CPU/Memory area

i5 Clarkdale on Biostar TH55XE

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We’ve seen a lot of news about Intel’s 32nm CPU on the internet in the past six months. Much of it was about Core i7-980X, which is for LGA 1366 and has 6 physical cores + 6 virtual HT cores (12 Threaded). The focus of Intel’s 32nm CPU is soon to be that top level LGA 1366 platform, which most consumers won’t be too interested in due to its considerably higher price.

Now let us take a look at Intel’s LGA 1156 platform. This platform will launch new 32nm CPU products, including Core i5 6XX and Core i3 5XX series, named Clarkdale.

The market orientation of these two series is different from previous Intel CPUs. The main reason behind Intel’s new CPU structure is that they are not putting the GPU into chipsets like before, but directly into the CPU. Intel’s new design will affect future PC market styles with a new “all in one motherboard.”

On the chipset side, Intel is releasing H55/H57 to support the new CPU design; the main difference between them is without or with a RAID function, respectively. Like the P55 chipset, a single-chip is adopted in the new chipset; I assume Micro-ATX form factor will be the main design for H55/H57 motherboards. Of course, some manufacturers also released an ATX form factor for higher-level H57 boards, seeming to directly compete with AMD’s 785G/790GX. Since Micro-ATX products from AMD have held a special attraction for consumers for quite some time now, Intel is hoping the new product line will increase their market share.

CPU/Memory area

CPU/Memory area

This time I used a BIOSTAR T-Series TH55XE as my motherboard platform, which uses an Intel H55 chipset without RAID function. Its street price is around $115.

First, we can see that black is the main color for the package. I think the matching color is rather subdued, and the package design is very unique.

Packaging

Packaging

Product manual, driver CD, related cables and IO panel are included.

Accessories

Accessories

The BIOSTAR TSERIES TH55XE itself.

Biostar Tseries TH55XE

Biostar Tseries TH55XE

Biostart Tseries TH55XE (2)

Biostart Tseries TH55XE (2)

Intel’s latest LGA 1156 32nm CPU front/reverse side. The CPU in the picture is Core i5 661, 2 physical cores + 2 virtual HT cores (4 Threading).

  • CPU clock: 133 X 25 = 3.33GHz; built-in GPU clock = 900MHz
Core i5 661

Core i5 661

Lower-left of the motherboard

  • 1 X PCI-E X16
  • 1 X PCI-E X4
  • 2 X PCI
  • LAN chipset: Realtek 8111DL
  • Audio chipset: Realtek ALC888,7.1 channels and supports HD Audio
Motherboard Lower Left

Motherboard Lower Left

Lower-right of the motherboard

  • 5 x yellow SATAII,H55 provides SATA2 specification
  • Power、Reset buttons、debug indicators
Motherboard Lower Right

Motherboard Lower Right

Upper-right of the motherboard

  • 4 x DIMM DDR3, supports 800/1066/1333/1600(OC)/2000(OC), maximum capacity of DDR3 is 16GB。
  • 1 X IDE, by JMB368
  • With 24-PIN power connector
Motherboard Upper Right

Motherboard Upper Right

Upper-left of the motherboard

  • LGA 1156 location, adopting CPU 4+ VTT 2+GPU 1 phases power supply
  • BIOSTAR adopts IR DirectFET phase design for power supply, with higher cost and better quality than common material.
Motherboard Upper Left

Motherboard Upper Left

I/O Panel

  • 1 X D-SUB
  • 1 X DVI-D
  • 1 X HDMI
  • 4 X USB 2.0
  • 1 X RJ-45
  • 1 X eSATA/USB 2.0
  • 1 X S/PDIF Out
  • 1 X IEEE 1394
Motherboard I/O Area

Motherboard I/O Area

Under the heatsink of the TSERIES is an H55 chipset.

Motherboard Southbridge Heatsink

Motherboard Southbridge Heatsink

The MOSFETs use a smaller heatsink.

Motherboard MOSFET Heatsink

Motherboard MOSFET Heatsink

LAN chipset Realtek 8111DL.

LAN Chipset - Realtek 8111DL

LAN Chipset - Realtek 8111DL

Audio chipset Realtek ALC888, surrounded by Japanese solid capacitors.

Audio Chipset - Realtek ALC888

Audio Chipset - Realtek ALC888

Boot logo.

Boot Logo

Boot Logo

Main page of adjusting frequency / voltage.

BIOS Main Frequncy Adjusting Page

BIOS Main Frequency Adjusting Page

Voltage page.

  • CPU Vocre -0.080~+1.260V
  • CPU VTT Voltage 1.150~2.080V
  • CPU PLL Voltage 1.800~2.730V
  • DRAM Voltage 1.300~2.545V
  • PCH PLL Voltage 1.100~2.030V
  • PCH Voltage 1.10~1.25V
  • IGD Voltage 1.18~1.78V
BIOS - Voltage Adjustments

BIOS - Voltage Adjustments

Intel PPM Configuration, many C-STATE features can be selected from here.

BIOS - PPM Page

BIOS - PPM Page

DDR3 Timing Configuration. Users can adjust settings according to their DRAM specifications.

BIOS - Memory Timings Page

BIOS - Memory Timings Page

BIOSTAR’s G.P.U Phase Control. CPU Load Line option is also put in this page.

BIOS - GPU Phase Control + LLC Page

BIOS - GPU Phase Control + LLC Page

Built-in GPU option, named IGD Graphics. 32/64/128MB can be selected to share RAM.

BIOS - Integrated GPU Page

BIOS - Integrated GPU Page

Main page of CPU options. Common C1E, HT, VT, etc technology all can be set enabled or disabled from here.

BIOS - CPU Technology Page

BIOS - CPU Technology Page

When built-in GPU is used, all of these options will appear. The built-in GPU can be overclocked with a range from 133 ~ 2000MHz.

BIOS - Integrated Graphics Frequency Options

BIOS - Integrated Graphics Frequency Options

For BIOS settings, I set a CPU to DDR3 ratio of 200 to 2000. When external CPU clock (BCLK) is set over 166 ~ 175MHz, the built-in GPU becomes unstable. So if you want to push BCLK past 200MHz, external VGA is highly recommended. I found this issue when overclocking the Clarkdale; one possible reason is that the GPU is built in the CPU, so the design affects overclocking capability indirectly.

Testing platform:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-661 ES
  • MB: BIOSTAR TSERIES TH55XE
  • DRAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR-GT CMG6GX3M3A2000C8
  • VGA: Intel Clarkdale 900MHz
  • HD: CORSAIR CMFSSD-64GB2D
  • POWER: be quiet E7 Cable Management 480W
  • Cooler: Mega Shadow(Deluxe Edition)
  • OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit
Testing Platform

Testing Platform

BIOSTAR’s exclusive software Toverclocker is multifunctional OS software that allows the user to adjust external clock, voltage and performance modes from this program directly.

Biostar Toverclocker Software

BIOSTAR Toverclocker Utility

Biostart Toverclocker Hardware Monitor

BIOSTAR Toverclocker Utility - Hardware Monitor

The included software allows the user to change their boot logo directly; FOXCONN also had similar software before.

G.P.U Energy-saving software: it is suggested to disable this utility when overclocking to maintain system stability.

Biostar Software Options (Boot logo + GPU Energy Savings)

Biostar Software Options (Boot logo + GPU Energy Savings)

BIOSTAR now provides more and more software and professional functions as a big manufacturer should. From a software user’s perspective, I believe the BIOSTAR team should improve it as well as make it more user friendly.

Below are the tests results of the new Intel 32nm platform.
CPU uses Intel Core i5-661, 4 threading, clock is 3.33GHz, L3 Cache 4MB, GPU is 900 MHz, 87W, and official price is $196.

Default performance:

  • CPU 133 X 25 => 3333MHz
  • DRAM DDR3 1333 CL9 9-9-24 1T
  • GPU 900MHz 128mb

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 18m 00.891s
CPUMARK 99=> 550

Default Performance - Hyper Pi / CPUmark

Default Performance - Hyper Pi / CPUmark

Nuclearus Multi Core => 13523
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 13.07/6273

Nuclearus / Frtiz Chess Benchmark

Nuclearus / Frtiz Chess Benchmark

CrystalMark 2004R3 => 155768

CrystalMark 2004 R3

CINEBENCH R10
1 CPU=> 4832
x CPU=> 10794

Cinebench R10

Cinebench R10

PCMark Vantage => 10706

PCMark Vantage

PCMark Vantage

CPU voltage is only 0.948V when the system is in standby; the voltage rises to 1.128V when CPU is at full load. Additionally, with TurboBoost only a single core is used when the system is in standby and the CPU clock also rises to 3.6GHz. When both cores are in use, the CPU clock will change to 3.46GHz. In other words, under the condition of single core, CPU multiplier can be plus X2; with dual cores, plus X1.

The default CPU clock of Core i5 661 is very high, and the performance of the CPU is also great, suitable for non-conversion or drawing software. For most programs that do not support multi-tasking, CPU clock at this moment is more important.

3DVANTAGE => 486

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

StreetFighter IV Benchmark
1024 X 768 => 7011

Street Fighter 4

Street Fighter 4

Clarkdale shows similar performance in 3DMARK2006 and 3D to the 785G. However, without overclocking the H55 gets higher scores than the 785G in 3DMarkVANTAGE. StreetFighter IV also shows higher performance when comparing built in GPU products. The result shows Intel has made great progress in GPU design.

PSU is quiet in latest series E7 Cable Management, wattage is 480W

PSU

PSU

Module design makes it easier to place cables in order.

PSU Alternate

PSU Alternate

When H55 platform is used for word-processing and the like, a 350W PSU is enough to support the system. But if running a higher-performance VGA or if more hard drives are to be added in the future, a 400W ~ 500W PSU is recommended.

Test of power consumption
Standby: – 34~39W
When CPUZ displays 3600MHz, this condition means a single core is being used.

Power Consumption: Idle

Power Consumption: Idle

Full speed: – 79~89W
When CPUZ displays 3466MHz, this condition means 2 physical cores + 2 virtual HT cores are being used.

Power Consumption: Full

Power Consumption: Full

The combination of Intel Core i5 661 and H55 motherboard saves a lot of power; when the system is in standby mode, the lowest power consumption is only 34W. When the CPU is at full load at 3.46GHz, the range of power consumption is 79 ~ 89W; hence, the 32nm platform can save more power than ever. However, I also find that different PSUs bring dissimilar results: when the system is in standby, the power consumption is mostly 38 ~ 42W for common 400W PSUs; and, 34 ~ 36W for 480W PSU (80 PLUS also helps save energy).

OC performance

  • CPU 200 X 23 => 4600MHz
  • DRAM DDR3 2000 CL8 8-8-24 1T
  • GPU 900MHz 128mb

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 12m 49.813s
CPUMARK 99=> 709

Hyper Pi Overclocked

Hyper Pi Overclocked

Nuclearus Multi Core => 17945
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 17.69/8489

Nuclearus/Fritz Chess Benchmark: Overclocked

Nuclearus/Fritz Chess Benchmark: Overclocked

CrystalMark 2004R3 => 219569

CrystalMark: Overclocked

CrystalMark: Overclocked

CINEBENCH R10
1 CPU=> 6371
x CPU=> 14569

Cinebench R10: Overclocked

Cinebench R10: Overclocked

PCMark Vantage => 15076

PCMark Vantage: Overclocked

PCMark Vantage: Overclocked

When Core i5 661 is overclocked to 4.6GHz, a voltage of 1.3V can make the system stable. 32nm design helps the dual-core CPU total clock increase 300 ~ 500MHz further.

H55 does not provide RAID function, so I used a SSD to test transfer rate. CORSAIR CMFSSD-64GB2D, specification is 220/120 MB/s.

SSD Information

SSD Information

From the test of SSD with a high transfer rate, I find read/write performance of H55 is about 5 ~ 10MB/s less than ICH10R. One possible reason is standard error tolerance, or the performance of a single chipset could be lower. As result, H55 shows fine performance with HDDs.

GPU OC 1167MHz 128mb
3DVANTAGE => 563

3DMark Vantage: Overclocked

3DMark Vantage: Overclocked

StreetFighter IV Benchmark
1024 X 768 => 7455

Street Fighter 4: Overclocked

Street Fighter 4: Overclocked

Users can overclock built-in GPU by BIOS options. The GPU performance can be raised 15 ~ 20% when overclocked.

DRAM performance test

  • CPU 133 X 25 => 3333MHz
  • DRAM DDR3 1333 CL9 9-9-24 1T

Sandra Memory Bandwidth – 11709 MB/s

EVEREST Memory Read – 9259 MB/s

Everest: DDR3 1333

Everest/Sandra: DDR3 1333

  • CPU 200 X 23 => 4600MHz
  • DRAM DDR3 2000 CL8 8-8-24 1T

Sandra Memory Bandwidth – 17848 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read – 13613 MB/s

Everest/Sandra: DDR3 2000

Everest/Sandra: DDR3 2000

At DDR3 2000, the BIOS setting was CL8 but CPUZ shows CL9 and EVEREST shows CL10. I’m not sure why they are different but it is probably something related to a BIOS setting. Concerning DDR3 bandwidth performance, Clarkdale showed great results like P55 dual-channel or X58 tri-channel. Intel’s new built in memory controller can make the bandwidth of these new platforms 150%-250% faster than existing LGA 775 systems. It’s a pity not to able to take advantage of its high bandwidth infrastructure due to the GPU engine integrated inside the Clarkdale Core i5 processor.

Finally, add CPU voltage and attempt a high clock “5GHz” on air cooling

5Ghz on air cooling!

5Ghz on air cooling!

CPUZ certification
Intel Core i5 661 OC 5G / windwithme

To be able to boot into the OS at 5GHz, a range of 1.47-1.488V should be more than sufficient. If you want to use Super PI and that same level software, I think adding voltage up to 1.52 ~ 1.56V for CPU would be necessary. E8400~E8600 also can make CPU run at 4.8~4.9GHz, but voltage and temperature of 32nm are lower. In the future, if Intel makes 32nm better, overclocking a dual-core CPU to 5GHz will no longer be just a dream.

BIOSTAR T-Series TH55XE
Pros:
1. The high quality and looks of the package design.
2. The range of BIOS voltage settings is wide; external clock and other options are also plentiful.
3. Power consumption of H55 platform is very low.
4. Overclocking can make CPU/DDR3 reach a steady 200/2000 level.
5. CPU power stability is helped by better phase design.

Cons:
1. The price of all H55 motherboards is still too high right now.
2. Due to Intel’s structural design, i5 CPUs with a built-in GPU can not show good performance with DDR3.

Biostart T-Series TH55XE

Biostart T-Series TH55XE

The price of most H55 motherboards is about $130 and the price of BIOSTAR T-Series TH55XE is only about $117. But I think the price of the H55 chipset is still too high. If its price can be reduced to $100, the product would become much more popular.

About Clarkdale CPU, there will be both Core i5 6XX and Core i3 5XX series. The main difference whether or not they support TurboBoost. I found some price quotes about this kind of CPU from other websites:

  • Core i5 6XX: $176~$284
  • Core i3 530/540:  $113/$133 respectively
  • Intel Pentium G9650 without HT technology is $87

My personal opinion on the “all in one motherboard” platform is, at the initial price of the CPU, consumers can accept would about US$90 ~ 110. Therefore, Core i3 530 and Pentium G9650 are the products that can fit in with most consumers’ budget.

Supported by 32nm new technology, the CPU has higher clocks, lower temperatures and lower power consumption when compared with 45nm, all of which makes a great impression on me. But at a starting price that is just too high, Intel still leaves something to be desired to make its products accepted by more consumers. It’s nice to see Intel is also releasing higher performance all-in-one chipsets, rather than only AMD.  Although current Clarkdale cost-for-performance value is not high, Intel finally makes great progress in this product field in 2010. I also expect the equivalent of this new platform is coming soon. The release of Clarkdale provides one more choice in the market, and makes the performance of Intel all in one chipset better for the future.

And again, I truly appreciate all your support, feedback, or even one simple comment; that gives me the power and encourages me to continue sharing.

-windwithme

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Discussion
  1. ChinStrap
    Great PICS!!! thank you for sharing! :)


    He must have a professional camera, those pics were crystal clear. Might make one poster size for my wall!

    :rock:

    Great insight windwithme!

    Matt