Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E launch and the SC11 conference dominated the headlines this last week. But AMD also managed to get a few words in with the launch of its Opteron 6200 series. In spite of this Intel managed to soak up most of the spotlight as evidenced by the one sidedness of the reviews this week.
Dustin Sklavos of Anandtech took a look at one of the cheaper Ultrabooks on the market, the Toshiba Portege Z835. Priced at $879 and on sale for $799 the Z835 is a good choice if portability is your greatest concern. But when compared to its lower priced competition like Lenovo’s X120e, which we review earlier this year, the Z835 looks less appealing. The cost difference is between them is about $400, and even if you add in the $100 to $200 for an SSD upgrade, there’s still a $200 dollar price advantage in favor of the X120e. Admittedly the Z835 will no doubt win when it comes to raw performance, but the X120e can make up the difference with its superior keyboard and matte screen. When it comes down to it, Ultrabooks are just not cheap enough yet to be a truly compelling offering in the market place.
Over at the Tech Report Geoff Gasior reviewed Intel’s new Sandy Bridge-E desktop CPU. He noted that although Sandy Bridge-E is the fastest desktop CPU in the world, the launch as a whole feels a little rushed due to the X79’s lack of real improvement over the P67, and beta AHCI and RAID drivers from Intel. He also found that Sandy Bridge-E puts out a considerable amount of heat as evidenced by the chip throttling itself when he raised clocks into the 4.5Ghz range. Of the four motherboards he tested Sandy Bridge-E on, Intel’s DX79SI and ASUS’s P9X79 PRO were his top picks. Sandy Bridge-E is here, but for many it just doesn’t warrant upgrading from their 2500 or 2600K’s, maybe Ivy Bridge will change that.
Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos of Tom’s Hardware found that Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E is actually a less efficient CPU than the original. With similar clock speeds and no GPU many expected that Sandy Bridge-E would improve upon the original’s performance per watt numbers. The fact that Sandy Bridge chips are superior to their upsized, and GPU-less, Sandy Bridge-E brethren came as a bit of a surprise. It seems that the two extra cores and chunk of cache consume more power than their impact on performance merits. Although some have pointed out that the lack of efficiency might be attributable to the quad channel memory controller. Whatever the case, Sandy Bridge-E is another example that efficiency does not scale linearly with performance.
Anandtech’s Johan De Gelas took a brief look at AMD’s new Opteron 6200 series finding that Interlagos is an odd beast. In quite a few of the applications he tested the new Opterons were only marginally ahead of their predecessors. Idle power consumption is lower in applications that are core-gating aware, and slightly higher under full load when compared to the 6100 series. Still, in certain applications the 6200’s can be up to 32 percent faster than the 6100’s and the 6200’s are faster in single threaded workloads to boot. So Interlagos is better than Magny-cours, but it’s not really the game changer that AMD needs in the server market. Johan’s working on a part II, so check back for that next week.
Rounding out our lineup this week we have Guru3D Hilbert Hagedoorn’s review of the nicest X79 motherboard on the market. ASUS’s Rampage IV Extreme sports the same red and black aesthetic found on all of the Republic of Gamers branded motherboards. In addition this board offers a lot of features, many of them being hardcore overclocking specific. For example the Rampage IV has a dual bio switch, a CPU power switch, and error code reader, and even a special device called the OC key which can overlay clock speed and voltage information from the motherboard onto your monitor independent of your OS. With a bit of tweaking the Sandy Bridge-E chip was running at 5GHz and putting up Cinebench numbers that were very similar to AMD Interlagos chip from the Anandtech review. ASUS has once again produced a motherboard that is suited to hardcore overclocking like no other. Records were meant to be broken, and with this board in the hands of enthusiasts it’s only a matter of time.S|A