Processors questions

Posted by: John Rougeux

Processors questions - 12/30/09 01:25 PM

So these are the 3 that I'm looking at. I'll probably scratch the 2.8ghz one as 2.66 seems just fine.

Comparing these 3 shows that there really isn't that much difference except in price, QPI , L2 cache, and Hyperthreading.

What is QPI?
Does L2 cache matter that much?
And what advantage is hyperthreading?


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Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 12/30/09 06:41 PM

The closer the cache is to the processor, the faster it moves. Essentially, cache stores data in the pipeline, sort of like having a batter in the box, it's faster getting the batter to the plate than moving him all the way from the dugout, plus he's warmed up and ready to go.

As closer cache (to the processor) moves more quickly, less is needed the closer it is. The combo they're using of L2 and L3 cache in the middle option is pretty damn good, IMHO.

I think the 2.66Ghz i7 is probably the best value here- you WANT hyperthreading. The quad core i7 processes eight threads simultaneously (think parallel computing... in addition to more processing cores, each core can complete two tasks at once instead of one). Also, for ten bucks more than the 2.88Ghz option, you're getting level 2 and level 3 cache, plus QPI for more memory bandwidth. (Okay, that's not all... it's a completely new way for the processor to talk to memory and other components) For an overall more robust computing experience, I'd definitely take that over the extra 1.34Ghz CPU speed. The only other concern may be wattage, if you're energy-conscious.

For the Gigabyte logic board, I lost my notes, but the model GA-P55M-UD2 or model GA-EX58-UD5 should work with either the i5 or i7.

This is a pretty good article on hyperthreading. Wikipedia has one as well.
Here's a good one on QPI.
Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 12/31/09 03:06 AM

Okay, so I updated with more complete info. This is what happens when I post between other stuff I'm doing...
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Processors questions - 12/31/09 07:13 AM

If you ask me, the best processor of the three is the i7 860, performance wise it's faster out of the box than the 920 and uses less power. Win-Win.

Plus the motherboards will cost less. Win-Win-Win.

Even though it doesn't use QPI like nehalem, it moves the PCI controller onto the processor die, so components like videocards talk directly with the CPU instead of going through the northbridge.
Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 01/02/10 10:35 AM

How will the motherboards cost less? This is a hackintosh, he wants to run OS X- he's going to be limited by what he can actually use, much more than by cost.

As for your assumption that the 860 is faster out of the box, it depends on what he intends to do with the machine (yeah, same old argument, but as you'll see at the linked test at the bottom, with a few caveats). There are many cases for which the 920 would be preferable, and it is an all-around superior platform to the 860, hands-down. As the prices are so close, even if he's only going to be doing everyday consumer-level stuff, it's still a better choice, because for the everyday stuff (word processing, iTunes stuff, etc, etc) there'd likely be no noticeable difference in performance and the prices are so close (so go for the better offering). If he wants to do things such as video encoding or heavy-lifting with Photoshop, the 920 will likely best the 860 by a decent margin.

Intel's Spec Stuff

Here is a good comparison, not just between these two processors, but alongside the i5, Core2 Quad, and AMD's offering (AMD... HAHAHA, whatever :oP ). Their tests would appear to reveal that the 920 is, per cycle, faster than the 860. However, they seem to prefer the i5 for overall value (price-to-performance ratio), and that may be something to consider.
Posted by: John Rougeux

Re: Processors questions - 01/02/10 10:41 AM

I plan on using Photoshop CS4 and some light video editing (iMovie or Final Cut Express).
Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 01/02/10 10:49 AM

What's interesting is that, per Intel's specs, the 920's bus speed completely swallows the 860's at nearly twice the speed, but this doesn't seem to reveal itself in the benchmarks.
Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 01/02/10 03:16 PM

Another thing I'll mention, where I disagree with some of the benchmarks listed, is that I don't think those tests gave a fair estimate of the i7's hyperthreading capability. Hyperthreading is for multitasking, so that is when it is going to shine brightest.

It would be nice if someone, at some point, conducted some 'real world' testing, by maybe encoding some audio or video, while playing it back, while running a Photoshop filter.
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Processors questions - 01/05/10 06:12 AM

Originally Posted By: Antonio
How will the motherboards cost less? This is a hackintosh, he wants to run OS X- he's going to be limited by what he can actually use, much more than by cost.


LGA 1156 boards are generally cheaper than 1366 boards. Of course there are plenty of 1156 boards more expensive, all depends on what goodies are included.

As for tests, I've seen plenty of reviews showing the 860 is faster out of the box (notice I don't mention overclocking) than the 920, plus it's more energy efficient which is always a good thing. Of course, as you mention it's a hackintosh, so compatibility is more important, and the prices are going to be pretty close anyway. Hyperthreading is too overrated to even be a consideration IMO, but the

Also the 920's are being phased out, new chips are going the way of the 860's design.
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Processors questions - 01/05/10 06:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Antonio
What's interesting is that, per Intel's specs, the 920's bus speed completely swallows the 860's at nearly twice the speed, but this doesn't seem to reveal itself in the benchmarks.


Of course not, the 920 is talking to PCI and memory components through the northbridge, where the 860 bypasses the northbridge altogether as it's controllers are directly on the chip.
Posted by: Antonio

Re: Processors questions - 01/06/10 09:09 AM

Originally Posted By: SgtBaxter
Originally Posted By: Antonio
How will the motherboards cost less? This is a hackintosh, he wants to run OS X- he's going to be limited by what he can actually use, much more than by cost.


LGA 1156 boards are generally cheaper than 1366 boards. Of course there are plenty of 1156 boards more expensive, all depends on what goodies are included.

As for tests, I've seen plenty of reviews showing the 860 is faster out of the box (notice I don't mention overclocking) than the 920, plus it's more energy efficient which is always a good thing. Of course, as you mention it's a hackintosh, so compatibility is more important, and the prices are going to be pretty close anyway. Hyperthreading is too overrated to even be a consideration IMO, but the


I'm not going to beat a dead horse here...

Originally Posted By: SgtBaxter
Also the 920's are being phased out, new chips are going the way of the 860's design.


This is based on what, exactly? There have been rumors of the 920 being phased out before. This shouldn't be surprising- all components have an EOL. BTW, this time around, it's in preparation to release the 930- which isn't based on the 860. Revisions come, revisions go. Also, it's normal that the more beneficial attributes of a component's design are incorporated in future components. This will likely be true of both the 860 and 920... not that it has anything to do with what I'd build now.

Don't misunderstand me, I think the 860 is a fine and very capable chip. But for the cost comparison, I'd opt for the 920. (I've noticed that folks tend to be die-hard toward one or the other model processor.)