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 Post subject: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:19 am 
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I'm thinking of putting together a new machine quite soon, which will be used for quite a range of tasks; programming, some gaming, photo sound and video editing etc. etc.

Basically I'm wondering about the relative merits of H67 and Z68: I won't be overclocking at least to begin with, but I don't know that I can safely rule this out for the lifetime of the machine. I do want to get some use out of the IGP (I think). I quite like the idea of being able to add an SSD at some point and get some benefit from caching without having to reinstall Windows or do tedious manual file management.

I will be using a discrete graphics card - probably a GTX 560 Ti of some sort. I'd like to also be able to use the IGP both for GPGPU type stuff which I believe it ought to have some potential for, as well as QuickSync. I use two screens and am concerned about the amount of power that GPUs waste in these situations so am thus considering using the IGP as the primary output in a Virtu configuration (see viewtopic.php?f=19&t=62243). I understand that this should be possible on H67 or Z68; need to look into a bit more depth about Virtu and be careful before actually ordering a MB.

For these reasons, I don't believe P68 is appropriate. It may be, though, that in reality the IGP won't turn out to be such an important consideration.

I mostly run Windows, but spend some time in Linux as well, and have been known to have periods of a few months or more where it's my main OS; it might take a deeper hold at some point. I imagine that it will just take a bit of time for Linux to catch up on making use of Z68 features, but it seems worth noting that on the face of it, this could be incompatible with my expectations of how I want to use the IGP etc. Since the SSD caching thing is really a software feature it seems quite likely that on Linux at least implementations will come along at some point that aren't arbitrarily bound to the motherboard chipset; perhaps I'm being naive and overlooking something.

I know that it would probably be sensible to wait before jumping on Z68 in case there are teething troubles; I've been waiting for a while now and I'm not really in a desperate rush... part of me thinks it's an unnecessary indulgence to get a new computer at all (especially since it will almost certainly use considerably more power), although there are things my laptop won't really run and I don't much like the noise...


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:33 am 
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Why not wait and see what the price differential is... and see what Ivy Bridge is going to look like. If you can wait 6 months you will have a lot more information on which to make a decision.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:37 am 
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ces wrote:
Why not wait and see what the price differential is... and see what Ivy Bridge is going to look like. If you can wait 6 months you will have a lot more information on which to make a decision.


I could do; as I say I'm not desperate. At the same time, I've already been waiting for quite a while for Sandy Bridge, and then Z68... there's always more tech on the horizon.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 6:35 am 
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Ivy bridge doesn't have an official release date yet, the latest leaked road map shows it at first half of 2012, so could be from 8 months to a year, imo sandy bridge is great. I would wait only if you don't need it right away.

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My guess is intel is now that z68 is out, intel is going to focus on releasing sandy bridge E, after their ssd 700 series and after ivy bridge. Personally I'm not excited about ivy bridge, it looks like more efficient sandy bridge, with native usb3, but haswell is wherer imo we might see a good jump in performance, for that reason alone I would go sandy brige right now and skip ivy bridge, and save your money for haswell :)

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Last edited by Abula on Fri May 20, 2011 12:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:00 am 
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Abula wrote:
for that reason alone I would go sandy brige right now and skip ivy bridge.


I tend to agree. Based on what I wrote above, how would you weigh the merits of different chipsets?


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 9:05 am 
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xinaes wrote:
I tend to agree. Based on what I wrote above, how would you weigh the merits of different chipsets?
The only reason not to get the z68 is price. Plus I would expect a Z68 board to be more likely to be compatible with the Ivy Bridge when it comes out. Even though Ivy Bridge is supposed to be 1155 compatible... it will no doubt require a bios upgrade.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 2:57 pm 
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I just ordered a z68 board, but yeah, it probably comes down to price. But they're out now, so you can price them out and see what the difference really is like for the features you might need.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:20 pm 
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z68: Gives you Quicksync for video editing. But, I wouldn't touch a z68 for another 2-3 months. I don't like being a beta tester for firmware, etc. SSD caching might be helpful, mixed bag from the reviews.

h67: stable now. No quicksync if you use external gpu.

ivybridge - given release history, will be announced in Jan. Call it a stable platform in April 2012.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 6:00 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
h67: stable now. No quicksync if you use external gpu.

I thought IGP features including quicksync could be available with Virtu on H67.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 7:41 am 
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xinaes wrote:
I thought IGP features including quicksync could be available with Virtu on H67.


my bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 8:19 am 
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Essentially I think I had a fairly accurate grasp on the facts from the beginning, but it's good to get the views of people who follow this stuff more regularly (not just when it's upgrade time). Thanks everyone for the input. Glad to have clarified a few points.

Still not quite decided; I feel it would be against my better judgement to go Z68 right now. Given that my normal approach would lead me to somewhat lower end motherboards, it might make sense for me to go for H67, save (quite) a few pounds and forget about overclocking. However, I'm not certain it would be right for me to shut off this future avenue for extending the life of the machine (at least in terms of how long it continues to be viable spec for what I want to do with it).

How problematic would it likely be overclocking and keeping noise levels down in the context of a system with probably a Fractal Design R3 case, nVidia GTX 560 Ti, i5-2500K etc?

SSD caching seems like a reasonably sound idea, not sure how much the implementations will improve, or whether the results we see currently will remain representative... As I mentioned, I suspect that the arbitrary association of this software feature with a particular motherboard chipset may be a short-term anomaly in any case.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:26 am 
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xinaes wrote:
However, I'm not certain it would be right for me to shut off this future avenue for extending the life of the machine (at least in terms of how long it continues to be viable spec for what I want to do with it).


I don't know what other people's experiences are with this. But in my experience, I usually just end up buying a new computer and delegating the older one for simpler tasks. BUT that's just me. You should think about how likely it is that you'll overclock in order to extend the life of your machine... as opposed to just getting new parts or another computer.

xinaes wrote:
SSD caching seems like a reasonably sound idea, not sure how much the implementations will improve, or whether the results we see currently will remain representative... As I mentioned, I suspect that the arbitrary association of this software feature with a particular motherboard chipset may be a short-term anomaly in any case.


The advantage here is that people reap some of the benefits of an SSD without havign to buy a big one. Do you see yourself doing that? or just getting a 128GB SSD regardless? might help you decide if the value of a z68 board is good or not for your needs.

my 2c

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:05 am 
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matchu wrote:
xinaes wrote:
However, I'm not certain it would be right for me to shut off this future avenue for extending the life of the machine (at least in terms of how long it continues to be viable spec for what I want to do with it).


I don't know what other people's experiences are with this. But in my experience, I usually just end up buying a new computer and delegating the older one for simpler tasks. BUT that's just me. You should think about how likely it is that you'll overclock in order to extend the life of your machine... as opposed to just getting new parts or another computer.


Overclocking seems such a mainstream activity these days that even though I'm generally similar to you in this regard, I find it hard to dismiss the idea.

Quote:
The advantage here is that people reap some of the benefits of an SSD without havign to buy a big one. Do you see yourself doing that? or just getting a 128GB SSD regardless? might help you decide if the value of a z68 board is good or not for your needs.


The other advantages of SSD caching are not having to bother with boring micro-management of storage, reinstalling windows at the time that an SSD is added etc. I had my laptop harddisk partitioned for Linux for a while... became quite tedious. Long live Wubi and more automated ways of abstracting away that type of thing so I don't need to think about it.

edit: another advantage of SSD cache may be less trouble in the event of the SSD dying, which according to http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/0 ... scale.html is not unlikely.


Last edited by xinaes on Tue May 24, 2011 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 11:02 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
I wouldn't touch a z68 for another 2-3 months. I don't like being a beta tester for firmware, etc.


It might be noted that the same logic should probably apply to Virtu; I must admit it seems quite optimistic to imagine that the kind of setup I am proposing will run flawlessly.

edit: Indeed, while Z68 is just another motherboard chipset, very much the same in most ways to the previous Sandy Bridges, Virtu is still very much a first-gen implementation of something that has plenty of potential for causing headaches with drivers... even if it works as planned, it's likely to be more fiddly to set up and keep running smoothly with everything that's thrown at it than not having it.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 1:22 pm 
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Yeah - I thought about adding that caveat to my post, but you took the same line of thought before I got back to it.

H67 = stable.
H67 + Virtu = maybe not so stable....or more likely = quirky.

I understand NVidia is developing their own version called Synergy that will work with current gen video cards. Sort of a desktop version of Optimus.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 1:46 pm 
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xinaes wrote:
How problematic would it likely be overclocking and keeping noise levels down in the context of a system with probably a Fractal Design R3 case, nVidia GTX 560 Ti, i5-2500K etc?


Tom's Hardware review of 560 Ti with a 2600k overclocked to 4GHz and an ~85% PSU = 264W while gaming.

So, probably not that hard. Decent cpu cooler and psu...the gpu will be the component that stands out. That said there are a few non-reference design cooling solutions. MSI Twin Frozr II, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 2:44 pm 
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Interesting about Synergy; I'm sure I'd noticed it in passing but it slipped my mind.

1KW PSU :shock:
Think I could probably manage something a bit less beefy than that.

Toms doesn't seem all that explicit about impact of overclocking on noise, or maybe I just didn't look carefully enough. So I take it you don't think maintaining low noise while overclocked with appropriate cooling hardware etc should be a problem?


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:35 pm 
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Hey, just an update, I got my z68 and 2600k system running. It doesn't have a gpu in it, running with the embedded graphics. At stock speed it idled at 42W, and at high load it went up to 180W. I have a prolimatech armageddon on it, but I'm thinking of upgrading that, I've overclocked it up to 4.8GHz (I think) and the temps are in the mid 90s (I think), so I may want a bigger cooler there. It's still pretty quiet at that speed with that cooler, but I don't have a gpu in there to cause extra noise, so that may be part of it. I'm pretty happy with the system as a whole, but ymmv.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:59 pm 
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xinaes wrote:
1KW PSU :shock:
Think I could probably manage something a bit less beefy than that.

Ignore the psu wattage in the review, don't ignore the efficiency. The take-away should be that your oc'ed system with a 560 TI and an 85% PSU should use ~ 265W while gaming. You should look for a PSU that is inaudible at 265W-300W load.

xinaes wrote:
Toms doesn't seem all that explicit about impact of overclocking on noise

Nope -that is not their thing.

xinaes wrote:
So I take it you don't think maintaining low noise while overclocked with appropriate cooling hardware etc should be a problem?

Not for the CPU. Cordis confirms.

I'll leave it to you to search for the lowest dBA 560 Ti and then you may want to use MSI's Afterburner s/w to adjust the fan profile.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:47 pm 
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cordis wrote:
I got my z68 and 2600k system running. It doesn't have a gpu in it, running with the embedded graphics. At stock speed it idled at 42W, and at high load it went up to 180W.
That is 180 watts at the outlet, correct... so it is actually about 150 watts?

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:49 pm 
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ces wrote:
That is 180 watts at the outlet, correct... so it is actually about 150 watts?


The extra power draw between a stock 2600K and one overclocked to 4.7/4.8Ghz is reckoned by a variety of sources to be at least 100w at the wall so that looks about right.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:17 pm 
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The power measurement was from a kill a watt with a 700W power supply, so yeah, that's from the wall. But with my current overclock, it's only up to 225W. I'm actually going to crank it down a little, it's getting a little too hot now.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 12:59 am 
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I've done a bit of skimming and it also seems that idle power consumption is not much effected by overclocking. Is that correct? I'd be much less keen on the idea if not.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:17 am 
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xinaes wrote:
I've done a bit of skimming and it also seems that idle power consumption is not much effected by overclocking. Is that correct? I'd be much less keen on the idea if not.


If you just mess with clocks and don't overvolt, yes. Maybe 1-2W more at idle.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:41 am 
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Actually, I'm beginning to not trust most of what I hear about sandy bridge overclocking. Looking at my temps, they seem to swing pretty wildly, up to high 90s and back down to 80s and back again. I'm more used to seeing smaller swings than that, so I did some investigating. It turns out that there's a feature on these chips where if the cpu detects that it's getting to hot, it throttles the speed down until temperatures come back down. I think in my case, I'm probably exceeding the amount of heat the cooler can pull off, and that leads to the processor getting throttled, which means I'm not really running at 4.8GHz. I suspect that a lot of what you hear about in terms of amazing speeds people are seeing overclocking these is probably due to that. The bios will gladly take the new value, but if you load the cpu too much, the speed drops automatically and you are none the wiser. I'm going to start dropping my multiplier and see if I can see more stable temps. In terms of raw throughput, I think I've already hit that wall. Maybe I'll get a better cooler too. But what I'm really saying is, have a healthy dose of skepticism about numbers you see.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 1:09 pm 
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cordis wrote:
I suspect that a lot of what you hear about in terms of amazing speeds people are seeing overclocking these is probably due to that. The bios will gladly take the new value, but if you load the cpu too much, the speed drops automatically and you are none the wiser.


Or, they are using a water block cooler or a great air cooled heatsink with high rpm fans.

A direct way to see if your cpu is throttling would be to run an event like SuperPi. Pick a long run time calculation and then compare cpu clocks vs completion time. That's how I figured out Gigabyte DES on my P45 mobo was putting a duty cycle on the cpu clock to get the power savings.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 12:45 pm 
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Hey, just wanted to chime in that yes, even overclocked to 4.7GHz, my system still idles at 42W.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 2:36 pm 
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cordis wrote:
It turns out that there's a feature on these chips where if the cpu detects that it's getting to hot, it throttles the speed down until temperatures come back down.
It goes by both temperature and power consumption:
Quote:
One of the enhancements in Sandy Bridge’s power controller is that it now dynamically adjusts frequency based on both power consumption and temperature; whereas previous versions relied on changes in power consumption alone. Over short periods of time (under 30 seconds), the microprocessor can actually exceed the TDP if the microprocessor and/or heatsink are relatively cool.

So you need to track both the power and the temperature limits. The Asus boards have a setting for increasing the power limit (I think there are two power limits, short and longish term) and the Asus AI Suite software has a CPU power draw monitor somewhere.

But yeah, high 90s is around where it will throttle. The design temperature (Tcase) is 73 C.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:05 pm 
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Hi faustus, thanks for the info, I have a Asus motherboard so I'll look for those controls in bios. The new bios in it is a little more complicated than it used to be, I'm still trying to figure it out. I also recently got a noctua nh-d14 to try to get it cooler, if I can get that going and the bios sorted out, then I should wind up in good shape. When I dropped it down to 4.7GHz, it peaks into the high 80s, which would be fine with me, but I'll have to see if the bios is throttling there or not. But really, thanks for the tips! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing a Sandy Bridge chipset
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:15 pm 
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ces wrote:
Why not wait and see what the price differential is... and see what Ivy Bridge is going to look like. If you can wait 6 months you will have a lot more information on which to make a decision.
Just another rumor that places Ivy bridge even further away... almost a year away.

Image

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GameMi >> MSI Z87-GD65 | Intel Core i7-4790K | Thermalright Silver Arrow IBE + 3x Noctua NF-A15 PWM @500rpms | Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB DDR3 1600 | nVidia GTX780 + ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme IV | Samsung SA850 27'' 2560x1440 | Samsung 840pro 512GB | Hitachi 7K1000 1TB | Fractal Design Define R4 + 4x Noctua NF-A14 PWM @450rpm | SeaSonic SS-860XP2
Other builds ---> ServeMi | CamMi | MiniMi | HTPCMi


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