Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Part 2 | The Best CPU?

It has been my intention, all week, to tell you about my most recent hardware upgrade, and why I have a new recommendation for those who are interested in maximum computer performance — I rebuilt a machine into an i7, X58, DDR 3, SLI ‘rig’ (the latest technologies) and its performance is impressive. I am quite taken with the i7/X58 combo.

I feel I should try to explain the significant architectural changes that occured with the “i” series CPU‘s (and why they needs a ’50 series’ chipset) but, I am well aware that most readers are not Geek-y enough to enjoy hearing about bus speeds, or the fact that the “i-series” does away with the southbridge. Um, wait.. does away with the northbridge.. or.. something, and replaces it with on-chip “QPI” (which is faster).

So.. I will quit there, and try my best to avoid jargon from here on out. I remind you that I wrote a 4-part series on the ‘How To’s’ of upgrading your CPU, and suggest it as a starting point.. (please refer to part 1, Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU).

Starting with the CPU: The Intel i7-920 is the “consumer grade” CPU which quickly captured the attention of PC enthusiasts, Geeks and Gamers — not only due to outstanding base benchmarks, but because of its ease-of-overclocking, and stability when over-clocked (used to attain levels of performance beyond the specified values). It currently can be found for $199.

The first thing I did to mine was simply change the bclock (baseclock) from the stock 133 MHz to 166 (one BIOS  setting adjustment). Without having to add a heavy-duty CPU cooler, or do any other drastic ‘mods’, my CPU went from the ‘stock’ (out-of-the-box) 2.67 GHz – which was plenty fast – to just shy of 3.5 GHz.
Which is a hair faster.

(Articles I have read on various enthusiast/over-clockers Websites all seem to agree that the 920 can be over-clocked to over 4 GHz, but I would not consider trying that w/o also upgrading my power supply and cooling. For those of you a bit curious as to what “over-clocking” might entail, this PDF is a How To Overclock The i7 tutorial written for a specific motherboard, but gives you the gist.
Also: PC World article, Overclocking for Newbies)


Another other factor that has me truly liking my i7-920 is that its “i-series” technology gives me true hyper-threading. This means that the “quad-core” CPU is seen as eight CPU’s by the operating system.. as seen in this Task Manager screenshot.


If you are at all Geek-y, you will have noticed that the average load at the time this was captured is a mere 1%.

If you are at all Geek-y, let me clue you a bit more:
* this is Vista 32-bit (i.e., not particularly multi-core savvy).
* this is while Avast! 5.0 antivirus is running a deep scan.
* while not particularly relevant.. also Open were Outlook 14, Live Messenger, Speedfan, CPU-Z, SIW, and Spider Solitaire. When I launch Call of Duty 6, the load goes up a bit… but, I have not yet attained a “wait-until-100%-unsticks” .. which hits my Core 2 Duo/4 GB Vista laptop all too frequently (and I don’t “game” on it).
* If you are not particularly Geek-y, this translates to: the i7 has the performance horsepower to handle “multi-tasking” with aplomb, and the times when the “wheel just spins” (or.. hourglass) are much fewer (and don’t take nearly as long), and your windows open faster.

Well.. that’s enough for today. In Part 3 I will discuss why I went with the X58 instead of the more affordable X55 motherboard.. and talk a bit about tri-channel RAM.

Continue toPart 3 | The Best CPU?

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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February 24, 2010 Posted by | computers, hardware, how to, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments