Trying to make our investigation more in-depth, we decided not to limit ourselves with only two main heroes of our today’s article - Core i7-2600K and Core i7-990X Extreme Edition. Besides these two, we also tested the today’s current products in the price range above $300, as well as less expensive Core i5-2500K and Phenom II X6 1100T, which top the corresponding families. As a result, this article may serve not only as a practical comparison of the current top overclocker CPUs in the Core i7 family, but also as a broader comparison of expensive contemporary processors.
As a result, we ended up using the following hardware and software components for our testbeds:
- AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban, 6 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.4 GHz, 8 MB L3);
- Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition (Gulftown, 6 cores, 3.46 GHz, 12 MB L3).
- Intel Core i7-970 (Gulftown, 6 cores, 3.2 GHz, 12 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-960 (Bloomfiled, 4 cores, 3.2 GHz, 8 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-875K (Lynnfiled, 4 cores, 2.93 GHz, 8 MB L3).
- CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme with Enermax Everest fan;
- ASUS Crosshair IV Formula (Socket AM3, AMD 890FX + SB850, DDR3 SDRAM);
- Gigabyte P55A-UD6 (LGA1156, Intel P55 Express);
- ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express);
- Gigabyte X58A-UD5 (LGA1366, Intel X58 Express).
- 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX);
- x 2 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Crucial BL3KIT25664TG1608).
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
- Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
- Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
- Intel Chipset Driver 22.214.171.1245;
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.1.0.1008;
- ATI Catalyst 11.2 Display Driver.
We performed two comparisons between the participating processors: in nominal mode and in overclocked mode, since they are targeted for computer enthusiasts.
Performance in Nominal Mode
As usual, we use SYSmark 2007 suite to estimate the processor performance in general-purpose tasks. It emulates the usage models in popular office and digital content creation and processing applications. The idea behind this test is fairly simple: it produces a single score characterizing the average computer performance.
Right away we get the results that fit perfectly into our theory about quad-core Sandy Bridge being better than six-core Gulftown. SYSmark 2007 test shows average performance in general-purpose applications, which are often not so well optimized for multi-threading. Therefore, in this case higher relative performance of individual cores offered by the new-generation microarchitecture turned out more useful than larger number of cores. Core i7-2600K is 8% faster than Core i7-990X Extreme Edition. Moreover, the performance of our “extreme” processor turned out even lower than that of another less expensive Sandy Bridge CPU - Core i5-2500K.
I would like to add the following table to the diagram above. It contains detailed SYSmark 2007 results sorted according to the types of applications: