Overclocking: Can Sandy Bridge-E Be Made More Efficient?

Test Configuration And Benchmarks

LGA 2011 Platform
LGA 2011 PlatformIntel DX79SI, Chipset: Intel X79 Express, BIOS: 280B
LGA 2011 ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (32 nm, Sandy Bridge-E), 6C/12T, 3.3 GHz, 6 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 15 MB L3 Cache, 130 W TDP, 3.9 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Memory4 x 4 GB DDR3-1333, Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6850, GPU: Cypress (775 MHz), Graphics RAM: 1024 MB GDDR5 (2000 MHz), Stream Processors: 960
System Drive
Samsung PM810, 256 GB, SATA 3Gb/s
Power Supply
Seasonic X-760, SS-760KM
System Software & Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Drivers & Settings
AMD Radeon Driver
ATI Catalyst 11.8 Suite for Windows 7
Intel Chipset Driver
Chipset Installation Utility Ver. 9.2.0.1030
Intel Rapid StorageVer: 10.6.0.1002
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
iTunesVersion: 10.4.1.10
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min.
Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
convert wav to mp3 audio format
Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.95
Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English to Video: AVC1 Audio1: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2.2
Version: 2.2.0.5440
MPEG-2 to H.264
MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec
28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2)
Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s)
Codec: H.264 Pro
Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS)
Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
7-ZipVersion 9.22 beta
LZMA2
Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinrarVersion 4.01
RAR
Syntax "winrar a -r -m3"
Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 16 ProVersion 16.0 Pro
WinZIP GUI based
Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version: 10 x64
Rendering Space Flyby Mentalray (SPECapc_3dsmax9)
Frame: 248
Resolution: 1440 x 1080
Adobe After Effects CS5.5Create Video which includes 3 Streams
Frames: 210
Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 (64-Bit)Version: 11
Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15 000x7266)
Filters:
Radial Blur (Amount: 10; Method: zoom; Quality: good), Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark symbol), Median (Radius: 1px), Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
Adobe Acrobat X ProfessionalVersion: 10.0.0
== Printing Preferences Menu ==
Default Settings: Standard
== Adobe PDF Security - Edit Menu ==
Encrypt all documents (128-bit RC4), Open Password: 123, Permissions Password: 321
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010Version: 2007 SP2
PPT to PDF
Powerpoint Document (115 Pages)
Adobe PDF-Printer
BlenderVersion: 2.59 beta
Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1
Resolution: 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing: 8x, Render: THG.blend frame 1
MatlabR2011a, Internal Benchmark: 10 runs
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28 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • Yargnit
    What about trying to under-volt it at slight under-clocks to slight-overclocks. How much room is there to reduce it's stock voltage to gain better efficiency?
    20
  • Other Comments
  • mayankleoboy1
    This article appeared on tomshardware.de weeks before.
    2
  • Combat Wombat
    Good to know!
    0
  • Yargnit
    What about trying to under-volt it at slight under-clocks to slight-overclocks. How much room is there to reduce it's stock voltage to gain better efficiency?
    20
  • billj214
    Was there an efficiency chart made for the Core i7 2600k or 2700k?
    Nice to know Intel doesn't just set the stock clock speed for just performance!
    0
  • Marcus52
    Quote:
    And then there's the Core i7-3820, which only sports four cores, but operates at a base clock rate of 3.6 GHz. Although this less-complex chip could probably hit higher Turbo Boost frequencies, Intel limits it to 3.9 GHz to keep it from outshining the top-end Core i7-3960X in single-threaded tasks.


    Did someone at Intel tell you that was the reason for a lower Turbo Boost limit, or did you just assume it?

    I think we should be careful of this kind of guess at another person's, or company's, reasoning. There could be some other cause for the limit - for example, they will obviously sell it for a lower price, so wouldn't a possible reason be they have looser binning specs to allow for chips that wouldn't make it under more strenuous tests through? (Remember, Intel, or any CPU manufacturer, doesn't warrant the product based on what it can be pushed to, and is generally going to provide it at a clock rate they feel is safe over time to guarantee.)

    I'm certainly not saying it is a bad assumption, what you said makes sense to me, but I do think there are enough other reasonable possibilities that I wouldn't have stated it as a fact unless I knew it to be.

    ;)
    6
  • Marcus52
    Thanks for the analysis!

    I do think articles like this are very important; those of us who overclock, especially when we turn off all the power-saving features in hopes of reaching that max stable a CPU can do, should be aware of how much money we are spending if we keep said OC. It's more than just the high end cooling solution.

    The people that bash higher capacity PSUs could also stand to learn a thing or two, here. An overclocked CPU can require a huge amount of peak power over and above what a stock CPU needs (349W measured here). An overclocked Sandy Bridge-E and an overclocked GTX 580 could require a peak power of 650W just considering those 2 components!

    A Kill A Watt or similar device is a great way to measure how much you actually spend a month operating your computer. You might be surprised.

    ;)
    2
  • lahawzel
    "Intel Core i7-3690X Extreme Edition"

    Tom's Parallel Universe Hardware.
    -3
  • giovanni86
    Just a thought, so at 4.7Ghz the performance increase was only 16%? For being such a High overclock i was hoping for more then that. You guys literally upped the bar from stock clock to the OC clock by 1.4ghz, seems like a small increase in performance if you look at the amount of watts it takes.. Well at least its good 2 know my future billing of electricity will sure be expensive.. =P
    1
  • Naxos
    Does anyone spending 600-1k$ on a cpu really care about efficiency??
    -7
  • cangelini
    Marcus52Did someone at Intel tell you that was the reason for a lower Turbo Boost limit, or did you just assume it?I think we should be careful of this kind of guess at another person's, or company's, reasoning. There could be some other cause for the limit - for example, they will obviously sell it for a lower price, so wouldn't a possible reason be they have looser binning specs to allow for chips that wouldn't make it under more strenuous tests through? (Remember, Intel, or any CPU manufacturer, doesn't warrant the product based on what it can be pushed to, and is generally going to provide it at a clock rate they feel is safe over time to guarantee.)I'm certainly not saying it is a bad assumption, what you said makes sense to me, but I do think there are enough other reasonable possibilities that I wouldn't have stated it as a fact unless I knew it to be.

    Hence the "probably." Of course, we don't know for sure, nor would Intel ever admit as such, but it's an educated guess nonetheless. =)
    2
  • cangelini
    mayankleoboy1This article appeared on tomshardware.de weeks before.

    Which makes sense since it was written in German =)
    1
  • visz963
    What a big surprise
    -1
  • gsxrme
    my 2600k @ 5.1GHz 1.5v (49/103) will eat this CPU for lunch when playing games. Thx to Gskills 2200Mhz cas7 ram.
    -10
  • stingstang
    gsxrmemy 2600k @ 5.1GHz 1.5v (49/103) will eat this CPU for lunch when playing games. Thx to Gskills 2200Mhz cas7 ram.

    So are all....SOOO impressed by your dangerously overclocked processor. Thank you so much for making that comment.

    In other news...
    Maybe you guys should have gone backwards a little to see if underclocking would increase the efficiency by a greater factor than the performance loss?
    5
  • nss000
    Oh Nooooooooo! All we need is a decent webzine pimp (overclocking) krak to the byteboyz (occaine addicts)! It's a waste of **MY** resources when a company "cheats down" its nominal specs , catering to a lost ranting, kanting tribe of light-shunning, babble-voiced 11-yo gamerz, gonzos and gnuguruz .. all pretty much talking and acting like ... well .. you know who!

    If they all took a bath in liquid Nitrogen then **decent-minded** casual lusr userland would be well-served with the fastest-possible **default** system performance.

    Don't feed the animals, Tommy-me-laddie.....
    -6
  • jaquith
    Very nice article! Thanks for the efficiency data - food for thought :)

    I would agree though be it a somewhat modified multiplier approach, at least for 'my' environment and dependent on 'how' your applications are threaded using 45x/44x/43x. Currently, I'm playing with x48/x47/x46 and Strap values; If you have an ASUS MOBO -- here's a good OC'ing guide -> (scrub to 16 min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx2z07sFM2I Again, it all depends on your: 1. vCore (luck of the CPU draw), 2. Thermal (temps/cooling), 3. Applications used.

    In addition, I really recommend using 'BIOS Profiles'; example if during the day I'm not doing anything stressful then I'll use a 'Stock' profile, or 'Gaming' profile, or 'Rendering' profile. Each tailored to the environment, a simple BIOS load and reboot you've got what you need from the SB-E.

    'My' selection for a limiting factor is the vCore and in essence the heat, I really don't recommend a vCore >1.45v -- so that's my limit. Every SB-E will offer, luck again, different stability per a designated vCore. I also have seen enough data to know both MOBO and Cooling aide signification enough.
    0
  • Anonymous
    What cooler was used?
    0
  • bin1127
    I like how it shows a minor increase in power use allows for a big gain in productivity; and then it tapers off.

    Do motherboards allow overclock profiles in the bios so you don't have to manually input new figures to 'turn on/off' overclocking?
    0
  • triny
    The 2500k is top dog
    6 cores? no one needs them
    over 1000$ ? craziness
    -3