Core i7-870 Overclocking And Fixing Blown P55-Based Boards

Benchmark Settings

While the focus of today’s article is power-draw increase due to overclocking, a few users won’t be satisfied unless they see the actual performance increase. For that, we repeated the full benchmark set from our previous motherboard round-up.

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz, 8.0MB Cache)
MotherboardAsus P7P55D v1.02G, BIOS 0606 (09/03/2009)
Overclock 14.28 GHz at 194.7 MHz Base Clock, 1.448V Full Load
Overclock 23.77 GHz at 171.5 MHz Base Clock, 1.248V Full Load
Overclock 34.04 GHz at 183.6 MHz Base Clock, 1.344V Full Load
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120
RAMKingston KHX2133C9D3T1K2/4GX (4GB)
DDR3-2133 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition
670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB
10,000 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, 16MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair CMPSU-850HX
850W, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 190.62 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1014


Thermalright’s MUX-120 cooler is barely big enough to cool our fully-overclocked i7-870 processor at 1.45V under the stress of eight Prime95 threads, even with an ambient temperature of 22 degrees Celsius.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear SkyClear Sky Benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX10 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX10 EFDL, 4x MSAA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: 8.2.1.6 x64
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min
TMPEGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 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, 224Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus base: 270.12.16/2094, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00 x64, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • bucifer
    I would be great to see how the more popular i7 860 or at least i5 750 scale with the voltage.
    I don't think i7 870 is a popular choice because of it's price (people would go for socket 1336)
  • Other Comments
  • cyberkuberiah
    but some of us would rather give some extra beans and go 920 , and have dual pcie2.0 x16 . a few extra watts doesn't matter too .
  • Anonymous
    FYI: Power consumption of switching cmos silicon increases with the square of voltage, and linear with frequency. The increases shown here seem to be in line with that, rather than the stated decrease in voltage regulator efficiency (which certainly does decrease, but probably much less).
  • Crashman
    dan__gFYI: Power consumption of switching cmos silicon increases with the square of voltage, and linear with frequency. The increases shown here seem to be in line with that, rather than the stated decrease in voltage regulator efficiency (which certainly does decrease, but probably much less).


    Can you turn that into a more accurate estimate than 200W to 240W, where all that can be proven is that it's "high, but less than 240W"?
  • jeffunit
    Are your power consumption measurements of the cpu, dc power or wall socket power? If they are the latter, which I suspect they are, then you have to factor in the power supply efficiency, as 150w socket, means 150w DC.
  • bucifer
    I would be great to see how the more popular i7 860 or at least i5 750 scale with the voltage.
    I don't think i7 870 is a popular choice because of it's price (people would go for socket 1336)
  • ctbaars
    Thanks for article.
    For me - This and previous articles have convinced me to game at stock, w/ tb+ settings on, and a high end GPU card and the i5 is most appropriate for my usage. I need to condition myself to turn off the computer esp. when noone is home.
  • avatar_raq
    Although Thomas labels Asrock as "succeeds" I will not buy their motherboards, you'll never know what else this company ignores in the bios, and do you think they would fix that issue if it weren't for THG? After how many failing boards?
  • tecmo34
    cyberkuberiahbut some of us would rather give some extra beans and go 920 , and have dual pcie2.0 x16 . a few extra watts doesn't matter too .

    I agree with you 110%... :D

    Also, I would like to see the voltage scaling using the i5 750, as mentioned by bucifer
  • Onus
    A few extra watts being "used" is fine. A few extra watts being "wasted" is something else entirely.
    I don't see a howling difference on these overclocks either. If I bought an i7, that probably means I'd have little reason to OC it.

    While ASRock seems to be taking a "successive approximations" approach to improving their products, the ones I've bought so far have all been solid, but any OC has been mild.
    And, once again (even if it isn't quite epic), MSI = FAIL.
  • jerreece
    I was glad to see this article. I was just thinking about this whole debacle this morning. :)
  • Anonymous
    "The result of huge power losses with moderate performance gains is a decrease in efficiency of over one third at our highest settings"

    The first thing i care about when over clocking is being "green"
    Why is this even in the report?
  • Crashman
    Antigreen"The result of huge power losses with moderate performance gains is a decrease in efficiency of over one third at our highest settings"The first thing i care about when over clocking is being "green" Why is this even in the report?


    Sometimes you can acgtually gain efficiency when overclocking: This is especially true when voltage levels aren't altered.
  • cyberkuberiah
    avatar_raqAlthough Thomas labels Asrock as "succeeds" I will not buy their motherboards, you'll never know what else this company ignores in the bios, and do you think they would fix that issue if it weren't for THG? After how many failing boards?


    i'd go with evga/asus ,and for amd , gigabyte or asus . the crosshair 3 formula is top end at just 200 dollars .
  • Shadow703793
    Can some one please make a list of what motherboards use the problamatic Foxconn socket?
  • warezme
    Whats wrong with 3.8Ghz? Its good overclock, with minimal stress on all your junk. Why folks have to push their stuff to 4Ghz or higher stressing the hell out of the hardware just for a couple more lousy FPS. I have an X58 that can push voltage and run at 4.2Ghz but voltage and heat requirements go up way to much and only give me a few more FPS. Its not really worth it.
  • grimjester
    CrashmanCan you turn that into a more accurate estimate than 200W to 240W, where all that can be proven is that it's "high, but less than 240W"?


    I'm not sure how to interpret the results, but the best fit I get for trying to get a constant W / (GHz * V^2) is a base load of only 7W plus a draw of 36.63-36.72W * frequency in GHz * voltage squared. The fit is fairly accurate; there's a 0,26% difference between the min and the max.

    Obviously stuff other than the CPU draws more than 7W, but I don't know enough about the hardware to give an explanation. I'd assume that you get fairly close to 7W + (voltage^2 * GHz * 36,7W) if you measure the draw at other speeds and voltages though.
  • Proximon
    Thanks Crashman, this goes towards a resolution and at least we have a few lower budget boards now that look to be relatively safe.

    Didn't you use a different PSU last time? Playing it safe with the higher quality 850HX maybe?
  • Crashman
    Shadow703793Can some one please make a list of what motherboards use the problamatic Foxconn socket?


    ASRock, Asus, Biostar, ECS, Foxconn, Gigabyte, and MSI use Foxconn sockets. Jetway and EVGA use the cheaper Lotes sockets.
  • Crashman
    warezmeWhats wrong with 3.8Ghz? Its good overclock, with minimal stress on all your junk. Why folks have to push their stuff to 4Ghz or higher stressing the hell out of the hardware just for a couple more lousy FPS. I have an X58 that can push voltage and run at 4.2Ghz but voltage and heat requirements go up way to much and only give me a few more FPS. Its not really worth it.


    Uh, d00d, let me see if I can explain this in terms you can understand: 1.45V has been used for 45nm Intel processors long enough that it's now a standardized OC test voltage. There are many reasons for it having become this standardized test voltage, including the fact that it's considered the maximum safe voltage in some Intel documentation, that it's the maximum voltage most processors can run using above-ambient cooling, that it's the spot just before power consumption spikes, etc. It makes sense, and because it's NOT extreme, was never extreme, was never intended to be extreme, and is in no way extreme, it's something that any overclocking motherboard should tollerate.

    We understand that cheap boards exist. If you're going to market a cheap board towards low-cost overclocking, you need to put in over-current protection. If you're going to market an even cheaper board with no protection, you need to disable the overclocking features.

    It's one way or the other, when it comes to overclocking either do it right or don't do it at all. Half-fast solutions aren't acceptable in the overclocking market. It's a quality issue, and Tom's Hardware has tested MANY high-quality budget parts in the past.

    There's no excuse to cut quality when you can instead cut features to produce a cheap product. IE, if you really really really wanted to make a board that could only do 1.35V before blowing the VRM, and really wanted to sell it without overcurrent protection, you'd really really really want to limit the BIOS settings to 1.35V. Because when you didn't, you'd get caught with your pants down by a site such as this one.

    To not report such a finding would be proof of a lack of integrity. To give up testing at this setting would be to cave in for low-quality products at the expense of not revealing the superiority of high-quality products. The reader isn't served, the industry is disserviced, everyone loses.


    ProximonThanks Crashman, this goes towards a resolution and at least we have a few lower budget boards now that look to be relatively safe.Didn't you use a different PSU last time? Playing it safe with the higher quality 850HX maybe?


    Nah, same power supply since September, might have forgotten to change the model in the setup table.
  • JeanLuc
    cyberkuberiahbut some of us would rather give some extra beans and go 920 , and have dual pcie2.0 x16 . a few extra watts doesn't matter too .


    Why do you want dual x16 slot when it offers no extra benefit? You might want to give this a read http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI-Express_Scaling/7.html before you start clicking that thumbs down button, and if you do disagree please tell me why I'm wrong.

    Even the most powerful card in the world can't saturate an x8 slot according to that source.