Pros:8 virtual cores, 256Kb L2 cache size with 8Mb L3 cache, hyperthreading
Cons:Utilizing full potential of CPU is going to be a challenge.
The Bottom Line: The Intel 920 Socket 1366 processor has plenty of multi-core speed which will make your videogames and graphics-intensive applications fly in Windows Vista 64bit.
Father's Day 2009 was fast approaching in early May 2009 and I needed a unique gift for my recently retired father. He had been using a Pentium 4 3.06Ghz 533 FSB based computer that ran very hot and I felt it was time for him to get something better. The Intel Core I7 920 seemed to be the answer. I had less than a month to build and test the machine but I trusted that Intel and Asus would give me quality hardware. Several months later, here are the results of the system I built.
To give you an idea of the performance of this processor, I used three different benchmarks: Super Pi, MCS Benchmark 2008 and the BOINC Manager benchmark. Each of these benchmarks stresses unique aspects of the processor and are heavily dependent on the supporting hardware around the processor like the memory, hard drive and motherboard chipset.
Super Pi V1.1 is an application that extrapolates the specified digits of PI into a text file. Since the task is both processor and file system intensive it can give you an idea of how fast your cpu is. Processors with large on-die cache sizes and high bus speeds tend to do better in this benchmark. The problem is the calculation is single threaded in this version so you only see the performance of one processor.
Here are the results of three runs at 1,000,000 digits of PI:
#1; 15 seconds
#2; 14 seconds
#3; 14 seconds
The Boinc Manager benchmark is designed to stress every available thread on your computer to see how many computations per second it can perform. With the results, the Boinc Manager automatically assigns distributed computing projects to your processors. The benchmark has been improved by scholars at academic institutions over the period of several years and is now a very reliable metric of modern computing performance.
Here the results of three runs:
#1; 2434 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7961 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#2; 2535 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7951 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#3; 2432 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7838 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
MCS Benchmark 2008
The MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 will test the entire system to give you an overall score based on CPU and file system performance.
Here are the results of three runs:
First, compared to the Intel E8600 socket 775 processor, the Core I7 920 is the clear winner because of the increased cache size and eight virtual cores. The Dhrystone performance of this processor is simply remarkable. The Boinc Manager is simultaneously testing each of the eight cores and you still get record breaking numbers. When you look at the SuperPi result from the Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 processor it does win the game by edging in with a time of 13 seconds. I am not impressed though because this comparison is against a processor that is clocked to a scorching 3.33 Ghz. Why did 2.66Ghz edge out and win the battle? Simple, the increased bandwidth provided by the Intel X58 and DDR3 memory in triple channel memory architecture on the ASUS P6T motherboard is skewing all of my old benchmark comparisons.
You do realize that this processor can be overclocked to 3.0Ghz on air cooling. To increase the excitement of your own overclocking hunt, I will only disclose that I was able to get a SuperPi 1,000,000 score of 10 seconds with the Intel I7 920 at 3.0 Ghz.
I also have access to high-end server hardware and can honestly say that a quad core Xeon E5450, in dual sockets on a HP DL-360G5 1U enterprise server was only able to achieve a MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 result of 23074! Now the well studied computer scientist will contradict that benchmark result by saying the ECC DDR2 Buffered RAM reduces the peak bandwidth of the server by almost 15%. Yet, I still wonder why eight physical CPU cores cannot beat the 8 virtual cores of the Intel Core I7 920.
While crunching SETI and playing the Defense Grid, we achieved the following temperatures, of course the low value is with no applications running in Windows Vista 64 bit:
Core 0 low 111 Fahrenheit high 152 Fahrenheit
Core 1 low 113 Fahrenheit high 149 Fahrenheit
Core 2 low 111 Fahrenheit high 152 Fahrenheit
Core 3 low 104 Fahrenheit high 140 Fahrenheit
If your Intel Core I7 920 is not exhibiting these same temperatures, chances are your stock CPU cooler is not doing a good job. I bought an aftermarket Socket 775 CPU cooler with heat pipe technology and a 92 MM fan to reduce noise levels.
Recommended Hardware Configuration
Since the computer was custom built around the processor, I will only recommend what I bought. You are going to need a full size desktop case with a 750 watt power supply just to get started with this processor, NVIDIA GTX 275, three sticks of DDR3 and an ASUS P6T motherboard.
Next we get to the story of operating system selection. The processor is 64bit and of course I wanted to get the full benefits from it. Windows XP Professional SP2 has a memory limit of 4Gb and can only recognize four cpu cores. My system came with three sticks of ram with a total size of 6Gb. Obviously, my father would have been using a sub par configuration with Windows XP. I had to crank out even more cash for a fully licensed copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit.
The setup was a little pricey to give away as a present but I am very happy with the results. Even after all this hardware, you are going to need at least four 80MM x 80MM fans to circulate the air in this computing beast as well. Allowing a processor to overheat will result in slower performance as the system tries to accommodate for the heat.
Processor Core: Bloomfield
CPU Cores: 8 (includes 4 hyperthreading core)
Frequency (Mhz): 2667
Bus Speed (Mhz): 2400
Socket 1366 (mPGA478b)
Data width: 64 bit
Level 1 cache size: 4x 32 Kb instruction cache, 4x 32Kb data cache
Level 2 cache size: 4x 256 Kb
Level 3 cache size: 8Mb shared for all processors
Instruction sets: MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2
You can find this processor under the following Intel part numbers: AT80601000741AA, Q1CM, Q1H7, SLBCH, SLBEJ, BXC80601920, BX80601920
For those looking for a new desktop computer that can be used as a gaming system, simply look no further. I was nervous buying this processor as a Fathers day gift but months later he is still happily emailing, gaming and try to cash his fancy PC to get me over to his house. Sorry Dad, I just do not think you can crash Windows Vista, an Asus P6T and an Intel I7.
On the other hand, the Intel I7 920 processor offers a lot for the performance junkie. Generous amounts of L2 and L3 cache mean near record performance in single threaded applications. The only problem you are going to experience is feeding the 8 virtual cores with enough memory bandwidth to satisfy their needs. Intel has you covered though with DDR3 technology that can supply tremendous bandwidth at stock speeds and even higher throughput overclocked.
Today, the Intel Core I7 920 processor is still to new to find any good deals on Ebay. Instead you should shop both Amazon, NewEgg and the occasional combo deal at Directon to satisfy your need for speed.
Read all 1 Reviews
Write a Review