Indianapolis (IN) – HotHardware.com posted an article yesterday about overclocking Intel’s entry-level Core i7 920 CPU. The CPU costs $300 compared to over $1,000 for the high-end 965 model, and HH wanted to see how far they could push it. Purchasing a retail box right off the shelf at a local store, and using some exotic heatsinks on it, HH was able to take the 2.66 GHz stock CPU and crank it to 3.8 GHz on air.
The article breaks down the ease of overclocking:
1) Easy – On air, up to 3.8 with mild voltage increases.
2) Moderate – On air, over 4.0 GHz, special cooling solutions.
3) Difficult – 4.2 GHz and higher, liquid or extremely exotic cooling solutions.
The total system power consumption increased when overclocked, from 196 watts at idle to 253 watts. Under full load it increased more from 245 watts to 368 watts.
On the benchmarks (page 6), there are some interesting anomalies. The performance increase isn’t a linear graph with the faster clock speeds resulting in better performance. In fact, in most tests that weren’t strictly CPU-only tests there were variations in the graph, allowing some faster clocked tests to show lesser results than lower clocked ones.
Gamers will be happy to know that the performance increase curves on games were pretty much as expected. The faster the clock, the better the performance. Though, it was obvious the graphics card became the limiting factor on the Crysis Demo used for the test, as 3.5 GHz to 4.0 GHz clocked in at 58.81 to 60.23 fps, a mild increase compared to the 48 fps to 54.23 fps jump seen in moving from 2.66 GHz to 3.0 GHz, a near equal MHz spread.
HH’s conclusion is that by buying a $300 920-based system, the enthusiast can get better performance than the 3.2 GHz high-end model while saving a lot of money. In fact, based on the requirements of the new overclocked 920 system, for the equivalent price of the 965 CPU alone, the enthusiast could buy the 920 CPU and all hardware components necessary to overclock well beyond 3.2 GHz, delivering better performance – though, voiding the CPU’s warranty.
Read the article at HotHardware.com.