Introduction and Test Hardware
The PC gaming world has become divided by two distinct types of games: those that were designed and programmed specifically for the PC, and console ports. Unfortunately for PC gamers it seems that far too many titles are simply ported over (or at least optimized for consoles first) these days, and while PC users can usually enjoy higher detail levels and unlocked frame rates there is now the issue of processor core-count to consider. This may seem artificial, but in recent months quite a few games have been released that require at least a quad-core CPU to even run (without modifying the game).
One possible explanation for this is current console hardware: PS4 and Xbox One systems are based on multi-core AMD APUs (the 8-core AMD "Jaguar"). While a quad-core (or higher) processor might not be techincally required to run current games on PCs, the fact that these exist on consoles might help to explain quad-core CPU as a minimum spec. This trend could simply be the result of current x86 console hardware, as developement of console versions of games is often prioritized (and porting has become common for development of PC versions of games). So it is that popular dual-core processors like the $69 Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition (G3258) are suddenly less viable for a future-proofed gaming build. While hacking these games might make dual-core CPUs work, and might be the only way to get such a game to even load as the CPU is checked at launch, this is obviously far from ideal.
Is this much CPU really necessary?
Rather than rail against this quad-core trend and question its necessity, I decided instead to see just how much of a difference the processor alone might make with some game benchmarks. This quickly escalated into more and more system configurations as I accumulated parts, eventually arriving at 36 different configurations at various price points. Yeah, I said 36. (Remember that Budget Gaming Shootout article from last year? It's bigger than that!) Some of the charts that follow are really long (you've been warned), and there’s a lot of information to parse here. I wanted this to be as fair as possible, so there is a theme to the component selection. I started with three processors each (low, mid, and high price) from AMD and Intel, and then three graphics cards (again, low, mid, and high price) from AMD and NVIDIA.
Here’s the component rundown with current pricing*:
- AMD Athlon X4 860K - $74.99
- AMD FX 8350 - $165.93
- AMD FX 9590 (with AIO cooler) - $259.99
- Intel Core i3-4130 - $118
- Intel Core i5-4440 - $184.29
- Intel Core i7-4790K - $338.99
Graphics cards tested:
- AMD Radeon R7 260X (ASUS 2GB OC) - $137.24
- AMD Radeon R9 280 (Sapphire Dual-X) - $169.99
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (MSI Lightning) - $399
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (OEM) - $149.99
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 (OEM) - $235
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (ASUS STRIX) - $519
*These prices were current as of 6/29/15, and of course fluctuate.
Subject: Motherboards | May 4, 2015 - 02:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: processor, msi, motherboard, Godavari, FM2+, cpu, APU, amd
MSI has revealed a new FM2+ motherboard lineup with support for upcoming AMD Godavari processors, further indicating the launch of these new CPUs will be very soon though no official announcement has yet been made by AMD.
As reported back in January when the lineup allegedly leaked the new Godavari SKUs feature higher clocks on both processor and, more significantly, in GPU cores in upcoming APUs like the rumored 8850K. MSI states that "these new models are available in ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ATX form factors and are backwards compatible with FM2 processors (Kaveri, Richland, Trinity, 6000 and 5000 series)", so it makes sense to consider these new models for future compatibility if shopping for an FM2 motherboard today. It remains to be seen if vendors will offer support for Godavari through BIOS updates, though it does at least seem likely.
For those interested here is the list of new MSI AMD FM2+/FM2 motherboard models:
- A68HM-E33 V2
- A88XM-E45 V2
- A78M-E35 V2
- A88XM-P33 V2
- A78M-E45 V2
- A88X-G41 PC Mate V2
- A88XM-E35 V2
- A88XI AC V2
The familiar Military Class 4 and OC Genie 4 branding is visible across the lineup, and the new models also feature "a rich blend of features and technologies, such as onboard LAN, PCI Express 3.0 x16, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 and multiple display support".
Subject: Motherboards | April 30, 2015 - 10:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel, Broadwell, h97, z97, bios, cpu, processor
GIGABYTE has announced support for the upcoming LGA 1150 variants of Intel's 5th-generation Core (Broadwell) processors for all existing 9-series motherboards via BIOS update.
The full press release appears below:
City of Industry, California, April 30th, 2015 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire line-up of Z97 and H97 motherboards now support the soon-to-launch 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors.
GIGABYTE engineers have tested and validated all GIGABYTE 9 series motherboards including Z97 and H97 chipset-based motherboards to ensure optimal performance for 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. Users wanting to take advantage of all the features of 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processors have to offer at launch, simply need to download the latest UEFI BIOS from the GIGABYTE website.
To get the latest UEFI BIOS for your motherboard, please visit the GIGABYTE website: http://www.gigabyte.us
Subject: Processors | January 29, 2015 - 10:41 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumor, processors, Kaveri, Godavari, cpu, Athlon X4, APU, amd
VR-Zone has published a report with a detailed slide showing upcoming AMD Godavari processors, and the updated lineup includes 12 new models.
The release schedule indicates a spring availability for most of the new APUs, with the Athlon X4 850 and 870K shipping in May. The APU line gets a new flagship desktop part with the A10-8850K, and this appears to be a higher-clocked version of the A10-7850K, with a 100MHz higher boost clock (4.1 GHz vs. 4.0 GHz) and a higher GPU clock of 856 MHz (vs. 720 MHz).
Of particular interest for the potential budget quad-core buyer is the Athlon X4 870K, a new 95W part which would presumably replace the X4 860K - a processor that has seen inconsistent availability (and is currently unavailable on Newegg). With more games being released that require a quad-core to run, these sub-$100 Athlon CPUs present a great value in constructing a low-cost gaming system these days.
The slide does not indicate a change in the 28nm process from Kaveri, and it should be safe to assume these will not represent a significant architectural change. The modest clock increases from Kaveri will result in some performance gains, and this is good for consumers assuming these will sell at the same price points as the outgoing models.
Subject: Processors | January 18, 2015 - 05:16 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, rumor, processor, leak, iris pro, Intel, graphics, cpu, carrizo, APU, amd
A new report of leaked benchmarks paints a very interesting picture of the upcoming AMD Carrizo mobile APU.
Image credit: SiSoftware
Announced as strictly mobile parts, Carrizo is based on the next generation Excavator core and features what AMD is calling one of their biggest ever jumps in efficiency. Now alleged leaked benchmarks are showing significant performance gains as well, with numbers that should elevate the IGP dominance of AMD's APUs.
Image credit: WCCFtech
"The A10 7850K scores around 270 Mpix/s while Intel’s HD5200 Iris Pro scores a more modest 200 Mpix/s. Carriso scores here over 600 Mpix/s which suggests that Carrizo is more than twice as fast as Kaveri and three times faster than Iris Pro. To put this into perspective this is what an R7 265 graphics card scores, a card that offers the same graphics performance inside the Playstation 4."
While the idea of desktop APUs with greatly improved graphics and higher efficency is tantalizing, AMD has made it clear that these will be mobile-only parts at launch. When asked by Anandtech, AMD had this to say about the possibility of a desktop variant:
“With regards to your specific question, we expect Carrizo will be seen in BGA form factor desktops designs from our OEM partners. The Carrizo project was focused on thermally constrained form factors, which is where you'll see the big differences in performance and other experiences that consumers value.”
The new mobile APU will be manufactured with the same 28nm process as Kaveri, with power consumption up to 35W for the Carrizo down to a maximum of 15W for the ultra-mobile Carrizo-L parts.
Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2015 - 12:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: history, cpu, errata, dan luu
A question was asked of Dan Luu about what new tricks silicon has learned since the early days of the eighties. The answer covers a gamut of what tools those who work on low level code such as drivers and UEFI/BIOS now have at their disposal. It is far more than just the fact that we have grown from 8 bit to 64 bit or the frequencies possible now that were undreamed of before but delves into the newer features such as out of order instructions and single instruction, multiple data instructions. If you are not familiar with how CPUs and GPGPUs operate at these low levels it is a great jumping off point for you to learn what the features are called and to get a rough idea of what tasks they perform. If you know your silicon through and through it is a nice look back at what has been added in the last 25 years and a reminder of what you had to work without back in the days when flashing a BIOS was a literal thing. You can also check the comments below the links at Slashdot as they are uncharacteristically on topic.
"An article by Dan Luu answers this question and provides a good overview of various cool tricks modern CPUs can perform. The slightly older presentation Compiler++ by Jim Radigan also gives some insight on how C++ translates to modern instruction sets."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CES 2015: Dell, Lenovo and HP showcase potential of Intel’s 5th-gen Core chips @ The Inquirer
- Insert 'Skeleton Key', unlock Microsoft Active Directory. Simples – hackers @ The Register
- Lego Avengers Assemble to the Helicarrier! @ Hack a Day
- TechwareLabs CES 2015 Event Coverage: Thermaltake
- Toshiba tosses out uber-slim THREE TERABYTE HDD @ The Register
- BlackBerry adopts the iPhone for promotional Twitter campaign @ The Inquirer
- The BenQ W1080ST+ & W1070+ Home Cinema Projector Launch Event @ TechARP
Since the introduction of the Haswell line of CPUs, the Internet has been aflame with how hot the CPUs run. Speculation ran rampant on the cause with theories abounding about the lesser surface area and inferior thermal interface material (TIM) in between the CPU die surface and the underside of the CPU heat spreader. It was later confirmed that Intel had changed the TIM interfacing the CPU die surface to the heat spreader with Haswell, leading to the hotter than expected CPU temperatures. This increase in temperature led to inconsistent core-to-core temperatures as well as vastly inferior overclockability of the Haswell K-series chips over previous generations.
A few of the more adventurous enthusiasts took it upon themselves to use inventive ways to address the heat concerns surrounding the Haswell by delidding the processor. The delidding procedure involves physically removing the heat spreader from the CPU, exposing the CPU die. Some individuals choose to clean the existing TIM from the core die and heat spreader underside, applying superior TIM such as metal or diamond-infused paste or even the Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra metal material and fixing the heat spreader back in place. Others choose a more radical solution, removing the heat spreader from the equation entirely for direct cooling of the naked CPU die. This type of cooling method requires use of a die support plate, such as the MSI Die Guard included with the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard.
Whichever outcome you choose, you must first remove the heat spreader from the CPU's PCB. The heat spreader itself is fixed in place with black RTV-type material ensuring a secure and air-tight seal, protecting the fragile die from outside contaminants and influences. Removal can be done in multiple ways with two of the most popular being the razor blade method and the vise method. With both methods, you are attempting to separate the CPU PCB from the heat spreader without damaging the CPU die or components on the top or bottom sides of the CPU PCB.
Subject: Processors | May 27, 2014 - 06:58 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99, rumors, octocore, lga2011, Intel, Haswell-E, cpu
As with any high-profile release there have been rumors circulating around Intel's upcoming high-end desktop processors for the X99 chipset, and a report today from Chinese site Coolaler claims to have the specs on these new Haswell-E CPU's.
Of particular interest are the core counts, which appear to have been increased compared to the current Ivy Bridge-E products. The lineup will reportedly include a 6-core i7-5820K, 6-core i7-5930K, and 8-core i7-5960X. Yep, not only are we looking at an octo-core desktop part but now even the "entry-level" Extreme part might have 6 cores.
Nothing wrong with more cores (and this will be especially attractive if we see the same MSRP's as Ivy Bridge-E) but there might be one caveat with the i7-5820K, as the reported specs show fewer PCIe lanes on this CPU with 28, compared to the 40 lanes found on the higher Haswell-E parts (and all current Ivy-Bridge-E parts).
Haswell-E would still provide more lanes than the current desktop i7 parts (an i7-4770K has only 16), but the disparity would create an interesting quandary for a potential adopter. Though x8 connections for multi-GPU setups is par for the course already on non-X79 desktop systems, the SATA Express and M.2 standards will put more of a premium on PCIe lane allocation for storage going forward.
Of course no official word from Intel on the matter yet, and only speculation on pricing. This is completely unsubstantiated, but is certainly of interest - particularly as hex-core i7's previously commanded the pricing of a more premium part in each prior iteration.
Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 08:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zero load, PSU, Intel, haswell, enermax, cpu, c6, c5
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Intel’s upcoming Haswell processors would feature new C6 and C7 sleep states that draw as little as 0.05A on the 12V rail. Such low power draw on the 12V rail may cause problems for existing power supplies, which are not accustomed to facilitating such low power draw (especially on the 12V line). In an attempt to clear up a bit of the confusion for its customers, Enermax has put together a list of its mid-range and high-end power supplies that meet the standards required to support the new low-power processor states.
According to the press release (seen below), the Enermax power supplies use so-called Zero Load technology that uses a DC to DC converter to support low wattage power draw. This technology has been in Enermax power supplies since the Revolution85+ series which was launched in 2008. The company claims that the power supplies deliver “rock solid voltages” down to 0W load, which is within the Intel specification of 0.05A for the CPU alone.
The list of compatible Enermax power supplies is as follows:
Enermax Platimax Series
- Platimax 500W (EPM500AWT)
- Platimax 600W (EPM600AWT)
- Platimax 750W (EPM750AWT)
- Platimax 850W (EPM850EWT)
- Platimax 1000W (EPM1000EWT)
- Platimax 1200W (EPM1200EWT)
- Platimax 1500W (EPM1500EGT)
Enermax Revolution87+ Series
- Revolution87+ 550W (ERV550AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 650W (ERV650AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 750W (ERV750AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 850W (ERV850EWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 1000W (ERV1000EWT-G)
Enermax MaxRevo Series
- MaxRevo 1200W (EMR1200EWT)
- MaxRevo 1350W (EMR1350EWT)
- MaxRevo 1500W (EMR1500EGT)
Enermax Triathlor Series
- Triathlor 385W (ETA385AWT)
- Triathlor 450W (ETA450AWT)
- Triathlor 550W (ETA550AWT)
Enermax Revolution85+ Series
- Revolution85+ 850W (ERV850EWT)
- Revolution85+ 920W (ERV920EWT)
- Revolution85+ 950W (ERV950EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1020W (ERV1020EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1050W (ERV1050EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1250W (ERV1250EGT)
Enermax Modu87+ Series
- Modu87+ 500W (EMG500AWT)
- Modu87+ 600W (EMG600AWT)
- Modu87+ 700W (EMG700AWT)
- Modu87+ 800W (EMG800EWT)
- Modu87+ 900W (EMG900EWT)
Enermax Pro87+ Series
- Pro87+ 500W (EPG500AWT)
- Pro87+ 600W (EPG600AWT)
The list includes power supplies from a number of series over the past few years that range from 500W to 1250W. I'm sure between now and the launch of Haswell in the first week of June that other PSU manufacturers will be announcing which models are compatible and which are not. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as more information becomes available!