Tech – for Everyone

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

Part 3 | The Best CPU?

This week I started an article series due to my most recent PC hardware upgrade, as 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’ and its performance is impressive. I am quite taken with the i7/X58 combo.
[note: each of those acronyms is “clickable” for those interested in learning more details. I will try to avoid Geek jargon here..]Intel_Core_i7
Earlier, I wrote a 4-part series on the ‘How To’s’ of upgrading your CPU, and suggest it as a preface (please refer to part 1, Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU).

In the previous Part 2 | The Best CPU? I started discussing this hardware upgrade by focusing on i7-920 CPU. Hyper-threading, new chip architecture, and easy (stable) over-clocking give this CPU performance numbers that make it arguably the best CPU available to us “consumers” today. And it has been around long enough now that the price has dropped to “reasonable”.

  • Turbo Boost technology – To maximize speed for heavy applications
  • Hyper Threading – Intel has brought back its hyper threading technology first seen in its Pentium Processors to allow a new level of parallel performance with 8 threads available for multi-tasking.
  • QuickPath Interconnect – is designed for increased bandwidth and low latency. It can achieve data transfer speeds as high as 25.6 GB/sec.
  • Smart Cache – For better and more optimized handling of cache memory
  • Integrated Memory Controllers – Supporting three channels of DDR3 Memory (1066 Mhz) to produce a whopping 25.6 Gb/Sec memory bandwidth.
  • HD Boost – For improved performance in a wide spectrum of Multimedia and compute-intensive applications.

[a brief aside: to be fair, this thread on Tom’s, (GAMERS ONLY) i7 vs 955/ is 300$ worth it?, posits that a particular (over-clocked) AMD CPU is the smarter way to go for gamers.. and I think the writer’s point may be correct.]

But going with an i7 as your upgrade path does mean that you will also need a new motherboard.

The i-Series CPU’s new design and on-chip features require a new socket, chipset, and also the newer DDR3 RAM memory –> the i7 needs to be matched to a “50-series” chipset.

I went with the newer X58 chipset because I was building a “performance gaming rig” with dual graphics cards, in what is known as an “SLI/Crossfire” configuration (the motherboard must have two or more PCIe graphics “slots”) and the X58 motherboards have the ICH10R chip which allows – for the first time really – both cards to transfer data at 16x. The 55’s don’t have the ICH10R.
(Prior to this, the 16x graphics datapath was ‘split’ between cards in an SLI config to 8x, 8x. With the X58/ICH10R it is 16x, 16x.)

The Intel X58 Express Chipset supports the latest 45nm Intel Core i7 processor family at 6.4 GT/s and 4.8 GT/s speeds via the Intel® QuickPath Interconnect (Intel® QPI). Additionally, this chipset delivers dual x16 or quad x8 PCI Express* 2.0 graphics card support, and support for Intel® High Performance Solid State Drives. SLI

Now, I would like to tell you that this effectively doubled my graphics cards’ ability to pump out the frames-per-second.. but if you have been around computers for a while you will know that doubling some performance number or other does not make your computer appear to do things twice as fast. Machines simply don’t work that way.

What it does mean is, the machine is capable of handling a heavier ‘load’ before you notice slow downs. And in computer graphics, ‘load’ means things like driving a larger monitor at a higher resolution. And specific to computer gaming, ‘load’ means ‘features’ — like shading, anti-aliasing, and Vsync, etc. — often referred to as “the bells and whistles”.

I can tell you it is true, if you can run your game on a large screen, with the “bells and whistles” on (or “dialed up”) and you do not experience slow downs, such as lag or a slideshow style framerate, you will have a better gaming experience. Typically that means you become more “immersed” in the game’s environment… mostly because it is more “real looking”.

I will continue this .. hopefully Monday. I hope you all have a great weekend.

News Item: Microsoft uses the courts to shutdown cybercriminals. See, Cracking Down on Botnets.
Botnets – networks of compromised computers controlled by hackers known as “bot-herders” – have become a serious problem in cyberspace.  Their proliferation has led some to worry that the botnet problem is unsolvable.¹ Under the control of a hacker or group of hackers, botnets are often used to conduct various attacks ranging from denial of service attacks on websites, to spamming, click fraud, and distribution of new forms of malicious software.

¹ emphasis, mine.

Skip to Part 4 The Best CPU? Hardware Upgrade, cont.

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

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February 27, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, performance, tech, upgrading | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments