Skip to main content

Core i5, Core i7, CrossFire, And SLI: Gaming Paradise, Redux?

Test Hardware And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-920 Extreme (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1366, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core i7-870 (Lynnfield) 2.93 GHz, LGA 1156, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core i5-750 (Lynnfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1156, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S (Yorkfield) 2.83 GHz, LGA 775, 1,333 MHz FSB, 12 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE (Deneb) 3.4 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardsAsus P6T (LGA 1366) X58/ICH10R, BIOS 0707
Gigabyte P55-UD6 (LGA 1156) P55, BIOS F3
Intel DX48BT2 (LGA 775) X48/ICH10R, BIOS 1902
Asus M4A79T Deluxe (AM3) 790FX/SB750, BIOS 1103
MemoryCorsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Corsair 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Hard DriveIntel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3 Gb/s
GraphicsSapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB x2
BFG GeForce GTX 285 OCFU Edition 1GB x2
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 RTM
DirectXDirectX 11
Platform DriverIntel INF Chipset Update Utility 9.1.1.1015
Graphics DriverCatalyst 9.8
GeForce 190.62

A few notes about our setup here:

Most notably, we've shifted from Windows Vista to Windows 7 for testing. Let us know what you think about this in the comments section, but it was pretty clear that Vista was never a favorite, so we're hoping Windows 7 is a more popular environment in which to test. We can confirm that all of the games benchmarked here work in Windows 7. FS X did have occasional hiccups when loading a map, but restarting the app fixed the problem every time.

It should also be noted that the GeForce GTX 285 OCFU Edition cards are clocked too aggressively for an SLI configuration; we had to manually turn the fan speed up in Nvidia's System Tools utility in order to keep them stable through testing. To be fair, we also had trouble with the Radeon HD 4870 X2s in CrossFire on Asus' P6T, where the top card doesn't get enough fresh air due to spacing issues.

All power-saving options were left enabled so that Turbo Boost, EIST, and Cool'n'Quiet would function as intended in a production environment. 

Benchmark Configuration
BenchmarkSetttings
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear SkyHigh Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10 / DirectX 10.1
High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10 / DirectX 10.1
Resident Evil 5Fixed Benchmark, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10
Fixed Benchmark, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10
Far Cry 2Ultra High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, Steam Version, DirectX 10
Ultra High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, Steam Version, DirectX 10
Left 4 DeadHigh Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, Tomshardware Demo, Steam Version
High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 8x AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, Tomshardware Demo, Steam Version
Grand Theft Auto 4Very High Quality Settings, No AA / Max AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, In-Game Benchmark
CrysisVery High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2.1, 64-bit executable
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2.1, 64-bit executable
Flight Simulator XUltra High Quality Settings, No AA / Trilinear Filtering, 20 fps target, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10
Ultra High Quality Settings, AA Enabled / AF Enabled, 20 fps target, 1680x1050 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • lashton
    so we can assume for gaming the 965BE (or 955 oc) and ATi cards are just as fast as Core i7 and i5 but at a fraction of the price
    Reply
  • cangelini
    The 955 does cost less. The 965 is more expensive than Core i5.
    Reply
  • Dekasav
    Only thing I don't like is how you knock Crossfire with 2 HD 4870X2's, since when is it even feasible that 4-way CF would scale as well as 2-way SLI?

    But excellent review, overall, I'm actually surprised at how the 965BE did, I thought it'd be behind, where it was actually right in the pack.
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    I would have liked to see a 780a or a 980a SLI motherboard used to check the SLI numbers on the P2 965BE. I'm also surprised there's no overclocking numbers in the comparison, is that article still to come out?
    Reply
  • cangelini
    It's upcoming dirt; Patrick is the one working on it (and our Italian team sent word of its i5 and i7s in excess of 4.2 GHz)
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    Nice game collection you got there.......:)

    Great review.
    Reply
  • anonymous x
    Let us know what you think about this in the comments section, but it was pretty clear that Vista was never a favorite, so we're hoping Windows 7 is a more popular environment in which to test
    I like vista, rock solid and stable since I got it years ago. Don't listen to the bashers who never have tried the product.
    Reply
  • lashton
    You giotta remember vista is design for spoecific hardware and powerfull hardware that can run it, so people with P4 3GHz and vista complain about its speed, vista is OK, i dont like it cause my computer doesm't like it thats fine i get over it and chnage my OS
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Thanks for weighing in, guys!
    Reply
  • crash27
    So there's no benafit from adding a second 285 to a q9550s or an x4 965 be ??

    I get a good performance boost from my second gtx280 with my q9650 @ 4 gz
    Reply