Core i7 Nehalem Benchmarks Preview

Introduction & System Setups

Introduction
 
Intel Core i7"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh" (Breathes a sigh of relief). The past month or so has been hell for some of us here at Overclock3D. Yes, yes we know that you have absolutely no sympathy, but having had a chance to spend a day with Intel's new kid on the block, the i7 (codename: Nehalem), we've received a stupendous number of requests from readers and forum members asking us if it's all it's been hyped up to be, and generally trying to manipulate us in every which way possible just to obtain a glimpse at some of the results.
 
For those of you who are regular readers, you will already know that we've extensively covered details of its architecture in our recent 4 page article, compressed after spending a full 8 hours with Intel flipping through slides in a presentation. We've also previewed some of ASUS' upcoming X58 based motherboards: the P6T and Rampage II Extreme, along with fishing out some tasty images of motherboards from other manufacturers dotted around the net.
 
Now, finally the NDA has been lifted and today we can give you all exactly what you've been waiting for: BENCHMARKS. That's right, no technical mumbo-jumbo, no dissecting of the chip and pointing out body parts, just that collection of numbers that most of us overclockers and enthusiasts base our next purchase upon.
 
Listed below you will find details of each of the three systems we used for testing. We wanted each system to represent a sector of the market, and hopefully a system close to what most of our readers currently own. Starting with the ultra-high-end we obviously have the Core i7 setup, moving down to the high-end is a QX9650 setup and finally somewhere in the mid-range is a Q6600 setup. We also intended to test each configuration in both SLI and Crossfire configurations (after all this is a big selling feature of the X58), but unfortunately due to a lot of BSOD's with two 4870x2's and only a 6-hour window to play with the chip, we had to settle for the results of a single GPU only.
 
As per usual with all Overclock3D reviews, a fresh install of Windows Vista x64 SP1 was used after every motherboard swap-out and for the purpose of obtaining some 'stock performance' benchmarks, every performance-related setting in each of the BIOSes was left at its automatic value. So now that we've got those prerequisites out of the way, let's take a look at the rest of the system specs:
 
 
The Core i7 Extreme 940 @ 2.94GHz
 
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage II Extreme
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24 3x2GB 1.5v
Graphics: ASUS EAH4870x2
Hard Disk: Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB
Cooling: Stock Intel ES Cooler
GPU Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.10
 
Intel Core i7 Extreme 940 CPU-Z Intel Core i7 Extreme 940 CPU-Z
 
Our Core i7 setup was kitted out with three sticks of 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 (total 6GB) obviously giving the setup a bit of a head-start over our other test systems. However, the jump from 4GB to 6GB in most applications and games is negligible, whereas the alternative configuration of 3x1GB (3GB) may well have crippled the i7 system slightly once the memory-hungry Vista had taken its share of the resources.
 
 
The Core2Quad QX9650 @ 3.0ghz
 
Motherboard: ASUS P5E64 WS Evolution
Memory:
Corsair DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24 3x2GB 1.5v
Graphics: ASUS EAH4870x2
Hard Disk: Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB
Cooling: Stock Intel ES Cooler
GPU Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.10
 
QX9650 CPU-Z QX9650 CPU-Z
 
Clocked at almost the same speed as the i7 Extreme 940, the QX9650 was, up until recently, the 'big daddy' of CPU's. Using the same 45nm fabrication as the i7 with a slightly larger L3 cache, it'll certainly be interesting to see just how well this chip, that only 6 months ago would have set you back around £1000, will fair against Intel's latest weapon.
 
 
The Core2Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz
 
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage Formula
Memory:
Generic PC2-6400 6-6-6-18 2.0v
Graphics: ASUS EAH4870x2
Hard Disk: Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB
Cooling: Stock Intel ES Cooler
GPU Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.10
 
Q6600 - CPU-Z Q6600 CPU-Z
 
Probably one of the most popular CPU's in the last 6 months has to be the Q6600. Being the first of the "Quad Core" lineup from Intel, the Q6600 is not only reasonably priced, but with the advent of the 95w TDP "G0" stepping, also quickly became a favourite for overclockers who could push the chip up to, and sometimes beyond, 4.0GHz.
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Most Recent Comments

03-11-2008, 03:26:51

JN
"Finally the NDA has been lifted and today we can give you all exactly what you've been waiting for: Core i7 BENCHMARKS"

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...205402847l.jpg

Core i7 Nehalem Benchmarks Preview

03-11-2008, 04:09:54

Colossous
Nice one, looking forward to further testing on these babies

03-11-2008, 05:05:25

Jaster
***runs to get mop to clean drool up from around my workstation*** (health and safety first ....

Looks very impressive, just at stock, looking forward to the OC'ing and the SLI v Crossfire setup...

03-11-2008, 05:42:50

Rastalovich
Good stuff Jim.

Looking very much forward to see if it can maintain it`s credentials in the overclocking stakes. (cos we don`t use stock speeds around here.. do we ?)

Awesome.

03-11-2008, 05:51:46

Jaster
the problem is on the non "extreme" editions having over wattage protection could hinder overclocking capability, I think intel have finally realised that people were buying midranged CPU's and investing in top cooling...rather then forking out for the top ranged line....sad sad day....do you recon this is backlash from intel actually having very little competition these days...maybe so...so rast looks like stock maybe the only option for sub 500 i7's ....it makes me want to cry

03-11-2008, 05:52:30

!TIMMY!
Great article! Cant wait to see how these oc and compared to current hardware oced.

03-11-2008, 05:55:30

D-Cyph3r
Those Grid results are freaking unbelievable.

03-11-2008, 05:58:49

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='D-Cyph3r'
Those Grid results are freaking unbelievable.
Yeah GRID really seemed to make the most of the chip. My guess was that it was mostly down to "physics" calculations, as during each run of the game i'd ramp the car up a bank and send it flying into a wall at 170mph.

03-11-2008, 06:03:43

SuB
ok.. wow.. that's impressive....

be nice to see it overclocked..

makes my q6600 look crap! but that is at stock, be nice to see it against an average overclocked q66 but all to come i guess

memory bandwidth is absolutely INSANE!

depending on price point, i might pick something like this up for rendering, that Cinema 4D benchmark is very very promising

utterly astounded by that memory bandwidth though.. photoshop and video editing are going to LOVE this chip

03-11-2008, 06:24:51

w3bbo
Great preview m8y. Soooo tempted to go i7 now - just when I thought I had the setup I wanted something else comes along to throw a spanner in the works!

03-11-2008, 06:29:11

Rastalovich
i7 extreme 965 seems to clock on air just under what a x9650 will do. I`ve seen 4.13g, but ofc people are hitting 4.2+ with the x9650. Have no idea where the rumors of not being able to clock these things came from.

(having said that, I don`t know if the i7 went that high and then crapped out >.< )

03-11-2008, 06:34:32

Jaster
non extremes have wattage limiters, for the i7 920 theres only a 20w + margin, which will hinder overclocking, but only for the non extremes, check here for further info...unfortunately it looks like intel are waving there "no competition banner" with pride ...don't blame them, but if the oc'g is severeley limited then sticking with 775 and oc'g may still yield better results...on the low end i7's anyway...lets see what bencies we get from the oc'g....come on jim lets see more numbers still looks juicy just at stock...

03-11-2008, 06:41:44

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
non extremes have wattage limiters, for the i7 920 theres only a 20w + margin, which will hinder overclocking, but only for the non extremes, check here for further info...unfortunately it looks like intel are waving there "no competition banner" with pride ...don't blame them, but if the oc'g is severeley limited then sticking with 775 and oc'g may still yield better results...on the low end i7's anyway...lets see what bencies we get from the oc'g....come on jim lets see more numbers still looks juicy just at stock...
heheh i'm working on it. Would be nice if we could get a retail non-extreme sample to do some "I'm not a millionaire" testing, but I'm not sure when the stores are gonna start listing them as everything seems thin on the ground atm.

03-11-2008, 06:54:06

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
heheh i'm working on it. Would be nice if we could get a retail non-extreme sample to do some "I'm not a millionaire" testing, but I'm not sure when the stores are gonna start listing them as everything seems thin on the ground atm.
you hinting your a millionaire jim ...yeah every review ive seen this morning have been extreme editions....and a lot of people are talking "intel domination" ... sad day ... considering the worlds in recession and not many could happily afford these high end cpu's....there are children starving in the world...(blah blah blah)... (actually that makes me feel sad inside, i'd rather have more FPS then feed a child....I'm going to hell) ...

03-11-2008, 06:58:32

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
non extremes have wattage limiters, for the i7 920 theres only a 20w + margin, which will hinder overclocking, but only for the non extremes, check here for further info...unfortunately it looks like intel are waving there "no competition banner" with pride ...don't blame them, but if the oc'g is severeley limited then sticking with 775 and oc'g may still yield better results...on the low end i7's anyway...lets see what bencies we get from the oc'g....come on jim lets see more numbers still looks juicy just at stock...
How about a 920 running @ 3.9g ?

http://valid.x86-secret.com/show_oc.php?id=439417

x21 multiplier ???? 3.4g seems to be the popular hit.

03-11-2008, 07:02:36

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
you hinting your a millionaire jim .
*wishes* - No unfortunately I wont be upgrading my YachtPC to an i7...at least not this year

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
..yeah every review ive seen this morning have been extreme editions....and a lot of people are talking "intel domination" ... sad day ... considering the worlds in recession and not many could happily afford these high end cpu's....there are children starving in the world...(blah blah blah)... (actually that makes me feel sad inside, i'd rather have more FPS then feed a child....I'm going to hell) ...
Ahahah...You just managed to make me smile on a Monday morning! But lets face it, if everyone donated their PC upgrade funds to the 3rd world then we'd be the ones running P4's and suffering from lag while some Ethiopian kicks our asses with his new i7 rig running on a fibre connection

03-11-2008, 07:19:34

ionicle
wow, amd have a lot of work to do...

03-11-2008, 07:50:03

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
*wishes* - No unfortunately I wont be upgrading my YachtPC to an i7...at least not this year

Ahahah...You just managed to make me smile on a Monday morning! But lets face it, if everyone donated their PC upgrade funds to the 3rd world then we'd be the ones running P4's and suffering from lag while some Ethiopian kicks our asses with his new i7 rig running on a fibre connection
no they would just be running scams like there nigerian counterparts..."there is a pigeon in your bank account sir" ...at break neck speed ...cracking networks using elcomsofts password software on tri-sli'd gx280's ...and also kicking yer ass on CS at the same time .....

03-11-2008, 11:16:12

monkey7
Damn... It's sad the motherboards are so expensive. 200% the price for 150% the performance

Ah well, I'll see if there are some nice prices at the HCC!days (dutch computer marketplace). If the mobo+i7 gets below €400, it's mine :P

And DAMN I want to know how that guy got his 920 on 3.9 gHz. Maybe he had a prerelease version without the wattage limiter. If he had a retail version and it wasn't all too dangerous to do, I'm sold

*starts calculating the costs of buying an E8400 and i7 920 system*

And oh, am I allowed to post links to benchmarks on other sites?

03-11-2008, 11:27:59

Luigi
Nice review Jim, Good to be able to see the graphs at last :P

seems like quite a boost from Core2, but worth the cash? I dno..

03-11-2008, 11:45:13

Kerotan

Once again the Q6600 setup shows its total lack of umph compared to the other two systems, acting as a very large bottleneck and slowing the GPU down to around 90FPS at both resolutions.



90FPS aint bad for a chip that's ~2years old now tho is it? So long as it's pushing 60, it's still up to the job [in terms of gaming] imo, and as others have said, that was a stock clocked chip. GPU is still where it pays to spend more for gaming performance improvements.

Good review anyhow, be good to see these drive current prices down a little.

03-11-2008, 11:47:53

FarFarAway
Looks like I may have to upgrade, although I won't bother unless a GPU comes out that will allow the CPU/mobo to shine

I wonder how AMD's efforts will go?

03-11-2008, 11:56:01

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='monkey7'
And DAMN I want to know how that guy got his 920 on 3.9 gHz. Maybe he had a prerelease version without the wattage limiter. If he had a retail version and it wasn't all too dangerous to do, I'm sold
It is questionable, from everything post NDA it seems that no one has actually had a retail 920 to test, you know what its like, new technology and lots of sites publishing unconfirmed or inaccurate data...all we can do is wait till the OC3D lot get a retail 920 in...then we'll have our answers...the wattage limiter though if reports are true seems a bit underhand ... I want AMD to at least give them a run for there money at the moment its more like a rocket car versus a dead horse in a shopping cart

03-11-2008, 12:04:44

Rastalovich
There`s 920 cpus in the likes of hwbot with cpuz confirmation screenies.

03-11-2008, 12:10:07

Jaster
until there confirmed as retail then the question is still up there...kind of like the amd "black edition"...unlocked multiplier and all that....even 20 watts though should be enough to give it a small boost...until general release I don't think were gonna answer these questions ...time will tell....looking forward to the "attainable" i7 reviews....sorry >400 is a bit too heavy on my wallet...I can hear my bank manager coming after me with crow bar....

03-11-2008, 12:26:59

Kerotan
I wouldn't go up against my bank manager if he was Gordon Freeman either^^

03-11-2008, 18:04:54

Toxcity
Well, I am not really all that impressed. Intel can go lick there bums.

I was expecting a little more Ommph! But got something that can perform only slightly better than todays Extremes.

An overpriced Penryn on steroids.

03-11-2008, 18:15:11

Zoot
I'd like one myself for one reason only - to do some heavy Linux multitasking on the 8 threads.

TBH I'll hold off with Yorkfield until the 32nm die shrink at least though.

Should have done that with Conroe.

04-11-2008, 08:16:54

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Well, I am not really all that impressed. Intel can go lick there bums.

I was expecting a little more Ommph! But got something that can perform only slightly better than todays Extremes.

An overpriced Penryn on steroids.

Well.. to be fair, I`m looking at this new socket to have "competant" cpus for atleast the first year or so. Something that`ll do that much little more % than the existing best 775. After a year I can see some real ball-busting cpus coming out.

Not like we need them or anything, but computers are no longer in the realms of trying to be the best they can be, it`s all about selling units.
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