Upgrading From Intel P55 w/ Lynnfield to Intel Z68 w/ Sandy Bridge

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I7 2600k Overclock Results

Now that we finally had a good stable overclock of 5.2 Ghz on this MSI Z68A-GD80 motherboard we tried a few of the benchmarks again.  Lets see what the i7 2600k Sandy Bridge can do when it is really pushed!


Adobe After Effects CS5 Render

We again fired up Adobe After Effects and re-rendered the same scene as before with the same settings on this overclocked CPU.


After Effects CS5 Render overclock

We dropped another 4 seconds or and additional 11% improvement over the stock clocks.  Nice gain for a 1.8 GHz overclock.

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

Next we fired up the x264 benchmark to see what kind of improvement this would see from this aggressive overclock.

x264 HD Overclock
Here we saw a 6.86 frame improvement in FPS encoded or 15%.  Very impressive jump in performance showing off the extra cycles under the hood of the mighty i7 chips.


Aliens vs. Predator

We did not take the time to overclock the GPU but still was curious what kind of improvement 1.8 GHz would have on our AvP benchmark.

Aliens vs. Predator Overclock
Nothing to amazing here, just a modest bump in performance from the extra CPU cycles.  This is inline with what we would have expected for a CPU only overclock.

Power Consumption
This of course is the big issue for overclocking since it is the trade off of heat and power consumption for those oh so sweet extra cycles from your gear.

Power Consumption Overclock
Well that massive overclock had a nice penalty on how power efficient old Sandy Bridge can be.  You basically trade 1.8 GHz of sweetness for the same power consumption of the older chip set.  I think most enthusiasts would make that trade off but it does negate one of the main advantages of moving to the current generation architecture.


Conclusion
After painful trial and error we finally got this MSI Z68A-GD80 board running stable at 5.2GHz with an i7 2600k processor but it took custom beta BIOS to make it happen.  It is a shame that a three month old top of the line motherboard would be behind on its BIOS but sometimes time to market is the most important thing.  We did see several posts on popular forums asking why they were having such trouble getting past 50 multiplier or that the system locked their multiplier at a rate and they couldn’t move it.  It looks like we stumbled on this too but at least MSI is aware and correcting the issue.  Better on our test systems rather than your main PC!

We also want to note that Sandy Bridge runs cool, so cool in fact we are not sure there is any real benefit to water cooling the CPU.  If we did not already have that loop built we probably would have just used a good aftermarket air cooler and I am sure we could have hit the same overclocking level.  The GPU’s still benefit from going under water as they still are the hottest components in any build.

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