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Intel i7-4930K & i7-4820K Ivy Bridge-E Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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So here we are, about a week after the Ivy Bridge-E launch and a few hours past these new processors’ widespread availability on store shelves and one thing is obvious: while many enthusiasts are excited about the prospect of a 12-thread IVB architecture, few are willing to pay $1000 for that privilege. You see, the i7-4960X we reviewed last week is horribly expensive and offers minimal to no performance improvements over the more affordable Haswell i7-4770K in some key areas. But Intel isn’t launching just one CPU here. The i7-4930K and i7-4820K offer similar features at prices that are well within the reach of today’s cost-conscious users.

Intel’s direction with Ivy Bridge-E is particularly interesting and it has caused no small amount of controversy. While the processors themselves represent modest improvements over the outgoing Sandy Bridge-E products, they’re tied at the hip to X79, a platform which is beginning to show its age. X58 users looking for an upgrade will certainly appreciate its feature set but when placed alongside less expensive Z87 offerings, X79 lacks native USB 3.0 support, omits Intel’s SSD Caching and makes due with only two native SATA 6Gbps ports. Those are significant shortcomings in a product space than lives and dies by the features offered to end users.


In an effort to mitigate the perceived blow associated with buying an X79 board alongside a new processor, Intel’s lower-end IVB-E’s are priced more competitively than their powerful sibling. The i7-4930K is literally a carbon copy of the $1000 4960X aside from its slightly lower Base / Turbo frequencies and a bit less L3 cache. Even with these changes, it still retains a TDP of 130W and a relatively high clock speed but don’t expect all that much of a performance difference between these two high end Intel CPUs. That last point is particularly important for would-be buyers since the i7-4930K costs nearly $450 less.

The i7-4820K is the current darling of Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E lineup, taking over from the well-received i7-3820. While the i7-3820 had its multiplier capped at 45X, this new CPU has a max multi of 63X so hitting ultra high frequencies won’t require changes to the Base Clock or gear ratio (two items which could hold back overclocks in some instances). It also boasts the highest at Base Clock of the bunch at 3.7GHz but the price is what will likely draw people in. At just $310, you can buy an i7-4820K, a decent motherboard and a high performance graphics card for the price of a single i7-4960X. Sure, you’ll have four less threads, a slightly lower Turbo frequency and much less cache but primary X79 features like dual x16 Gen3 PCI-E slots will still be carried over.


Naturally, there will be many parallels drawn between the 4820K and the i7-4770K. They’re priced within $10 of one another, but the i7-4820K has an edge in its Base Clock, houses a higher amount of cache and natively supports 1866MHz memory. On the other hand, Haswell incorporates a number of different and potentially game-changing baseline architectural improvements and is part of a more up-to-date platform. This is a battle many have been waiting to see.

With all of that being said, some of you may be wondering what the fundamental difference is between the $1000 X-series processor and K-branded CPUs. Other than clock speeds, cache and core count, there's absolutely nothing to differentiate them other than the 4960X receiving a distinctive “X” moniker and the premium that carries. Every one of Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E SKUs boast unlocked multipliers so from an overclocking standpoint, they should be on a level playing field.

The i7-4930K and i7-4820K may not be the highest-end processors in Intel’s lineup but their focus is on adding a bit of much-needed value to the Ivy Bridge-E product stack. Considering the criticisms leveled at their more expensive counterpart, one would hope they can offer exactly that, even in the face of Haswell competition.
 
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SKYMTL

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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared a number of different test setups, representing many of the popular platforms at the moment. As much as possible, the test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.


For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates

E) All programs are installed and then updated.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

G) All processors had their energy saving options / c-states enabled
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Montreal
System Benchmarks: AIDA64 / Cinebench r11.5

System Benchmarks


In this section, we will be using a combination of synthetic benchmarks which stress the CPU and system in a number of different domains. Most of these tests are easy to acquire or are completely free to use so anyone reading this article can easily repeat our tests on their own systems.

To vary the results as much as possible, we have chosen a selection of benchmarks which focus upon varied instruction sets (SSE, SSE3, 3DNow!, AVX, etc.) and different internal CPU components like the floating point units and general processing stages.


AIDA64 Extreme Edition


AIDA64 uses a suite of benchmarks to determine general performance and has quickly become one of the de facto standards among end users for component comparisons. While it may include a great many tests, we used it for general CPU testing (CPU ZLib / CPU Hash) and floating point benchmarks (FPU VP8 / FPU SinJulia).


CPU ZLib Benchmark

This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions but is nonetheless a good indicator of general system performance.




CPU Hash Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly. More importantly, it uses MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX instruction sets, allowing for increased performance on supporting processors.





FPU VP8 / SinJulia Benchmarks

AIDA’s FPU VP8 benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 and stresses the floating point unit. The test encodes 1280x720 resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at a bitrate of 8192 kbps with best quality settings. The content of the frames are then generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extensions.

Meanwhile, SinJulia measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and utilizes trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions.





CineBench r11.5 64-bit


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

 

SKYMTL

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System Benchmarks: Civ V / PCMark 7

System Benchmarks (pg.2)



Civilization V: Gods & Kings Unit Benchmark


Civilization V includes a number of benchmarks which run on the CPU, GPU or a combination thereof. The Unit Benchmark simulates thousands of units and actions being generated at the same time, stresses multi core CPUs, system memory and GPU We give the non-rendered score below as it is more pertinent to overall CPU performance within the application.




PCMark 7


PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. We also give the Computation Suite score as it isolates the CPU and memory within a single test, without the influence of other components.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,857
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Montreal
System Benchmarks: 3DMark (CPU) / WPrime

System Benchmarks (pg.3)



3DMark06 CPU


While 3DMark06 may be a slightly older synthetic benchmark, its CPU test still allows for multi threaded performance evaluations within a gaming environment. It effectively removes the CPU from the equation, generating a CPU-centric score.



WPrime


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload. Below are the scores for the 32M and 1024M benchmarks.





System Benchmarks: Single Thread Performance


Even though most modern applications have the capability to utilize more than one CPU thread, single threaded performance is still a cornerstone of modern CPU IPC improvements. In this section, we take a number of synthetic applications and run them in single thread mode.



 

SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: 7-Zip / MediaCoder

Productivity Benchmarks


In this section, we will avoid generalized synthetic benchmarks and instead concentrate upon CPU performance within real-world applications and standard usage patterns. Every one of the programs included here has functions that many professionals and everyday users utilize in their day to day computing lives.


7-Zip


At face value, 7-Zip is a simple compression/decompresion tool like popular applications like WinZip and WinRAR but it also has numerous additional functions that can allow encryption, decryption and other options. For this test, we are avoiding its built-in benchmark and once again only focus upon real world testing by compressing a 2.6GB folder of various files and adding an AES-256 encryption layer for good measure. The test is timed until it is complete.



MediaCoder x64


Due to the varying compatibility of certain mobile devices, video transcoding performance has become something of a big deal. Transcoding allows one type of video / audio file to be converted into a different format and it typically takes up a huge amount of system resources. The MediaCoder application brings multi format transcoding to an accessible level with numerous options and acceleration for Intel’s QuickSync and NVIDIA’s CUDA technologies. In addition, its CPU support allows for full multi core utilization. In this test, we use the MediaCoder i-devices edition to convert a 600MB AVCHD file to an iPhone 4S friendly MPEG-4 format.

 

SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: Photoshop CS6 / POV Ray 3.7

Productivity Benchmarks (pg.2)



Adobe Photoshop CS6


For the image editing portion of this section, we use Photoshop CS6 in coordination with a custom benchmark script. This script automates the application of 20 different image manipulation functions to a 120MB PNG image, acting as an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. For this test, we have disabled GPU acceleration so it won’t play a factor in the areas where it would typically be used. We use Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage.



POV Ray 3.7 RC6


POV Ray is a complex yet simple to use freeware ray tracing program which has the ability to efficiently use multiple CPU cores in order to speed up rendering output. For this test, we use its built-in benchmark feature which renders multiple passes of a high definition scene. In order to get the most accurate results, the second pass of the first test is logged, resulting in a benchmark score showing the average amount of pixels rendered per second.

 

SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: TrueCrypt 7.1 / x264HD

Productivity Benchmarks (pg. 3)



TrueCrypt 7.1


Truecrypt is another freeware gem which allows for on-the-fly disk encryption. More importantly, it fully supports AES-256 encryption methods and multi core processors. For this test, we used the built-in benchmark tool are logged the data throughput for TrueCrypt’s AES-256 encryption method.



x264HD Benchmark


x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video. We use the second pass of the first test for this benchmark as it fully loads all multi core processors.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,857
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Montreal
Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark11

Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks



3DMark11


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. While the GPU plays a primary role here, 3DMark 11 takes full advantage of multiple CPU threads so any bottlenecks caused by the CPU will also be evident. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Entry and Performance presets.




3DMark06


While its DX9 tests may not seem to be completely relevant in a DX11 era, 3DMark06 still provides an excellent measuring device for both multi core CPU and GPU performance. For this benchmark we are using the standard preset.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,857
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Montreal
720P Gaming: Deus Ex: HR / Dirt 3 / Skyrim

720P Gaming Benchmarks


Processors play a huge roll in gameplay performance since they have to process copious amounts of information for the GPU. In the following tests, we use a simple 720P resolution and the lowest possible detail settings in an effort to remove the graphics processor from the equation and place additional pressure on the CPU. 720P was used since it is a resolution that is extensively used by gamers sporting lower end HDTVs and it doesn’t put as much stress upon the GPU as 1080P.

For every one of the following titles, a simple 1 minute gameplay walkthrough was used and the average frames per second was logged via FRAPS.




 
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