC producers have convinced most of the broader market to buy into the disposable model a laptop offers.

    What better way to boost sales year after year but to get people to buy into things you can't really make full-scale upgrades to? It's marketing genius. I think the enthusiast market is shrinking because people are buying in and accepting the mediocre performance in a similarly priced laptop and because there are fewer and fewer do-it yourselfers due to an increase in consumer laziness. Again, the PC producers like you to increase your reliance on them, because it just means more money in their pockets.

    Sure I can upgrade my RAM or my disk on a laptop, but if I want to jump into the latest processor and architecture, I need to buy a new laptop altogether at $1000s (not just lay down the $3-500 for a motherboard and processor upgrade). In most cases, even if you just want to upgrade your video capability, you need to buy a new laptop.

    Laptops are convenient and everyone needs at least one for various reasons, but if you need serious performance, comparatively, you won't find it in a laptop.
  • 1 Hide
    Reynod , February 9, 2011 11:29 AM
    I think ubercake has something here.

    My 14 year old kills laptops like they are opponents on a rugby field.

    He has 4 scalps so far ...

    By comparison I have only had to replace his PSU and Graphics card on the desktop in his room over the same period of time (2 years).

    I think apple and toshiba might offer him a job ... as a crash test dummy !!
  • 3 Hide
    amk09 , February 9, 2011 11:40 AM
    Great, now all we need is a mobile GPU that can keep up with the GTX 580. That way, we'll be able to configure a notebook for over $5,000.

    Or you could build an i7 2600K/GTX 580 PC for under $1500 and then laugh really hard.

    That being said, I'm amazed at how much gaming power these notebooks pack. The 2920XM/6970m only used 136W on full load. That's NUTS, considering it performs on par with desktops that would use 2-3 times as much power. Granted the CPU alone costs as much as a similar performing desktop($1,100), but it's still pretty amazing. I think the mobile market is where the real changes happen, at least when it comes to performance/watt.
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