Hard Choices Essential Update: Intel’s New CPUs

By Jeremy Laird on April 30th, 2012 at 9:51 am.

Quick update for all you hardware chappies – Intel’s NDA for the new Ivy Bridge generation CPUs lifted earlier this week and the lawyers are back in their cages. The first reviews are out and it’s just as I predicted. Ivy Bridge is positively stultifying.

The headline news is that clockspeeds are essentially static, Intel hasn’t added extra CPU cores and the per-core, per-clock performance has increased only very marginally. In the real world, the roughly five per cent performance boost isn’t something you are ever going to notice on the desktop, in a game – anywhere.

Now that’s at default, factory speeds. My one remaining hope regards Ivy Bridge was that the fancy new 22nm 3D Tri-gate transistors would allow for stellar overclocking. As it turned out, my Ivy Bridge samples hit the wall at exactly the same speed as the 32nm Sandy Bridge gen chips I’ve had since they appeared a year ago. So that’s around 5GHz. Still excellent, then, just no actual improvement.

The explanation of course, is that Intel is all about mobile and ultra-mobile. That’s where all the growth is so Intel doesn’t care about the desktop any longer. Which explains why the emphasis this time around was on improving the performance of the integrated graphics core. Which is a lot better. But it’s still completely crap. It was ever thus.

Having said all that, Ivy Bridge is very marginally better than the existing Sandy Bridge generation, so my “buy” advice is hereby officially updated from Intel Core i5-2500K to its direct successor, the Intel Core i5-3570K. But if you bought a 2500K recently, rest assured it’s as near as dammit as good.

Oh and the other good bit of news is that Intel has stuck with the LGA1155 socket, so you may not need a new motherboard for Ivy Bridge. Check on your board manufacturer’s website for details of required BIOS updates. If you are buying a new board, make it a Z77 chipset like I said in the motherboard guide. It’s one hell of a chipset.

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80 Comments »

  1. lunarplasma says:

    Doesn’t the Ivy Bridge at least have the advantage of not consuming as much power?

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      No, pretty much the same. Slightly less, but nothing stellar. Around 10 watts or so.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        You could run an entire nano pc on that nowadays. What does the Raspberry Pie run on?

        • grundus says:

          I believe the RPi is USB powered, so 5V at 500mA at the most, aka 2.5W.

          Still, 10W is no big deal, inefficiency in your PSU most likely accounts for more than that so you might find it cheaper to buy a more efficient PSU rather than a more efficient CPU.

          • Starky says:

            10W is a VERY big deal – maybe not for gamers – but for industry it is huge. you’re talking a saving of millions per annum for some of the big tech companies per watt of electricity they can save.

    • Typhuseth says:

      That would be a fair assumption seeing as how Intel are gearing for laptop and mobile computing with it.

    • frightlever says:

      Future chips will be focussed on lower power. This is first generation of the new die size, so maybe let somebody else guinea pig it for a year when, hopefully, there’ll be a low power CPU and low power grafix card combination to let me pack a X51-alike into a tiny case which will still give decent FPS at 1080P.

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      Colthor says:

      77 watt TDP compared to 95W, so nearly a fifth less. ‘Course, that’s TDP; dunno how much difference there is in practice.

    • Initialised says:

      Both CPUs at the same clock, the Ivy runs ~80W and the Sandy would push over 100W but.. the Sandybridge runs cooler as there’s a problem getting heat off the Ivy-Bridge due to the IHS.

  2. wodin says:

    The whole industry is stagnating, or being directed towards tablets and mobiles, not just software but hardware aswell.

    This is why more than any other time the PC as a desktop could well be under threat. Because the hardware manufacturers will end up concentrating on making tech for the new devices, as thats where the money is and it’s also where the people will constantly upgrade there devices, think of phones, people buy a new one every year! Not many do that with a PC.

    I’ve mentioned this over at The Wargamer forum. Some agree some don’t. I never believed consoles would be the demise of the PC. However with the next gen consoles arriving soon coupled with the rise of the tablets and mobile\casual gaming, I’m telling you it could well be in trouble.

      • wodin says:

        Can’t remember that article. These are justmy fears and what I see or sense happening in the tech industry which will always follow the money.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      The PC desktop as a browse-the-internet, dick-around device? Quite possibly. As a gaming device? Unlikely. That leaves all the people that have to use them to do real things in the real world, like typing very long things, CAD, design, running payrolls and accounting software, etc, etc … are they going to be fighting with tablets and touch-screens to do all this. Are they fuck.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I helped my parents shop for a new PC recently. They needed something quickly and buying and building parts wasn’t an option, so I checked the Hard Choices articles and comments and met them at the shops to check out the pre-built options.

      Looking around the six different shops we visited left me absolutely confused and bewildered by the state of the industry.

      Half of those shops did not sell tower case PCs of any sort. They stocked only laptops and “all-in-one” PCs (the sort where the PC is built into the base of the monitor) — neither of which (by the looks of it) could be upgraded at all, or repaired at home. If something goes wrong with any component, you’re basically screwed.

      Of the shops that stocked some tower-case PCs, the selection was pretty pitiful. There were five options in total (two of which were actually micro ATX cases) at the place we purchased from.

      I was actually reasonably happy with the machine they bought, but I was shocked by the lack of choices — if that one machine hadn’t been there, there was literally nothing else (from any of the shops) that I could happily recommend to them for their purposes.

      We concluded that because the mass market customer has no ability to open a case and replace a component, they actually see no benefit at all to a tower case over an “all in one” PC, whereas the compactness of the latter seems beneficial.

      To my mind, this has worrying implications for the PC gaming industry, because I doubt that many of those all-in-one machines have decent gaming hardware in them, and so the days of the average PC owner being able to buy and run games with vaguely demanding system requirements would be numbered, and therefore the days of developers being able to create games with demanding system requirements would also be numbered.

      And while I don’t think every game needs to be a resource hog (my own PC isn’t the gruntiest, and personally I’m more likely to be playing an old classic than a new blockbuster), I do think that resource-intensive games have driven some parts of the hardware industry for years, and that drive for improvements might be waning.

      Hopefully these machines are more powerful than I’m giving them credit for, and this is basically all nonsense on my part; but on gut reaction, it seems like a valid concern.

      (Admittedly, the potential flip side could be that developers stopped trying to make everything super-shiny, and started concentrating on making better games with the same technology; and that could well be a very good thing.)

      • soldant says:

        The rise in laptops and AIOs reflects the general public’s interests. PC gaming isn’t going away but we’re not mainstream. When most people play games on their PC, they’re casual browser games. Otherwise they have a console, or a tablet. For them less-powerful AIOs make more sense; they take up less space, use less power in general, and still have plenty of grunt for their general computing tasks. Most people don’t care about opening up the case or upgrading; they’ll keep it until it gets too slow or it needs repairs, at which point they’ll either get a new one or send it away for repairs. By the time hardware fails (unless the machine hasn’t been looked after, like it’s overheated due to terminal accumulation of dust) it’s probably due for an upgrade anyway.

        But again the potential death of the ATX tower in the general computing sector means pretty much nothing for PC gamers. Super high end video cards certainly haven’t disappeared despite the rise of consoles and the reduced interest in ATX cases for general computing. The form factor isn’t dead, upgrading isn’t dead, and none of it is going to die soon. You can highlight the value of an ATX case as much as you like, but if the audience doesn’t care and sees no reason to care, it’s a pointless battle. The PC gaming audience however does care, but we’re a separate market so what happens outside doesn’t matter so much.

      • wodin says:

        You’d have been best doing what I do, goto to an online retailer that lets you choose your components, they are usually cheaper and you get the hardware you want.

        PC Specialists is one and the other I recently used is Cyberpower.

        Never ever go to a retail store to buy a PC desktop, laptop fair enough, but not a desktop.

    • enobayram says:

      I’m actually a bit happy that this mobile computing craze is happening right now. For years, hardware manufacturers have been pushing performance up with proportional increase in dissipated power. It’s bad for the environment and the high power dissipation narrows the application. I think it’s good that they are also competing in the power frontier now. As for PC gaming; there’s no reason that the number of PC gamers would drop. We have always been and we’ll always be numerous enough to fund hardware development for our needs.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I’m not sure why there needs to be a constant doubling performance curve for pc gaming to be viable. It’s all about person number ratios, not execution rates.

      How many people have PCs, and what percentage of them want to play games on them. Also how do those numbers compare to other platforms with similar cost of development?

      To tell the truth, using a platform that isn’t doubling every couple years is much more pleasant. The software can more or less just work. Stuff doesn’t have to be rewritten as often. We can fix bugs and make things more reliable.

      Sure, if this comes about because all the users go to tablets and phones, the amount of entertainment software for the platform will decline. And that does sadden me, because of the rise of closed platforms over open ones. But the games will go on, in some form.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The traditional problems of graphics and computing power are moving towards a solved state or at least a more stable equilibrium. There are very few programs outside of games that use a ton of computing power, and I believe that relatively few people use them for recreation. I don’t think that implies stagnation at all, on the contrary I think that means that new problems are being solved and new problems are being created to be solved later.

    • cassus says:

      Although I think there may be some reason for concern about pc gaming, at least as far as simplistic crappy games go, the doomsday scenario is far from being a reality just yet. The PC is in a renaissance right now as well, and I suspect it’s partly due to the consoles we have at the moment are aging relics of the past, not able to do anything but crank out sequels to games.

      As for casual gaming, that’s not going to take a bite out of our games. There’s no reason to believe it will. Just look at television, most people say “oh it’s all gone to shit, nothing but reality TV everywhere.” Which is somewhat true, there’s an unbelievable amount of reality TV right now, but there is more TV as a whole, I follow more TV shows right now than ever before, none of them reality shows (Although I do love Ace of Cakes…) The TV is packed with adult TV shows like Homeland, Weeds, House of Lies etc. Shows that have a ridiculously high standard. Shows that make even 90s shows seem dumb. (Except X-Files and Stargate..)

      About three or four years ago there was a ridiculous drought in the PC games market. I remember picking up old classics constantly to fill my time. It was just a sad tale all around. I’m still not fully sure why the drought came, but I blamed consoles at the time. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, the fact remains, we are literally taking a bath in good games right now, of ALL different genres. Hell, Roguelikes are back.. Who would have expected that? And we’ve had the two best flight sims ever made released in the past few years. Black Shark and A-10 Warthog. Even Rise of Flight and IL-2 Cliffs of Dover are great sims. Same with racing sims, iRacing is brilliant. People who like what the consoles can’t offer aren’t disappointed right now unless they WANT to feel disappointed. Granted, the RPG’s are suffering, with the Mass Effect and DA2′s, but then there’s Fallout and Skyrim. Skyrim being, in my mind, one of the best games ever made.

      As for hardware, I just built a new PC. i7 2700K with a 7970, and it’s absolutely ridiculous how fast it is. And that’s not even close to what’s supposedly right around the corner with these 22micron chips. Not to mention the 7990.

      I see good times ahead for both PC’s and tablets and the like, maybe even for consoles, if they get their shit together. If the next consoles still rely on disks… Then they are kinda boned, and we’ll see more of the young guys who started their gaming on consoles move over into the Steam era.

      I’ve given this topic a lot of thought up through the years, and this is my conclusion. I may be completely wrong, though, but the whole PC Renaissance points towards good times. I’ll keep optimistic for now :)

      Sorry about the wall of text.

  3. Neurotic says:

    How do any of these chips mentioned here compare to my stalwart 4-core Q6600? I ask because it was relatively new when I got it a few years back, and I’m only now thinking about a new mobo/proc.

    • Bremze says:

      I’d say wait for Haswell which should be out around next summer unless you need more horsepower now. The difference is quite large, but you won’t feel it unless you’re compiling large projects often or are getting bottlenecked in games so a SSD or a better GPU is usually a much better buy.

      • Shadowcat says:

        Haswell… so hot right now.

      • suibhne says:

        Just to clarify – that’s “next summer” as in “Summer 2013″. It’s definitely the one to wait for if you don’t need anything in the next 18 months, but if you do….

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      The Q6600 was relatively new 5 years ago :p these are rather a lot more powerful. Is it needed for gaming? Not really.

      An SSD or new GPU, or upgrade to 8gb RAM, is really the only worthwhile investments these days.

    • zokier says:

      A lot faster. Anandtech bench has some benchmarks (sadly no games for this pair).

    • neems says:

      To a certain extent it would depend on your GPU as well, but I found that quite a lot of games were being bottlenecked by my old q6600 (primarily multi-format titles / console ports), I assume due to the relatively low clock speed in comparison to the newer processors.

      For example, F1 2010 ran at approximately 30 fps with a q6600 and HD6870, but 70 to 80 fps with an i5 2500k. I have the latter overclocked, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary. I think you simply need to reach a certain performance level in order to put the load onto the GPU.

    • Ragnar says:

      The i5 processors are a lot faster. The real question is, what is your graphics card like, and do you want a new processor now (and the new mobo, memory that goes with it), or do you want to wait 12-18 months? If your graphics card is 3+ years old, you’re better off upgrading that instead.

    • Starky says:

      I moved from a Q6600 that I clocked at 3GHz to a 2500k @ 4.3GHz – and for gaming, the difference is “meh”. For the vast majority of games your GPU will be your limiting component.

      For everything else however – Photoshop, 3D rendering, CAD work, basically anything CPU heavy – the difference is amazing.

      Of course the move from 4GB of ram to 16 helps with that also for productivity applications.

  4. Hirmetrium says:

    Thanks for the update Jeremy, but I think I’ll stick with my 1st Gen i7 920 – at this point, upgrading seems like a lot of effort for bugger all in return. Still, I’ll keep this in mind if I decide to get a new mobo with USB 3.0 and SATA3 (might opt for the 3rd gen rather than the 2nd!).

    • Benny says:

      I’m in the same boat with the 1st gen i7. There are some LGA 1366 boards with USB3+SATA3 so you can prolong it’s life a bit more (they’re quite reasonable prices as well)

    • Ragnar says:

      I wouldn’t bother upgrading from an existing i7 either. I’m currently on a C2D E6400 (OCed to 2.93GHz) so I’m strongly considering upgrading, but even I’m hesitant.

  5. Bremze says:

    No point in getting the 3550k if you can get the 2500k for cheaper, which is even more true if you’re overclocking but I guess these posts aren’t aimed at people overclocking.

  6. The Malkavian Bear says:

    Well that was disappointing. Looks like I’m waiting for Haswell.

  7. TormDK says:

    It’s a “Tick+” as Intel calls it.

    So expecting huge performance increases is not reasonable. Thats for Haswel to deliver next year.

    I’m upgrading from a QX9650 though, to an ivybridge cpu – so I’m looking forward to that (Building an entirely new rig, will be ready in two days :)).

    But yeah, if you’re on sandy now there’s little if any reason to upgrade.

  8. kael13 says:

    Can anyone give any estimates or info for Haswell? I don’t think I’m trading in my i7 960 just yet.

  9. Smaug says:

    Goddamn they are now making cpu’s for wimps who go nice and slow with their tiny, less power consuming, non overheating gadgets.

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      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I can fry an egg on my tower! In fact, I am frying one right now. That’s how I know it’s switched on, because my PC is whisper quiet. It’s whisper quiet because it blasts all that heat and noise through an asbestos soundproof tube. Who knows where it goes? I don’t know. I don’t care, either. I pay people to care, so I don’t have to.

      We’re done here, cut my check.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        I lol’d,

        Award yourself some internet points for this post courtesy of me =)

      • TechnicalBen says:

        That’s nothing. I have an entire Suckling Pig spit roast cooking in mine. Along with the deep fat fryer (via oil submersion of the components) the whole thing runs as small take away during it’s “idle” periods. When it’s up to speed or I feel like overclocking it I use the excess heat to run a fusion power testing facility…

      • InternetBatman says:

        I actually had a friend who did an ill-advised hotplate casemod for his computer. He cooked eggs on it until the practical problems of a heating element in a computer became too much work for him.

  10. Gilead says:

    Bit of an odd article. “It’s just as I predicted”? Ivy Bridge follows Intel’s roadmap precisely, which is available for everybody to look at, of course it’s just as you predicted. Nobody following Ivy Bridge expected substantial advances in processor power. It’s not like you needed to divine the future using chicken entrails to tease out mystical strands of rumour and fate, pretty much all the relevant information has been out there for ages.

    Intel always said that Ivy Bridge on the processor side would be a tick rather than a tock, the only real step forward in power being to the on-board graphics. Which for a lot of people isn’t nothing, incidentally. I’ve had to game on a laptop with an Intel 3000HD until I can get a decent gaming PC, and while I’m only running at 1366×768 resolution, I have been able to play Portal 2, Skyrim, Human Revolution, Civ 5, Magicka, Legend of Grimrock, and so on, well enough.

    Yes, I’d like a PC with a dedicated card and I’m not saying I’m getting blistering framerates, but the 3000HD is surprisingly capable at lower resolutions. A substantial improvement to the basic graphical capability of the sort of laptop most people will end up buying can only be a good thing.

    • Starky says:

      Seconded it’s just plain silly to be disapointed by something everyone expected.
      Everyone knew this was going to be the case YEARS ago – Intel have been doing this since the first dual core pentium.
      Every year or so they do a revision, in a cycle. Their Tick-Tock cycle.

      Every Tick is an update manufacturing process – a shrinking of the die.
      Every Tock is a revision on the design, a new chip architecture.

      Sandy bridge was a tock, Ivy a tick – no one was expecting massive performance updates – everyone was expecting a small increase in speed simply due to more heat headroom available due to the 22nm shrink.

      So you’d be able to squeeze out a few more MHz from the chips, but the performance per clock would remain exactly the same.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        I’d argue you’re quite wrong about that on multiple grounds. First of all, Intel was pitching IVB as Tick+, not just Tick. It has also chosen to anoint IVB as the “third generation Core architecture”. And generally waxed lyrical regards the 22nm process and 3D transistors.

        As it turns out, the new chips clock no higher than the old.

        And while nobody was expecting massive performance increases in per-clock or per-core performance, the actual uptick is tiny even by Tick standards.

        Moreover, in the past Intel has used a new process to deliver more cores, which it hasn’t done this time. In fact, on the CPU side, Intel has delivered almost nothing of interest to desktop users. This isn’t a server chip, so the power savings are borderline irrelevant.

        Whether you like it or not, on the CPU side IVB is the most incremental, inconsequential launch Intel has delivered since the Prescott Pentium 4.

        • Starky says:

          Maybe I’ve been missing all that hype, but I generally follow most tech news, and the only hype I’ve really seen from Intel is the graphics aspect of the chip, and only moderate hype for the 3D transistors – I’ve not read of them making any bold performance claims – just a lot of journalists speculating wildly and inaccurately from some of the tech news outlets. Which isn’t bad, it is what tech journalists are supposed to do really.

          Also the reason they’ve not added more cores is once again an architecture limitation – Sandybridge architecture could only ever scale to 8 cores (16 threads) so there was never going to be a chip with more cores from a Tick.
          I don’t think anyone was really expecting a new 10/12 core chip from Ivy.

          Then again I generally don’t read from Intels marketing to press department – but from their engineering and industry papers – where they’ve been fairly conservative and realistic.

          I’d agree Ivy-bridge is a minor update – and Intel knew it would be – which is why they kept the same socket, motherboard support and price structure, chip for chip replacements are priced the same as the old ones, so no one is paying more for less.

          I don’t see the issue.

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            For starters, Intel is calling it not only a Tick-plus but also the Third Generation Core architecture. The first and second gen were both Tocks – ie new architectures. Nobody is forcing Intel to use these kinds of marketing terms which set expectations high. They could have just called it a regular tick, as they did for Westmere. Again, that is Intel’s choice.

            Secondly, there is no architectural reason why we couldn’t have six or eight-core models of this chip on LGA1155.

            As for keeping the same socket because it’s not a big update, I’m afraid that’s nonsense, too. To take bu one example of many, Intel went from Pentium 4 Netburst to Merom-class Core 2 Duo and kept the LGA775 socket.

            It is a small mercy that they stuck with LGA1155. But given that it’s only been around for a short while and was itself a thoroughly infuriating change from LGA1156, I’m not that keen to give Intel too much credit.

            The bottom line with Ivy Bridge is that it’s only as good as it needs to be. If AMD was providing stiffer competition, it would be a much more powerful chip. If you’re happy with Intel sand bagging and charging you more money for less performance than it could easily provide, then that’s just fine.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Monchberter says:

    My geriatric Quad Core Q6600 still runs everything I throw at it fine, thank you very much.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Aye, mine has yet to struggle with any game I’ve thrown at it.

      And the ten-year-old Athlon XP 2100 is still absolutely fine with web browsing and arty malarky. New hardware is boring; we don’t need it; it’s not what’s holding anything back.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Surlywombat says:

    You made me lookup stultifying to make sure it meant what I thought it mean. I now feel good because it did. Thank you.

  13. bill says:

    But it’s in 3D!!!

    I thought these were supposed to run much less hot and use a lot less power? Since my laptops tend to be able to fry eggs in summer, before spontaneously combusting, I was rather looking forward to these.

    Not that I’d probably be able to upgrade the CPU in my laptop anyway…. and it’s already more limited by GPU than CPU.

    Less toasty would be good though.

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      These are not mobile chips, the mobile line is quite different.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        Actually, the main explanation for the ways these chips turned out is because they very much are mobile chips tweaked and repackaged for the desktop. Intel doesn’t really do desktop PC processors any longer. It does mobile CPUs which it uses for the mainstream desktop series (currently on LGA1155) and for high end desktop, it rebrands server chips for the LGA2011 socket.

  14. creiij says:

    Man, I bought a new computer (in parts and built it) just a month ago… Hope my i7 lasts a while because if I tell my wife I need a new CPU she will kill me. Yes, she will.

    • wodin says:

      creiij, read the article, this new chip is pretty rubbish. So don’t worry about it.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        It’s not “rubbish” it’s just a revision. Same type of performance, but a new design. Intel tend to get the chip working, sell a few, then crank up the power later. So it’s really just “the same” as a current i7, but with the hope of newer models getting faster. Where as the current i7s might be at their max speeds already.

  15. wodin says:

    I’ not saying it will ever be totally dead as I’m sure there will be someone somewhere developing games on the format, what i am saying is it’s going to be very diluted, and the choose will slowly disappear as most new developers concentrate on the quick money and thats tablets and mobiles.

  16. ukpanik says:

    What would be a good cpu recommendation for 3D work (zbrush) & gaming?

    • Lekker Pain says:

      i7 3930K

      • ukpanik says:

        Thanks

        • Starky says:

          The 3930 is Overkill and not worth the money – get the 2500k, or 2600k
          The hyper threading in the 2600k does add a small boost in some applications – but can lower performance in some games or apps that only support 2-4 threads. So it is up to you where you would like the advantage, games or apps.

          Get a decent after market cooler (coolermaster 212 evo is cheap and will be all you need), and over-clock it to 4.2 GHz – maybe even 4.5 if you’re lucky with your chip – you can get all of them to 4.5 but tha might require messing with the voltage – a 4.2 you’ll get just by upping the multiplier and nothing else.

          Get 16GB of ddr3 ram to go with it (it’s cheap so why not).

          The i7 is simply NOT worth the premium cost for such a marginal improvement in gaming – and for zbrush you don’t need it – it would only make a difference if you were doing a lot of batch ray-tracing.

  17. psyk says:

    Ahhhh pc upgrading

    “don’t worry the good stuff is out next, just wait and see”

    FUCK THAT, if we all did that no components would ever get brought.

    • Delusibeta says:

      To be honest, if the new wave results in the discounting of the old wave, then will be a good time to jump onto the 2500k bandwagon.

  18. RegisteredUser says:

    I’m still waiting on drastic energy/power advances.

    I don’t want to mount a glacier to my CPU like some people do just to get < 50C on load on my Quadcore.

  19. Brun says:

    I’ll be sticking with my overclocked first-gen i7 (3.75 GHz). I have a 1000 watt PSU, I’m not particularly worried about energy usage, and I don’t see any other features of the Ivy Bridge processors that are compelling enough to make me want to upgrade.

    I have to say that my gaming PC has aged remarkably well (first-gen i7 at 3.75 GHz, GTX 480, 6 GB RAM) for a machine bought in 2010.

  20. mxxcon says:

    If anybody is shopping for a new system, I recently found out about pcpartpicker.com. It is pretty useful(at least to me). Allows you to pick and keep track of each component, its reviews and prices. Or if you don’t want he hassle of deciding on your own, you can buy pre-built system configs.

  21. Baresark says:

    I just got a MicroCenter email witht hem offering up the new processors in very attractively based bundles with a Z77 motherboard. This is viable for me since I’m only running an i5 750. I’m considering it since this is the new go to processor. I performs marginally better than the Sandy Bridge and the price point isn’t that far off. So, this is a pretty good offering.

    On the other hand, that means the price of Sandy Bridge is probably gonna come down sometime soon. Meh, choices choices.

  22. Radiant says:

    Don’t suppose you’d drop a guide on power supplies?
    I have no idea how much power is needed or what I should be aiming to spend for a good one.

    • Daedalus207 says:

      My view tends to be that a good power supply is worth spending extra on, but generally the super high wattage units aren’t needed. My current desktop is running on a SeaSonic X650, which has plenty of oomph for my Q9550 / GTX560 machine running full bore (Prime95 and FurMark running simultaneously). I’ve been very happy with the SeaSonic power supplies, in fact I currently have them in two of my three computers, and the third machine has an old PC Power and Cooling PS that was actually manufactured by SeaSonic. The SeaSonics are astonishingly heavy compared to the generic Antecs (which are actually quite decent) that I used to prefer.

      But yes, I’d also be interested in an article on power supplies.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      My bits of advice on PSUs:

      1. A bad PSU can take out other components in your system when it goes bad. The PSU is the one thing you should never skimp on.

      2. PSUs that come with cases are generally crap. Buy a barebones case (which also tends to mean higher-end case) and put your own PSU in.

      3. Avoid fancy-shmancy cooling schemes. I used a Zalman heat-pipe cooled power supply (with 120mm fan that kicks in as needed) for its low noise characteristics. Fried itself after about a year. I’ve heard this is not uncommon; the PSU is something that really ought to stay cool despite other considerations.

      4. Modular power supplies are really nice from a cable management standpoint, but modular plugs introduce more resistance and are an additional point of failure. If you’ve got enough space in your case to keep those wires out of the way, go for a regular one.

      5. I forget the exact numbers, but I seem to recall PSUs are generally most efficient when loaded to about 40% to 75% of their designed wattage. So overdo it if you can, but don’t vastly overdo it.

      6. Maximum load goes down as the PSU gets hotter. A lot of PSU manufacturers give their rated wattage at unrealistically low temperatures, like 20ºC. Actual performance will be lower. Keep that in mind.

      With all that in mind, and having looked at a lot of options, I’ve settled on “PC Power & Cooling” PSUs, specifically the Silencer series. A nice mix of quiet operation, high wattage and efficiency, and good reliability. They quote their PSU ratings at high temperature. Every PSU is individually tested and QC approved. They’ve been at this a very long time, and were the first to introduce a lot of PSU innovations. They achieve their quiet operation via smart internal design (specifically airflow) rather than fancy tech or slower fans. Really, the star of the power supply industry, IMO.

  23. MythArcana says:

    Intel, the king of awesomeness. Now if we could just get some complex games that actually use this unharnessed power…

  24. Shooop says:

    Future-proofers should look to getting a LGA 2011 chipset, as we’re going to be seeing LGA 1155 vanishing and LGA 2011 will be taking its place.

    That said, don’t bother with an Ivy Bridge if you’ve already got a Sandy one. Any performance boost is minimal. It’s not surprising as Intel works on a Tick-Tock cycle, but disappointing as this particular one offers no real advantage to the previous build where previous ticks offered at least some minor gain over their predecessors.