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Test System

Overclocking Core i7: Power Versus Performance
By

Test System

System Hardware
Hardware
Details
CPU
Intel Core i7 920 (45 nm, 2.66 GHz, 4x 256 KB L2 and 8 MB L3 Cache, TDP 130 W, Rev. C0)
Motherboard
(Socket LGA1336)
Asus P6T (Rev. 1.0)
Chipset: Intel X58, ICH10R
BIOS: 0403 (02/26/2009)
RAM
3x 2 GB DDR3-1600 (Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D)
operating between DDR3-999 and 1200 (CL8-8-8-24)
Hard Drive
Western Digital VelociRaptor, 300 GB (WD3000HLFS)
10,000 RPM, SATA/300, 16 MB Cache
Blu-Ray Drive
LG GGW-H20L, SATA/150
Power Supply
Fortron Everest 1010, 1010 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Enterprise Version 6.0 SP1 (Build 6000)
Drivers and Settings
Intel Chipset Drivers9.0.0.1012
Intel Matrix Storage Drivers8.7.0.1007
Nvidia GeForce Drivers182.08


Benchmarks
3D Games Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmark
Details
Crysis
Version: 1.2.1
Video Mode: 1680x1050
Overall Quality: low
Demo: CPU-Benchmark2 + Tom's Hardware Tool
Unreal Tournament 3
Version: 1.2
Video Mode: 1680x1050
Sound and DirectX10
Video Quality:
Texture Details: 1
Level Details: 1
Demo: vCTF-CONTAINMENT_fly
Time: 12/60
World In Conflict
Version: 1.0.0.9
Video Mode: 1680x1050 and 800x600
Video Quality: low details
Demo: Game-Benchmark
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmarks
Details
iTunes
Version: 7.7.1.11
Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3
Version 3.98
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to mp3
160 Kbps
Video Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmarks
Details
Pinnacle Studio 12
Version: 12.0.0.6163
Encoding and Transition Rendering
DV camcorder movie
Video:
720 x 576 Pixel, PAL, 25 fps, 6000 Kbits/sec
Audio:
MPEG Layer 2, 224 Kbits/sec 16 Bit, Stereo 44.1 KHz
File Type: MPEG-2 (DVD Compatible)
TMPEG 4.5
Version: 4.5.1.254
Video: Terminator 2 SE DVD (720x576, 16:9) 5 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, 6-Kanal, English
Advanced Acoustic Engine MP3 Encoder (160 kbps, 44.1 KHz)
DivX 6.8.3Version: 6.8.3
== Main Menu ==
default
== Codec Menu ==
Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading
Enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
== Video Menu ==
Quantization: MPEG-2
XviD 1.1.3Version: 1.1.3
Other Options / Encoder Menu -
Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1
Version: 1.5.1
MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)
MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec
28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)
Audio:
MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps)
Codec: H.264
Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Profile: Tom's Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 HDTV
Mainconcept H.264 Plugin 3.2
Windows Media Encoder 9.1 AP HDTV
Windows Audio Encoder 10 Pro
Version: 3.0
NTSC MPEG2-HDTV 1920x1080 (24 sec)
Import: Mainconcept NTSC HDTV 1080i
Export: Adobe Media Encoder
== Video ==
Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile
Encoding Passes: one
Bitrate Mode: Constant
Frame: 1920x1080
Frame Rate: 29.97
Maximum Bitrate [kbps]: 2000
Image Quality: 50.00
== Audio ==
Windows Media Audio 10 Professional
Encoding Passes: one
Bitrate Mode: Constant
Audio Format:
160 kbps, 44.1 kHz, 2 channel 16 bit (A/V) CBR
Application Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmarks
Details
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134
Virus base: 270.4.5/1533
Benchmark
Scan: some compressed ZIP and RAR archives
Winrar 3.8Version 3.80 BETA 4
WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3
Compression = Best
Dictionary = 4096 KB
Benchmark: THG-Workload
Winzip 11Version 11.2 (8094)
Compression = Best
Benchmark: THG-Workload
Maxon Cinema 4D Release 10Version: 10.008
Rendering from a scene
(Water drop at a Rose)
Resolution: 1280 x 1024 - 8Bit (50 frames)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version: 10.0x20070321
Filtering a 69 MB TIF-Photo
Benchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4
Programmed by Tomshardware using Delphi 2007
Filters:
Crosshatch
Glass
Sumi-e
Accented Edges
Angled Strokes
Sprayed Strokes
Deep Fritz 11Version: 11
Fritz Chess Benchmark Version 4.2
Synthetics Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmarks
Details
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02
Options: Performance
Graphics Test 1
Graphics Test 2
CPU Test 1
CPU Test 2
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00
PCMark Benchmark
Memories Benchmark
Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
Display all 64 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 6 Hide
    eximious , April 13, 2009 8:14 AM
    Interesting and insightful article. It might be interesting to do a similar analysis when the new D0 stepping is widely available. Thanks for including a variety of video encoding / editing benchmarks too.
  • 0 Hide
    zedx , April 13, 2009 8:14 AM
    No undervolting / underclocking? I'm sure you can greatly improve efficiency by doing something like a clock of around 2.4 ghz and a voltage of around 0.8 - 0.9 volts... Even in default you might be able to undervolt quite a bit...
  • -2 Hide
    tacoslave , April 13, 2009 8:15 AM
    i wish i had one
  • -6 Hide
    onerec , April 13, 2009 9:01 AM
    does this mean that AMD phenom2 is better than Intel when it comes to overclocking?
  • 7 Hide
    falchard , April 13, 2009 10:22 AM
    lol no, this one went from 2.66 to 4.0. In the other comparison with the Phenom II it went from 3.0 to 3.8.
    What I find interesting is that both articles found the magic number to be 3.6 ghz.
  • 5 Hide
    jonpaul37 , April 13, 2009 12:43 PM
    3.6 - 3.8 seems to be the universal sweet-spot for any CPU that allows for the OC. I've OC'd my E8400 to 3.6 and get great results, anything higher might yield an FPS or 2 more, but at the possible expense of more power.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 12:46 PM
    Ever since the stock P4 3.6ghz came out, the magic number has been 3.6, every new generation of CPUs since then, people have expected to get somewhat further, but IMO it's safe to say that without some radically new technology, the magic number will always be about 3.6.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 12:59 PM
    I will stick with my q9650 overclocked to 4.0Ghz at 1.24v ntm the 8gb ram at 1066 mhz. lolz
  • 4 Hide
    TripGun , April 13, 2009 1:39 PM
    Very good article. However , I do have a problem with the test being ran with an "engineering sample" chip. A lot of boxed I7's won't hit 3.66ghz without at least 1.35 volts. Good read though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 1:40 PM
    Nice article.

    Thanks.
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , April 13, 2009 2:00 PM
    I always believe the sweet spot is half way of stock speed and max OC. In this case, 3.33GHz is the sweet spot while 3.66 means you got a good overclocker. Good read.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 2:39 PM
    I second the need for a underclock/undervolt analysis. Also, how about seeing exactly how voltage affects the processor without changing the clock speed. Many people hit 3.8-4Ghz at lower voltages so a base comparison on how much voltage affects the power (theoretically squared relationship) would be helpful...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 2:47 PM
    I agree from the results that the safest overclock is 3,33Ghz with turbo mode enabled, for the casual gamer.
    Besides, you will not notice much difference in games running them at 3,33 or 3,66.
    Also the life expectancy of overclocking the CPU @3,33, is longer than @3,66Ghz.

    I wished sometimes 'underclocking' would be done at toms, to see how much power one can save when he's only writing documents, or browsing the web with such a powerful machine. I mean, unless you're a gamer, the computer stays most of the time in a passive mode (if not turned off).

    About the 'magical number',this probably changes with the die. When a processor is created @ 45nm the best results might be 3,6Ghz; but these results should be different on larger or smaller dies (eg: 65nm, 95nm, or the upcoming 40nm, or 32nm). It also has to do with the materials used. Current 45nM processes by intel are done with high metal K gates and stuff, they allow greater overclocking to the standard silicon processors...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 2:51 PM
    If everything goes like now, and processors on a smaller die (32 nm, 28nm,...) will be identical copies of current processors, we might see a trend that the smaller the die, the smaller the possible overclocking.
    It all depends on how thick of a layer of insulation Intel uses between the transistors (in on-off switching by lack of words), and if they will invent or discover newer more efficient materials to develop processors or not.
  • 7 Hide
    theJ , April 13, 2009 2:59 PM
    I just ran some calculations on these power consumptions.

    Assuming you keep your computer on 365/24/7, at peak power all the time:
    -$104.49/year for a 2.66 Ghz
    -$204.56/year for 4.0 Ghz

    For a medium usage user: 365 days per year, 4 hours at peak, 20 hours at idle:
    -$61.97/year for 2.66 Ghz
    -$94.60/year for 4.0 Ghz

    For a more modest user: 365 days per year, 2 hours at peak per day, 4 hours at idle:
    -$17.62/year for 2.66 Ghz
    -$29.15/year for 4.0 Ghz

    This assumes 5.6 cents/kWh.

    This is just to give everyone a more convenient way to track power. I know i don't have a feel for 100 W compared to 200 W.
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , April 13, 2009 3:06 PM
    Stock cooling??? I'm not believing that.

    WRT undervolting, maybe we need new mobo features to allow custom "speedstep" features. Run the processor at max. OC speed when it needs it, then drop to stock speed or below when at idle or at low use.
  • 0 Hide
    optimus290 , April 13, 2009 5:05 PM
    these are good performance gains :) . but its not something ground breaking. :|
  • 0 Hide
    mcnuggetofdeath , April 13, 2009 5:07 PM
    cadderStock cooling??? I'm not believing that.WRT undervolting, maybe we need new mobo features to allow custom "speedstep" features. Run the processor at max. OC speed when it needs it, then drop to stock speed or below when at idle or at low use.

    Thats what got me too, with the abundance of good and cheap air cooling solutions negating the effects of Intel's Overspeed protection shouldnt be hard even w/o a board with a BIOS option to that effect.
  • 0 Hide
    funkjunky , April 13, 2009 5:40 PM
    I know I would rather have a bios option for better underclocking, so it is more transparent. Like super speedstep, where it drops the multiplier even more ;) .

    I can't see a reason for tom's to give underclocking numbers, until their are better native dynamic underclocking features on mobos. No one is going to manually under clock their computer when they go and change to writing documents... it needs to be automatic.

    Assuming Thej's numbers are even close to accurate, then having that extra bit of under clocking won't save you anymore than $5-$10, because most core components will still be running taking juice.

    This article was a convenient read, and even more convenient thanks to Thej =).
  • -5 Hide
    funkjunky , April 13, 2009 5:40 PM
    I know I would rather have a bios option for better underclocking, so it is more transparent. Like super speedstep, where it drops the multiplier even more ;) .

    I can't see a reason for tom's to give underclocking numbers, until their are better native dynamic underclocking features on mobos. No one is going to manually under clock their computer when they go and change to writing documents... it needs to be automatic.

    Assuming Thej's numbers are even close to accurate, then having that extra bit of under clocking won't save you anymore than $5-$10, because most core components will still be running taking juice.

    This article was a convenient read, and even more convenient thanks to Thej =).
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