How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Discussion of all forms of processors, from AMD to Intel to VIA.

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How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:38 pm

Four years ago, I bought a Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz base, I'm not sure what with the clock boost, quad core. TR's most recent guide recommends a Core i5-4670K @ 3.4GHz, or the 4770K @ 3.5 GHz.

Now I know it's not just clock speed that's improving, and the newer chips are getting more done per cycle. But how much more, really? I'm starting to think about building another computer this year or next, but I don't really know that it's worth it. I'll definitely need a graphics card to replace my GTX 460, but I just don't know what a new CPU and RAM are going to do for me.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:43 pm

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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:43 pm

The first question is what speed are your running the i750? if you are extremely lucky and can run it well into the 4.4+ GHz range without a ton of extra voltage, then a new CPU and motherboard is kind of a waste in my mind if you don't need the other features a new platform brings.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:55 pm

jossie wrote:This gives some idea:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/109?vs=837


So... between 50% to 100% improvement in performance between a 950 and a 4670k. OP is on the right track. I think that turns out to be less than a tenth of one percent of performance gain per day over the last 4 years. Unacceptable.

On a serious note, I'm in the same boat as OP: I am on a 920 and I am itching to do a new build. Although the CPU performance gains are more than significant, what I am really yearning for is the SSD caching and lower wattage that a new intel system would give me. I don't have a budget to deck out my system with a large array of SSDs because I spent all my money on energy @0.40-0.44 $/KWh. In addition to this, newer intel chipsets have support for HDDs >2TB in raids, PCIe 3, USB3, sata3, and the mobos allow for much more options in fine tuning cpu voltages. Tuning my 920 feels like Im hammering it with a wrench while tuning my dad's 2500k feels like I am calibrating a fine scientific instrument. Maybe my short list of features that I am looking forward to will help OP make a decision.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:48 pm

An SSD is definitely in my future, I just don't think 256 GB is enough, and $500 is too much. I'm very practiced at playing the waiting game. I'm just not sure what I'm waiting for at this point. Another quad core mid 3 GHz CPU?
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:39 am

Entroper wrote:An SSD is definitely in my future, I just don't think 256 GB is enough, and $500 is too much.
Depending on your case and your operating system, a compromise may be in order. I have a 120 GB SSD for my Mac OS boot drive, and a 3 TB WD Green for my data drive. A bit of under-the-hood tweaking means the 3TB drive is mounted on /Users, and everything is sweet.

Windows should be able to do something similar, but I haven't played around with it enough to tell you how (and the features I'm thinking of may be gimped in the lower end versions.) Linux does it very naturally.

I find that this setup is more than fast enough for my needs. As always, your mileage may vary.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:15 am

Entroper wrote:An SSD is definitely in my future, I just don't think 256 GB is enough, and $500 is too much. I'm very practiced at playing the waiting game. I'm just not sure what I'm waiting for at this point. Another quad core mid 3 GHz CPU?


Very few people use only a SSD for this very reason.

It is common to install Windows on the SSD as well as most programs. Anything else (including games) can be put on the normal hard drive. While it would be possible to mount that hard drive as the windows equivalent of the "User" folder, I believe most people just move all the user folders to that drive.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:18 am

rookiebeotch wrote:
jossie wrote:This gives some idea:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/109?vs=837


So... between 50% to 100% improvement in performance between a 950 and a 4670k. OP is on the right track. I think that turns out to be less than a tenth of one percent of performance gain per day over the last 4 years. Unacceptable.

On a serious note, I'm in the same boat as OP: I am on a 920 and I am itching to do a new build. Although the CPU performance gains are more than significant, what I am really yearning for is the SSD caching and lower wattage that a new intel system would give me. I don't have a budget to deck out my system with a large array of SSDs because I spent all my money on energy @0.40-0.44 $/KWh. In addition to this, newer intel chipsets have support for HDDs >2TB in raids, PCIe 3, USB3, sata3, and the mobos allow for much more options in fine tuning cpu voltages. Tuning my 920 feels like Im hammering it with a wrench while tuning my dad's 2500k feels like I am calibrating a fine scientific instrument. Maybe my short list of features that I am looking forward to will help OP make a decision.


I suggest you and the OP look into the LGA 2011 group of systems. the 8 RAM slots open up some amazing possibilities like RAMcashe and RAMdisk. the 3820 and 3930k both offer more power, more PCIe lanes and vastly improved overclocking and stability enhancements that I didn't think was actually possible to achieve via chip-set design. With the direction that both Microsoft and Intel have decided to go, chances are that this particular lineup has some staying power and will offer a substantial value over a 920, 950 or (fairly obviously) 750...

32GB of Ram is enough for a 10GB ram disk (to install any game you want to play) a 10GB ram cashe (which is really 5x what you need) and still have 12GB of ram leftover as actual ram. its pretty ridiculous. you can even setup your ram-disk to dump and reload the same files (if you tend to play the same video-game nonstop for a month, for instance). Meanwhile most of the 3930ks can be set to 4.3 or 4.5ghz easily with no special cooling. 16x PCIe slots means that the GPUs have all the breathing room they need as well. I'm kindof in love with my system.

the only downside (aside from cost) is that sandy is old. going on 3 years, and there is no real way to know what the 4820 and 4930 will bring in terms of improving the platform, but they do come out in September.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:03 am

Entroper wrote:An SSD is definitely in my future, I just don't think 256 GB is enough, and $500 is too much. I'm very practiced at playing the waiting game. I'm just not sure what I'm waiting for at this point. Another quad core mid 3 GHz CPU?


I'm currently running one of these (not as a boot drive though, but if I did not have my smaller faster drive, I would not mind using it that much)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820147190

It's a fairly snappy drive, even if it has a much lower write speed than the pro edition, and still an order of magnitude higher than a standard HDD.
Decent storage space with nice access speed, it's no 4TB monster, but it's far more useable than the 128's or 256's, especially for games.
The only downside would be the lifespan, as this is 3 bits per cell tech, it's going to (potentially) die a lot sooner than an equivalent MLC drive.

Just keep playing the waiting game with the TLC nand, eventually the $ per GB will drop to something far more reasonable.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:31 am

Phaydren wrote:
Entroper wrote:It's a fairly snappy drive...


its a VERY snappy drive
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:27 am

CPUs have had some improvements to make them faster and more efficient at doing things. Intel hasn't had any real competition is the Desktop/Workstation arena and are really no longer interested in making it faster. Instead they are interested in giving more features that people can actually use inside their chipsets. It has a pro and con attached to it however. I think Intel knows that they no longer have to strive to be faster. They can just inch themselves up while AMD tries to catch up.

Honestly, by looking at those CPUs in general, Intel is focusing on the IGP, hence it's roughly double performance each processor release. Of course after all Intel is playing catch up with the IGP so it makes sense why the performance is roughly double in some applications.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:17 am

CPU's haven't really made enough of a change since Sandy or even Lynnfield to justify an upgrade on CPU alone.

I tend to justify upgrades based on changes to everyday performance. What you're likely to get with a new build is 6Gb/s SATA III ports, a Windows boot manager, UEFI BIOS, options for things like Intel SmartResponse SSD cacheing, USB3, better audio solutions than older boards, and possibly things like Thunderbolt/IGP-Displayport/Quicksync may interest you.

In other words, don't look at just the CPU component of an upgrade - since that'll make very little difference unless you're the sort of person who is constantly running all four of your i5-750's threads at full load. Instead look at it as a platform upgrade that gives you a faster subsystems, up-to-date ports/slots, and a 50-100% faster processor upgrade all at once.

Certainly, I'm tempted to move off an old platform for my second box at home just to get the combined benefit of SATAIII, UEFI BIOS and it's related Windows Boot Manager (or Intel Rapid Start, whatever silly label it's given by your motherboard of choice).
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:17 pm

Entroper wrote:Four years ago, I bought a Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz base, I'm not sure what with the clock boost, quad core. TR's most recent guide recommends a Core i5-4670K @ 3.4GHz, or the 4770K @ 3.5 GHz.

Now I know it's not just clock speed that's improving, and the newer chips are getting more done per cycle. But how much more, really? I'm starting to think about building another computer this year or next, but I don't really know that it's worth it. I'll definitely need a graphics card to replace my GTX 460, but I just don't know what a new CPU and RAM are going to do for me.


The one thing that you can rely on is that the longer you wait to upgrade the cheaper the higher performance will be.

My main machine comprises of an i7-990x and I recently built a NAS box based on an A8-5600K and when just doing the normal stuff I do every day I don't notice any difference between them.

The question you have to ask yourself is if you are finding yourself being held back in any way by the system you have. If the answer to the question is no, then don't bother upgrading. I would suggest to you that you might think of building yourself a cheap second machine just to keep you going if and when your main machine breaks down and you feel the need to replace it.

This is one of the reasons why I built up the NAS based on an A8-5600K; it does everything I need and it is fully configured to take over if I have any down time. Another reason is that I have time to look around, get the best deals for the hardware (the amount you save will be more than the price of that cheap system), and will not have to make any foul compromises because of price.

For instance I got a bargain price on a Corsair AX860 PSU and I saw the same company had gotten in new batch that they were offering for the same price yesterday. So I immediately bought another one - the company realised their mistake and just after I had bought it, when I looked back again they had raised the price by over $30. They have to honour the sale though. You will very often find good deals like this on hardware you will be guaranteed to use on future builds, if you are in no hurry to change.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:01 pm

I think one thing being overlooked in all of this is the argument for Sandy bridge and beyond is (not overclocked) RAM speeds. Most first gen Intel Core series CPUs are 1066 whereas 2nd, 3rd nd 4th are 1333. In applications that are more memory intensive you gain performance there.

I bought my Sandybridge system a little late to the show and don't regret it at all. However I do regret not having bought an SSD even yet for my system. I've built a few dozen machines for people with an SSD since my rig was built and let me tell you that its night and day different. If your waiting for SSD prices and capacity to be more favorable... Then don't buy a new computer until your ready to outfit it with one. Typical HDDs degrade the performance enough to make it feel like it negates any benefits you'd have from a CPU or RAM upgrade.

Hope this helps.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:25 pm

Nec_V20 wrote:My main machine comprises of an i7-990x and I recently built a NAS box based on an A8-5600K and when just doing the normal stuff I do every day I don't notice any difference between them.

Exactly. When you can get a fast quad-core CPU for under $100, you've already reached the point where CPU performance ceases to be a factor for the majority of desktop use cases.

Welch wrote:I think one thing being overlooked in all of this is the argument for Sandy bridge and beyond is (not overclocked) RAM speeds. Most first gen Intel Core series CPUs are 1066 whereas 2nd, 3rd nd 4th are 1333. In applications that are more memory intensive you gain performance there.

But again, just like with CPU power, unless a lot of your usage is one of those memory intensive apps, existing RAM is more than fast enough. And even for a memory intensive app, a 25% boost in RAM speed is probably going to translate to just a few percent boost in real-world application performance.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:14 am

Welch wrote:I think one thing being overlooked in all of this is the argument for Sandy bridge and beyond is (not overclocked) RAM speeds. Most first gen Intel Core series CPUs are 1066 whereas 2nd, 3rd nd 4th are 1333. In applications that are more memory intensive you gain performance there.

I bought my Sandybridge system a little late to the show and don't regret it at all. However I do regret not having bought an SSD even yet for my system. I've built a few dozen machines for people with an SSD since my rig was built and let me tell you that its night and day different. If your waiting for SSD prices and capacity to be more favorable... Then don't buy a new computer until your ready to outfit it with one. Typical HDDs degrade the performance enough to make it feel like it negates any benefits you'd have from a CPU or RAM upgrade.

Hope this helps.


I feel like an idiot. What you wrote was so obvious that I totally overlooked it. I have gotten so used to having an SSD as my boot drive that I could not imagine anyone NOT having one.

The only time I notice it is when I am working on someone else's machine and quite often I am convinced that Windows is hanging and am tempted to reboot but then wait just a bit longer and the boot process completes.

For a boot drive and all the really necessary items (Browser, Office package etc.) a 64GB SSD is perfectly adequate. If one wants the optimal performance from a range of SSDs (such as the Samsung 840 Pro) then one should buy either a 256 (or 240) or 512 (480) GB version because the controller can then optimally work with the NAND chips.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:42 am

I upgraded from an i5 750 @ 4.0 GHz to an i7 3820 x79/SB-E ($489 shipped from NewEgg.ca with x79 motherboard). It feels a good deal smoother in more demanding games like BF3, even at stock speeds.

However, I think you are more GPU limited than CPU limited with an i5 750 and GTX 460.

Try upgrading to a GTX 760 or 770 ( or 7950 / 7970 if you like red kool-aid) and see how that feels. If you feel like you still have some stutters caused by your CPU, then maybe it is time for a platform update.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:34 am

I mostly play StarCraft II, which is the only game I get performance issues on.

Now, I haven't tried FRAPS, but I haven't had stuttering problems in the following games (single-player only):
Battlefield 3 Ultra settings.
Tomb Raider Ultra (getting rid of TressFX Hair makes any other setting combo smooth as butter).
Bioshock Infinite.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon Ultra with 4x MSAA and I think I had to drop the depth of field to 89 (the value "90" doesn't take, for some reason).

These are some popular games, and my CPU's are really old (2006). Basically my 2 Xeon 5160's perform like an overclocked Q6600.

StarCraft II is an insanely-programmed, heavily-single-threaded game that doesn't tax video cards quite so much as it does pretty much any CPU ever made. The newer Intel CPU's have roughly twice the single-threaded performance of my CPU's, so even then I'd be stuck at 20FPS in a worst-case scenario (2v2 with motherships involved). Currently my FPS never dips below 10, but is usually 30-40 (2v2 average FPS) and 50-60 (1v1 average FPS). This is with V-sync turned on, so I don't know how much beyond 60FPS I get during weak times. Maybe I should turn V-sync off.

IMO every single CPU benchmark that involves games should include a StarCraft 2 +mothership usage benchmark. There never was a better test of single threaded performance. And replays make consistent benchmarks very easy to reproduce, and tax the CPU even more when you fast forward them.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:10 pm

Star Brood wrote:The newer Intel CPU's have roughly twice the single-threaded performance of my CPU's....IMO every single CPU benchmark that involves games should include a StarCraft 2 +mothership usage benchmark. There never was a better test of single threaded performance

Here's some data to back up your claim. I know it's Toms and all, and they use average FPS, but...they use SC2. Here's another with AMD included.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:50 pm

Star Brood wrote:I mostly play StarCraft II, which is the only game I get performance issues on.

Now, I haven't tried FRAPS, but I haven't had stuttering problems in the following games (single-player only):
Battlefield 3 Ultra settings.
Tomb Raider Ultra (getting rid of TressFX Hair makes any other setting combo smooth as butter).
Bioshock Infinite.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon Ultra with 4x MSAA and I think I had to drop the depth of field to 89 (the value "90" doesn't take, for some reason).

These are some popular games, and my CPU's are really old (2006). Basically my 2 Xeon 5160's perform like an overclocked Q6600.

StarCraft II is an insanely-programmed, heavily-single-threaded game that doesn't tax video cards quite so much as it does pretty much any CPU ever made. The newer Intel CPU's have roughly twice the single-threaded performance of my CPU's, so even then I'd be stuck at 20FPS in a worst-case scenario (2v2 with motherships involved). Currently my FPS never dips below 10, but is usually 30-40 (2v2 average FPS) and 50-60 (1v1 average FPS). This is with V-sync turned on, so I don't know how much beyond 60FPS I get during weak times. Maybe I should turn V-sync off.

IMO every single CPU benchmark that involves games should include a StarCraft 2 +mothership usage benchmark. There never was a better test of single threaded performance. And replays make consistent benchmarks very easy to reproduce, and tax the CPU even more when you fast forward them.


Here's a little trick you can use to help you with StarCraft II

1) Go to http://www.koma-code.de/?option=com_content&task=view&id=88&Itemid=93 and download "CPU Control"

2) Go into the BIOS and disable HyperThreading

3) Load CPU Control and assign all the running processes to one of the cores (CPU0)

4) Load Starcraft II and then tab out to "CPU Control"

5) Assign the game to one of the other CPUs (CPU1 for instance)

6) The configuration will only last until the next reboot when everything will return to normal. You can save the configuration though.

You should now find that the game plays more smoothly for you.

It's an old trick and the ability to "Assign Affinity" of a process to a single CPU (or core) has been around since WinNT4 (I know it has since NT4 but I can't remember if it was implemented in 3.51).

If the L2 Cache is being shared by two cores on a quad core then assign all the processes to CPU0 and CPU1 then then assign the game to CPU2.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:10 pm

Thanks - if I were to use that, I would probably assign the system processes to my upper processor (which gets hotter due to air-cooled heat sinks and thermodynamics) and assign StarCraft II to my lower processor. That way I dedicate the best resources to the game. I may try that later today just to toy around with it and see if it improves performance, and get back to you with the results.
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Re: How much faster have CPUs really gotten in 4 years?

Postposted on Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:54 pm

Star Brood wrote:Thanks - if I were to use that, I would probably assign the system processes to my upper processor (which gets hotter due to air-cooled heat sinks and thermodynamics) and assign StarCraft II to my lower processor. That way I dedicate the best resources to the game. I may try that later today just to toy around with it and see if it improves performance, and get back to you with the results.


Essentially what you are doing is giving the game complete control over the L2 Cache and thus the game will not be interrupted by another process and thus the L2 Cache being dirtied and data having to be loaded again from the much slower RAM.

This is why I know it will speed up your game.
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