Articles: CPU

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Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

So, the primary competitors to our today’s hero, Core i7-3820, will be Core i7-3930K and Core i7-2700K. Note that we tested all three processors twice: in the nominal mode and during the above described overclocking. We also included the performance numbers of another CPU with similar price point – Core i7-2600K, but only in its nominal mode.

Therefore, we ended up utilizing the following hardware and software components:

  • Processors:
    • Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.4 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-2700K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.5 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-3820 (Sandy Bridge-E, 4 cores, 3.6 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 10 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-3930K (Sandy Bridge-E, 6 cores, 3.2 GHz, 1.5 MB L2 + 12 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: NZXT Havik 140;
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (LGA1155, Intel Z68 Express);
    • ASUS Rampage IV Formula (LGA2011, Intel X79 Express).
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX);
    • 4 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (2 x Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX).
  • Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Classified 3 GB (03G-P3-1588-AR);
  • System drive: Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2).
  • Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Management Engine Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology;
    • NVIDIA GeForce 285.62 Driver.


General Performance

As usual, we use Bapco SYSmark 2012 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 characterized the average computer performance.

All three quad-core processors taking part in our today’s test session perform at almost the same level no matter what platform that is. The LGA 2011 platform obviously doesn’t have any features that could improve the system performance over the competitors, that is why the results of Core i7-3820 in SYSmark 2012 fall between those of Core i7-2700K and Core i7-3930K, which corresponds completely to the formal characteristics of these processors. The six-core Core i7-3930K is about 12% ahead of its quad-core brother, which is also quite what we have expected.

The results obtained in overclocked mode are also quite up to our expectations. Six-core processor working at 4.7 GHz frequency maintains leadership in this test, and Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.9 GHz, is 2.5% ahead of Core i7-3820 working at 4.7 GHz frequency.

Let’s take a closer look at the performance scores SYSmark 2012 generates in different usage scenarios. Office Productivity scenario emulates typical office tasks, such as text editing, electronic tables processing, email and Internet surfing. This scenario uses the following applications: ABBYY FineReader Pro 10.0, Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Outlook 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Microsoft Word 2010 and WinZip Pro 14.5.

Media Creation scenario emulates the creation of a video clip using previously taken digital images and videos. Here they use popular Adobe suites: Photoshop CS5 Extended, Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5.

Web Development is a scenario emulating web-site designing. It uses the following applications: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.

Data/Financial Analysis scenario is devoted to statistical analysis and prediction of market trends performed in Microsoft Excel 2010.

3D Modeling scenario is fully dedicated to 3D objects and rendering of static and dynamic scenes using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, Autodesk AutoCAD 2011 and Google SketchUp Pro 8.

The last scenario called System Management creates backups and installs software and updates. It involves several different versions of Mozilla Firefox Installer and WinZip Pro 14.5.

Note that in most cases Core i7-3820 is a little slower than Core i7-2700K. It may seem a little puzzling, because the new LGA 2011 CPU has higher clock frequency and larger L3 cache. However, do not forget about the peculiarities of the LGA 2011 platform, which we have already mentioned many times in this and previous articles. The cache-memory in Sandy Bridge-E processors works slower than in regular Sandy Bridge CPUs, and quad-channel memory controller performs fast only during multi-threaded requests, while during regular type of activity it falls behind the dual-channel memory in LGA 1155 systems. As a result, the performance of a quad-core LGA 2011 CPU is closer to that of a quad-core LGA 1155 processors working at 200 MHz lower clock frequency.

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