Our CPU test bench is for the most part the same as it was when we reviewed Sandy Bridge E. We started using a new Z68 motherboard for Intel chips, the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 reviewed here. All the ‘high to middle end’ offerings are included, such as the $260 Bulldozer FX 8150, the $230 i5 2500K, down to the $190 1100T. The Core i7 2700K sits at $370, replacing the 2600K which is still available for $330. It is the most expensive CPU of the bunch, with the exception of the Core i7 Extreme 3960X for $1050.
Here’s a look at the test systems used in this review:
|i7 3960X||i7 2700K||i7 2600K, i5 2500K||FX 8150||Phenom II X6 1100T|
Intel X79 Chipset
Intel Z68 Chipset
Intel P67 Chipset
|Asus Crossfire V Formula
AMD 990FX/SB950 Chipset
|Memory||8GB (4x2GB) Corsair XMS3 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24||8GB (2x4GB) Patriot Viper Extreme 1600 MHz 8-9-8-24|
|Hard Drive||Crucial M4 128GB
|Video Card||MSI Hawk
ATI Radeon HD6870 1GB
|Motherboard Drivers||Intel INF 126.96.36.1992|
|Intel INF 188.8.131.520|
|Video Drivers||Catalyst 11.9|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional x64 Edition SP1|
As always, we start things off with SiSoft Sandra. This time, we redid all the tests using the latest version 2012 SP1.
SiSoft Sandra 2012 SP1
When it comes to setting expectations of what to expect from a CPU today and in the future, none do it better than SiSoft Sandra. With individual tests for each individual component of a CPU (and even GPU) with support for the latest extensions, it is always useful to start out with this application.
We’ll start off with a look at arithmetic performance, or “pure math” performance. A score is given in GOPS, and is an aggregate of Dhrystone and Whetstone performance (so floating point and integer performance combined). SSE4.2 is used when possible for the integer test (on the Intel chips and Bulldozer), otherwise ALU is used. For floating point performance, SSE3 is used on all chips.
Here we see a direct correlation to clock speed and cores, as you’d expect. This shows how well extra threads can improve performance, even with the same number of physical cores.
Next, we’ll test “multimedia” performance, which is a real-world fractal generating benchmark. This one supports AVX instructions, which is used by Bulldozer and Sandy Bridge-E. The rest are using SSE4:
Again no big shock here, except to show how going from Core i5 to Core i7 can make a pretty significant improvement in pure performance in these synthetic tests. What we have to find out is how things look with real world examples, which we’ll get to right away.
On the next page, we’ll begin exploring real world performance using the useful benchmarking tool PCMark 7.