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

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The Contenders

Intel 1156 Lynnfield i7 870 and Nvidia GF100 GTX 470: Contender #1

This rig was an able performer sporting last season’s
fashion consisting of a nice Intel Lynnfield i7 870 CPU, 16 GB of DRAM,
Nvidia GTX 470 GPU, OCZ LE SATAII SSD, WD 2TB Black 7200 RPM HDD,an
ASUS P7P55D – E Deluxe motherboard, and a Dell 2407WFP display.  We put
this system together before the unlocked i7 875k was released but it
was still a very able overclocker and has provided us with great
service over the last year and a half.  To extract
all the performance out of the CPU and GPU so we put the CPU and GPU
underwater to really crank up that overclock.  This gave us slightly
more performance than the higher CPU and GPU at significantly lower

Last generation work horse:

1156 GF100 old system

While we are very happy with this machine and it has provided
many many hours game play and was
fairly snappy at booting and video rendering it finally hit that
point….     Most of it was last generation technology.  Sandy Bridge has a much better FPU and memory
management.  Nvidia fixed the crippled FERMI chip in the GF100 with the
release of the GF110 with lowered thermals while increasing the
performance.  SATA III SSD’s hit the market at reasonable prices.  USB
3.0 drives started hitting the shelves.  And Dell was getting rave
reviews on the U3011 30” monitor.  We had tried to future proof this
system a bit by picking the ASUS P7P55D – E Deluxe motherboard.  This motherboard had two Marvell SATA 6Gb/s ports and two USB 3.0 ports via a NEC D720200 controller.  We could
have gone for a i7 875K or the i7 880 but with Sandy Bridge out why
would you pick that very minor upgrade.  

ASUS P7P55D-E Deluxe

ASUS P7P55D-E Deluxe – motherboard – ATX – LGA1156 Socket – P55 – LGA1156 Socket No Longer Sold

EVGA GeForce GTX 470

EVGA GeForce GTX 470 SuperClocked 1.25GB GDDR5 No Longer Sold

Intel Core i7 Quad-core I7-870

Intel Core i7 Quad-core I7-870 2.93GHz Processor $308.08 shipped

Corsair Vengeance 16GB

Corsair Vengeance 16GB PC3-12800 1600Mhz DDR3 $122.28 shipped

OCZ Vertex Limited Edition 100GB

OCZ Vertex Limited Edition 100GB SATA II MLC  $109.99 shipped

WD Caviar Black

WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1 TB Internal Hard Drive  $82.98 shipped


Intel 1155 Sandy Brdge i7 2600k and Nvidia GF110 GTX 570: Contender #2 

Intel made a significant architecture improvement from the
Lynnfield processors based on Nehalem microarchitectures that were
released in 2008 to the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture released in
2011.  The most notable was shrinking the fab from a 45 nm down to 32
nm, improved branch prediction, increase to 256-bit wide vectors for
floating-point arithmetic utilizing the Advanced Vector Extensions
(AVX) to the x86 instruction set, and Turbo Boost dynamic
overclocking.  Intel claimed all of this provided on average a 17% bump
in performance over the Lynnfield series at a lower power consumption
and with better thermals.  Legit looked at Sandy Bridge back in January
and you can get more details here.

MSI z68A angle

New Rig

Starting with the foundation of the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3)
motherboard we added an i7 2600k Sandy Bridge CPU to start.  Then we
grabbed the EVGA GTX 570 Classified we just reviewed and dropped in the same 16GB 1600 MHz Corsair Vengence kit we were using on the 1156 board.  That is one nice thing about the
upgrade is that both platforms support the same DDR3 DRAM memory.  For
the OS drive we upgraded to a Patriot Pyro 120GB SATAIII SSD with a claimed 550MB/s read and 515MB/s write performance that Legit
reviewed in August.  To keep our games and applications snappy we
utilized another larger capacity SSD from PQI, the S535 256GB SATA II drive review back in May.  Finally we used a WD Cavair Black 2TB
drive for pictures, videos, and music storage.  We still have the Patriot Javelin S4 NAS rocking 8TB RAID for backups and extreme storage needs.

EMSI Z68a-Gd80 (G3) Desktop Motherboard

MSI Z68a-Gd80 (G3) Desktop Motherboard – Intel – Socket H2 Lga-1155
$219.99 shipped

EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Classified

EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Classified 012-P3-1578-AR $364.04 shipped

Intel Core i7-2600K

Intel Core i7-2600K Quad Core Processor $323.36 shipped

Corsair Vengeance 16GB

Corsair Vengeance 16GB PC3-12800 1600Mhz DDR3 $122.28 shipped

Patriot Memory PYRO 120 GB

Patriot Memory PYRO 120 GB Solid State Drives PP120GS25SSDR $177.28 shipped


PQI SSD S535 SF-1222 256GBSATA II MLC Not Currently Avaliable for Retail Sale 

WD Caviar Black

WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 2 TB Internal Hard Drive  $142.85 shipped


Case, PSU, and Cooling

We had the original system in one of the best full tower cases of the time, the Corsair Obsidian series 700D,
which won an editors’ choice award back in May of 2010.  We have seen a
lot of new cases come out since then but for water cooling this full
tower is still one of the best so we decided to reuse the 700D even
though Corsair no longer sells this version.  The 800D is still being
sold with the side window and front drive bays but you can find used
700D’s on ebay.  If we were looking to go more extreme on the water
cooling we might consider a Case Labs or Mountain Mods set up but those
cases take up a lot of real-estate and the Sandy Bridge and GF110
chips both run cooler than what we had originally.

In the original system we had a 80 Plus Silver Certified
Corsair HX850W modular PSU that is more than enough power to run the
new rig with a single GTX 570.  It runs quiet and the modular power
runs allows us to minimize cable clutter and the 80 Plus Silver means
it is fairly efficient easing our utility costs.

Since this system is in one of our offices and serves double
duty between business and gaming we wanted something that allowed us to
push the performance without generating a ton of fan noise.  Further
since this unit sits in a desk, the airflow is not optimal meaning we
need a way to move heat more efficiently.  These requirements point to
one cooling solution, water.  

The original rig had the CPU and GPU cooled with EK’s Supreme HF Full
Nickel v2 CPU block and EK’s Nickel GTX 470 full cover block running
through a Swifttech 360mm rad and a Feser 120mm Rad.  Using a D5 pump
attached to an EK multi-option reservoir to drive the distilled water
through the 7/16″ tubes, this system provided excellent cooling.  For
the new rig we upgraded to an XSPC 360mm rad and dropped the Feser
120mm.  The EVGA GTX 570 Classified is running on air for the moment but
looking at adding a Koolance full cover block in the near future.  

EK Supreme Full Nickel HF v2 CPU Block

EK Supreme Full Nickel HF v2 CPU Block

EK GTX 470 Nickel full cover block

EK GTX 470 Nickel full cover block

Corsair CMPSU-850HX

Corsair CMPSU-850HX ATX12V & EPS12V Power Supply $174.95 shipped

Corsair Obsidian 800D

Corsair Obsidian 800D Chassis $281.82 shipped


NOTE: We used Window 7 Professional SP1 with all updates and latest drivers for all the hardware for both systems in the ring.

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