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Old January 17th, 2010, 08:29 PM   #1
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Computer upgrade time

I'm thinking of upgrading to either an Intel Core i7 920, or Core i7 860.

According to benchmarks, they're about the same speed. There's only two differences I can tell; one is the platform, LGA 1156 (860) or LGA 1366 (920); and the second is dual channel memory (860) vs. triple channel memory (920).

The 860 ends up being cheaper when figuring in motherboard, memory, and processor. I don't think the Intel i5 750 is an option -- I'm not one for overclocking. System stability is paramount for me.

Is there any compelling reason to go with the 920? What are your thoughts on this?

My only concern is if Intel plans to support two platforms from here on out. I mean... if I intend to upgrade in two years, will I be able to on the 1156 platform?
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Old January 18th, 2010, 12:00 AM   #2
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one thing to rarely worry about is that the motherboard you bought today will work tomorrow, it wont :-) unless you bought DOWN in the chip with an obvious processor upgrade path in existance that day.
Out of any motherboard i get 1 update of the processor and/or video or something, and the Differeces arent squat. then the motherboard itself is obsolete for further updating.

for video work the processor is a lot of it, but for computer upgrade paths the busses, the memory the hard drive connectability, even the power supply connectibility becomes an issue WHEN you really want to 2TIMES speedup your computer.
without a new motherboard, the most overall speedup i have ever gotten was some worthless 10-20 percent (overall speed).

Every time i purchaced the most upgradable most diverse most open ended motherboard at very high prices, and the next real advancement came from Tossing it all in the trash again. They even tried to come out with Processor socket adapters to provide an update path, and that didnt work well either.

remember video cards? PCI AGP PCI-E , Chipsets 35 - 66 - 100 -133 - 400 , hard drives 33 66 100 2g 3g , then count the number of "Sockets" that has come out in the last 20 years, and do it without using your Toes :-)
i am not saying its a conspiracy, and that they manage to upsell a rack of $300 motherboards with ever $300 processor, but they dont seem to fit things in the same package very often when the technology itself changes 180*
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Old January 18th, 2010, 02:24 AM   #3
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12GB of ram is fairly cheap on the 1366 whereas the 1156 can only do 8GB for a low cost. 1366 can support a max of 24GB and 1156 is 16GB but 4GB sticks of ram are still $200+ each.

Also, Intel will only be releasing their 6 core 12 thread i7/i9 for the 1366 due out this summer. 1366 is Intel's performance chip and 1156 is their mainstream chip.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #4
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12GB of ram is fairly cheap on the 1366 whereas the 1156 can only do 8GB for a low cost. 1366 can support a max of 24GB and 1156 is 16GB but 4GB sticks of ram are still $200+ each.

Also, Intel will only be releasing their 6 core 12 thread i7/i9 for the 1366 due out this summer. 1366 is Intel's performance chip and 1156 is their mainstream chip.
This is not quite the case right now. Memory prices, in fact, have actually increased for all sizes. As such, even 3GB of memory (via three 1GB modules) is now more expensive than it was just a couple of months ago.

And for all of the triple-channel hype, the 1366 actually performs slower than the 1156 per CPU clock cycle (or put it this way, the 1366 is less efficient than the 1156) with the same number of cores. This is because although the memory controller in both the 1366 and the 1156 processors are on-die, the 1366 still has to rely on external buses for everything else while the 1156 puts some of the features that were previously handled through external buses on the CPU die. I am suspecting that Intel has been artificially limiting the current maximum clock speed of the 1156 as to not take sales away from its top-end 1366 processors. What's more, the 1366 still officially supports only DDR3-1066 maximum while the 1156 officially supports DDR3-1333. And current JEDEC standards for DDR3 memory allow only one memory module per memory controller channel at the controller's maximum officially supported speed. This means that installing 12GB of memory using 2GB modules on a 1366 motherboard might force the memory to operate at a slower DDR3-800 or even DDR3-667 (if your DDR3 motherboard's memory speed could even be set that low) - one to two speed grades lower than the maximum supported by the memory and memory controller combination. One might not currently notice much of a difference even at that since few applications are especially sensitive to deficiencies in memory performance.

And even with the $200+ price for 4GB DDR3 memory modules, the 1366 rig still costs more money on average than a 1156 rig of the same performance level. This is because on the whole motherboards for the 1366 remain significantly more expensive than their 1156 counterparts right now - largely because the only chipset that's currently available for 1366 motherboards is the expensive-to-manufacture X58 while the 1156 can use any of the less expensive P55 series chipsets. (And yes, the relative prices are for an entire system, with a CPU, motherboard, memory, hard drive, video card, etc.)
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Old January 24th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #5
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Randall,

There's no problems getting DDR3 to behave at or above spec on a 1366 system. I have 12GB running @ 1600mhz and my 920 CPU running at 4.2ghz.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 12:05 PM   #6
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Probably with better-than-average cooling.

After all, I have had trouble getting anything stable at anything above stock speed lately due to heat issues, especially in summer.

And I still stand by my finding about the relative cost of a 1366 system versus a 1156 system, especially in the cost of the motherboards for such systems. And the memory speeds are merely based on the officially supported specs, not the "maximum stable speeds" that many users have gotten.

In any event, I would have picked either one if I were building a new system today. But neither system would provide sufficiently improved performance that's worth the cost of its core components (primarily the CPU, motherboard and memory) if I already have a Core2 Quad system (I have a Q9450 with 4GB of DDR2-800 memory myself). And right now DDR3 system memory (required by all i7 and i5 systems regardless of CPU socket type) still costs nearly double that of DDR2 system memory per GB. An upgrade to Socket 1366 would have cost me a minimum of about $600 with only 6GB of memory - and that's more than high enough even with an i7-920 that I would have needed a motherboard that's an especially good overclocker in order to be worth anywhere near the cost. Many of the 1366 motherboards are mediocre to poor in overclocking (a poor overclocker crashes or locks up at clock speeds slower than what most other motherboards have no trouble reaching), so I would have had to select the right mobo. (Intel would also not be my first choice in an enthusiast motherboard since that brand has limited or no overclocking capabilities. After all, if I can get a given i7 CPU to run stably on an Intel Extreme Series mobo at the maximum selectable clock speed, only to find that the motherboard's highest available CPU speed settings are limited compared to the maximum reliable speeds attainable from some other brands of motherboards, then it's not worth it getting that Intel-branded motherboard in the first place especially since that mobo is on the expensive side for the features and performance it offers.)

Last edited by Randall Leong; January 24th, 2010 at 12:44 PM.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #7
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I have to disagree with the theory that it's not worth going from a Core2 Quad to i7. I just did that and get HUGE improvements, especially when overclocked. And my stuff is crammed into a 4U rackmount case, though I upgraded to a Noctua CPU cooler. Well worth the money.

If you have Premiere CS4, try running the PPBM4 benchmark and see what you can come up with. If you look at the benchmark results, mine is the "Wild Fly" machine that has the second highest score, and that's with minimal tweeking, not hours of messing with overclocking settings.

PPBM4 home page
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Old January 24th, 2010, 06:51 PM   #8
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The problem is that I simply don't have anywhere near $600 to spend on such an upgrade all at one time. In fact, I don't have even $100 right now. Plus the fact that I have recently upgraded operating systems resulted in me having to wait a few months longer before spending a single cent for upgrades.

And no, I don't have Premiere CS4. This suite costs another $800 on top of any hardware upgrades. It could be years before I could earn the $1400 needed even if I work for it (the job market is virtually nonexistent right now in my area except for high-level positions which require extensive education and experience). And every month that I wait for this upgrade makes me fall that much farther behind.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #9
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So your reservations about upgrading are more a matter of money and less a matter of you thinking that an i7 upgrade is inconsequential when one has a Core2Quad? I can understand the former, not the latter. The i7 upgrade is a BIG upgrade performance-wise.

To the original poster, Devin, I would definitely suggest going with the 1366 platform. It offers more for a very small amount more money, especially considering the new i9 processors will run on 1366 and not 1156. If you need more info, check out some of the posts that Harm Millaard has made. He knows a LOT about hardware, and researching via his input has gotten me to where I have a dynamite editing system.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #10
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In my particular situation, it's much more a matter of money. Also, I was speaking of everyday office/Web/e-mail apps which do not take anywhere near full advantage of even a Pentium II processor, let alone current processors. For video editing apps, then yes, the i7 and i5 do provide quite a significant improvement over the older Core2 series processors. I was only trying to say in my earlier post about this, that if I were going to spend that much money on such an upgrade I might as well spend more for an even higher-end processor than the 920, especially if I end up getting a motherboard which turns out to be relatively unstable compared to most other motherboards when the processor is overclocked (and yes, I would only consider such a motherboard if its price is remarkably low compared to the other motherboards for that particular socket out there). IMHO the bottom of the high-end processor line is not worth the price if it is priced nearly as high as the next speed grade higher (for the entire processor/motherboard/memory combo, not just for the CPU).
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Old January 25th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #11
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In the case of the 920, it's the best bang for the buck. It is stock 2.66ghz, mine is OC'd to 4.2ghz on a middle of the road motherboard. If you go with the i7 920 on an Asus P6T motherboard, the cost is well below what you would spend going to a 940 or higher and getting a cheaper board. I am not a fan of skimping on the motherboard either. If the board won't OC well, that means it's most likely built with crappy components. In this day of online retailers and online reviews, it's pretty easy to discern what is good and what is not.

As far as everyday office/web/email performance, you won't find that people on DVinfo.net are asking for recommendations for machines that are designed for that. This site is for people that edit video, and they want video editing systems.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randall Leong View Post
...current JEDEC standards for DDR3 memory allow only one memory module per memory controller channel at the controller's maximum officially supported speed. This means that installing 12GB of memory using 2GB modules on a 1366 motherboard might force the memory to operate at a slower DDR3-800 or even DDR3-667 (if your DDR3 motherboard's memory speed could even be set that low) - one to two speed grades lower than the maximum supported by the memory and memory controller combination. One might not currently notice much of a difference even at that since few applications are especially sensitive to deficiencies in memory performance.
I've double-checked the official JEDEC standards for DDR3 memory and memory controllers again, and I was mostly incorrect with that statement. It seemed as though I carried over the maximum number of memory banks per channel from the official JEDEC standards for the highest official JEDEC speed grade for DDR2 memory: JEDEC only allowed two banks of memory per channel at DDR2-800 speed (one double-sided module or two single-sided modules). The official DDR3 specs now allow four banks of memory (two double-sided modules) per channel at up to DDR3-1333 speed. The maximum current JEDEC-standard DDR3 memory speed grade is DDR3-1600, which the official specs allow only two banks (one double-sided module) per channel at this speed. If for some reason you have installed two DDR3-1600 modules per channel in a system with a fully JEDEC-compliant DDR3-1600 memory controller, the official JEDEC standard dictates that the memory controller speed be automatically downclocked to DDR3-1333 speed. (For the record, none of Intel's current consumer CPUs officially support memory speeds higher than DDR3-1333 - and the official DDR3-1333 memory speed support on Intel's consumer CPUs (as opposed to Intel's motherboard-based memory controllers such as the ones used in the X38 and X48 chipsets for Core2 systems) is currently limited to the "mainstream" Socket 1156 platform.)

Thus, at the official Intel Socket 1366 maximum of DDR3-1066, up to six double-sided memory modules can be operated at that speed. Some Socket 1366 motherboards have as many as nine DIMM slots - but what good is having all those slots when for all practical purposes you can use only six of them at a time at full memory speed?
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Old January 26th, 2010, 11:03 AM   #13
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"for all practical purposes"

Are you bent on confusing people? FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES you can populate all slots at the full speed the memory supports as long as your motherboard supports it. Keep in mind that sometimes this means going in and manually configuring the memory settings in the BIOS, but it is a completely normal process.

Again, I'm running 12GB (six slots filled) of DDR3 1600 on my socket 1366, and it's running AT 1600mhz. You aren't limited to 1066mhz.

I'm starting to get the feeling that you have no "practical" experience with the i7 platform and are formulating your opinions based on your understanding of previous generations of hardware and a misguided understanding of a few older spec sheets you've read.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 12:52 PM   #14
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That's because most Socket 1366 motherboards have only six memory slots total.

And as for my post above, I was only stating the official JEDEC standards and not individual motherboards' communication between the motherboard BIOS and the CPU's memory controller. (And indeed, Intel's reference X58 motherboard, a laboratory-only motherboard which differs greatly from the same company's Extreme Series motherboard using the same chipset that's sold at reseller level, does strictly follow official Intel and JEDEC specs.) Individual users may have better luck with higher memory speeds than what JEDEC officially supports.

In other words, I am stating (but did not previously) that YMMV. And if I had a 1156 or 1366 CPU which did not work reliably when the memory speed is overclocked beyond Intel's and JEDEC's officially supported specs, either I have a relatively bum CPU memory controller or a relatively bum motherboard which barely achieves minimum performance and reliability standards for that CPU type.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #15
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As a general rule go for the less expensive system and use the money you save for your next system. In all my years of owning a PC, I have never upgraded the cpu on an existing motherboard. People including myself get bogged down in the little details, in 3+ years from now, no one will care whether you have a i720 or i860, because there will be a whole new cpu with a different socket that blows both of them away.
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