When looking at Intel’s Lynnfield CPU’s it is hard not to see this launch as a complete success. The new i7-870 offers consumers noticeable performance benefits over the fastest of the Core 2 family and does so at an attractive price point. In addition to this it regularly performs better than the i7-920 thanks to a higher clock speed. The i5-750 doesn’t quite have the same feel to it in terms of performance but considering the lower price point it becomes very attractive as a the basis for a low cost system. While it doesn’t compete with the i7 range it does compare favourably with AMDs fastest processor, the Phenom 2 965BE.
Throughout our review the two processors were hard to separate, until we enabled the Turbo Boost functionality on the i5. With that in place the processor exceeded the Phenom 2 and as far as value for money goes, it is hard to beat.
When looking at the performance of the P55 motherboards that we tested today it is hard to fault any of the boards. In each of our tests the products were completely stable and provided results which were within a few percentage points of each other. If pushed to choose a performance leader it would be the Maximus III Formula (but only just) and if picking the board which was very slightly slower than the others it would be the P55H-A.
This means that the decision on which board to buy has to come down to other factors. The strong points for the Maximus III Formula has to be its huge number of features it offers and level of engineering it has taken to have them all packed on to a PCB. There is very little that this board cannot do. In a way this positive aspect could also be seen as a negative, there will be many people who never take advantage of many features provided by the board. This is where the P7P55D Deluxe may best suit a consumer. The P7 features many of the same features as the Maximus board however doesn’t go as far as including items like the ROG connect components. It also has the excellent automatic overclocking BIOS tool which assists novices in enhancing performance with little effort or worry of damaging components.
At Driverheaven we are continually impressed by the Extreme Series boards which Intel produce. On numerous occasions we have rated them highly, mainly for the excellent performance they offer but most notably due to the exceptional stability and durability we have experienced. To this day our original D975XBX2 is still running without issue, despite being stressed on a daily basis and we see no reason why the DP55KG would be any different. What we can say for sure is that in terms of performance and features the latest release from Intel is impressive. Also worth noting is that where the Asus board is excellent at assisting novice overclockers, Intel makes updating the BIOS easy for everyone with their Express BIOS tool.
Finally we have the ECS P55H-A. In this product ECS have a simple, no frills motherboard which performs excellently and keeps costs at a reasonable level. It was not as easy to get 2000MHz memory running on this motherboard as it was the Asus models but with a bit of time and effort it was possible. 1600MHZ memory ran without issue by simply setting the memory voltage, speed and timings. One aspect of the board which did particularly impress us was the speed at which the POST process completes. Combined with a fast SSD it is possible to reach the Windows desktop on this motherboard while the Intel and Asus models are still powering up and completing their checks.
The CPUs and motherboards featured in this review are all of a very high standard and the memory from Corsair, G.Skill and Kingston continue that trend. Corsair’s Dominator modules were the memory we used throughout our CPU testing and as expected they performed flawlessly throughout, compatibility is never an issue with this brand. We are also pleased to see that even though these are reasonably standard modules, they still feature the components required to connect the modules to the Ice T30 TEC cooler.
Kingston and G.Skill provided us with modules which have near identical specifications, the end result being that both kits performed at a very similar level. Like the Corsair sticks these were both X.M.P. programmed and offered lifetime warranty’s so the decision on which of the product to buy may well come down to cost, shop around at the time of purchase and see which kit best suits your wallet.
Intel’s reference 1156 cooler is quite impressive for a bundled heatsink but despite this Cooler Master and Thermalright were able to provide us with performance which was impressive for products which don’t utilise liquid. In terms of installation procedure the Thermalright method was quicker but slightly more awkward as the X bracket can move around. The Cooler Master Hyper TX3 required us to screw in the clips which is a little more time consuming but its was easier to attach to the board as a result, additionally it supports more processors/sockets than the Mux-120. On the performance front the Thermalright just edges it with a 2 degrees Celsius advantage.
Gigabyte have a number of motherboards on the market which use the X58 chipset and each has its own unique selling points. For this particular model the emphasis is on price whilst maintaining performance. The result of these changes is that we lack features such as six memory slots and a maximum capacity of 24GB, instead its four slots and 16 GB. In reality this will only affect a small percentage of the public.
Despite the lower price point of the GA-EX58-UD3R it is good to see that Gigabyte have retained the 2OZ copper PCB and that the BIOS has all of the performance tweaking options that we would require in a low cost system. Also worthy of note is that the board performed flawlessly and stability was perfect throughout our testing.