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GT3e in action: the Core i7-4950HQ
I said earlier that Intel won't be offering a socketed version of Haswell with GT3 graphics and eDRAM. That's unfortunate, but we do have an opportunity to see what we're missing. Intel has loaned us one of its own test platforms so we can get a look at an Iris Pro graphics solution. Here's a peek inside.

The CPU sitting under that puny little cooler is a Core i7-4950HQ, the top model in a five-part lineup of H-series CPUs. These processors are targeted primarily at larger laptops that might otherwise incorporate a discrete Radeon or GeForce GPU. I suspect we may see these H-series CPUs popping up in some desktop all-in-one configs, as well. Here's a look at the 4950HQ's basic specs.

Model Cores/
threads
Base
clock
Max
1-core
Turbo
clock
Max
4-core
Turbo
clock
L3
cache
HD
Graphics
Max
graphics
clock
TDP Price
Core i7-4950HQ 4/8 2.4GHz 3.6GHz 3.4GHz 6MB Iris Pro 5200 1300MHz 47W $657

In spite of its relatively modest power budget and 2.4GHz base clock, the 4950HQ's Turbo frequencies are pretty aggressive. In fact, they're only 200-300MHz shy of the usual operating clocks for the speediest socketed 84W Haswell, the Core i7-4770K. With its Iris Pro graphics and 128MB eDRAM cache, the 4950HQ could very well be the most capable integrated graphics solution we've ever seen. We've tested it against various other Intel IGPs, the desktop version of AMD's Trinity APU, and a low-end discrete graphics card, the Radeon HD 6570 with GDDR5 memory. Through the magic of re-branding, this card is very similar to one of AMD's mobile GPU models, the Radeon HD 7670M, and should offer a nice basis for comparison.

Since we have it on hand, I've also elected to run the 4950HQ though our entire CPU test suite, to see how its enormous L4 cache impacts performance in CPU-centric workloads. That should be fun.

You'll notice I haven't included the 4950HQ system in our testing methods table. This test mule setup is a little weird, with a simulated battery and SO-DIMMs. Still, the end result is actually fairly similar to our other test systems, with 16GB of DDR3-1600 memory and a 240GB SSD running our standard Win8 Pro disk image.

Test notes
Every so often, we throw out all of our old CPU test results and start over with refreshed hardware and software. Haswell's launch is a natural breaking point, so we took the opportunity to revise just about everything. We have retained the XFX Radeon HD 7950 graphics cards that we used last time around, since they're still quite current. We've hung on to our Corsair AX650 modular PSUs, too.


Above is a shot of our Haswell test rig, one of the many systems here in Damage Labs that made this comparison possible. The motherboard is an Asus Z87-Pro, an enthusiast-class Haswell mobo. Thermaltake provided the CPU cooler, the NiC C5; it'll dissipate up to 230W and avoids the DIMM clearance issues that some big tower coolers have. Corsair supplied the DIMMs, a pair of Vengeance Pro 8GB modules capable of running at 2400 MT/s at 1.65V.


Finally, peeking out from under the motherboard is a 240GB HyperX SSD from Kingston. Our older 128GB drives were getting too cramped once we installed the latest games. These new 240GB drives give us some room to breathe, while dramatically reducing the time it takes to reboot our systems between tests.

Our testing methods
We ran every test at least three times and reported the median of the scores produced.

The test systems were configured like so:

Processor AMD FX-8350 AMD A10-5800K Core i7-2600K
Core i7-3770K
Core i7-4770K
Motherboard Asus Crosshair V Formula MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 Asus P8Z77-V Pro Asus Z87-Pro
North bridge 990FX A85 FCH Z77 Express Z87 Express
South bridge SB950
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type AMD Performance
Series
DDR3 SDRAM
AMD Performance
Edition
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance Pro
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance Pro
DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 1600 MT/s 1600 MT/s 1600 MT/s 1600 MT/s
Memory timings 9-9-9-24 1T 9-9-9-24 1T 9-9-9-24 1T 9-9-9-24 1T
Chipset
drivers
AMD chipset 13.4 AMD chipset 13.4 INF update 9.4.0.1017
iRST 12.5.0.1066
INF update 9.4.0.1017
iRST 12.5.0.1066
Audio Integrated
SB950/ALC889 with
Realtek 6.0.1.6873 drivers
Integrated
A85/ALC892 with
Realtek 6.0.1.6873 drivers
Integrated
Z77/ALC892 with
Realtek 6.0.1.6873 drivers
Integrated
Z87/ALC1150 with
Realtek 6.0.1.6873 drivers
OpenCL ICD AMD APP 1124.2 AMD APP 1124.2 Intel SDK for
OpenCL 2013
Intel SDK for
OpenCL 2013
IGP drivers - Catalyst 13.5 beta 2 Intel 9.18.10.3177 Intel 9.18.10.3177

They all shared the following common elements:

Hard drive Kingston HyperX SH103S3 240GB SSD
Discrete graphics XFX Radeon HD 7950 Double Dissipation 3GB with Catalyst 13.5 beta 2 drivers
OS Windows 8 Pro
Power supply Corsair AX650

Thanks to Corsair, XFX, Kingston, MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, Intel, and AMD for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. Thanks to Intel and AMD for providing the processors, as well, of course.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our testing methods:

  • The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1920x1080 in 32-bit color. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled in the graphics driver control panel.
  • We used a Yokogawa WT210 digital power meter to capture power use over a span of time. The meter reads power use at the wall socket, so it incorporates power use from the entire system—the CPU, motherboard, memory, graphics solution, hard drives, and anything else plugged into the power supply unit. (The monitor was plugged into a separate outlet.) We measured how each of our test systems used power across a set time period, during which time we encoded a video with x264.
  • After consulting with our readers, we've decided to enable Windows' "Balanced" power profile for the bulk of our desktop processor tests, which means power-saving features like SpeedStep and Cool'n'Quiet are operating. (In the past, we only enabled these features for power consumption testing.) Our spot checks demonstrated to us that, typically, there's no performance penalty for enabling these features on today's CPUs. If there is a real-world penalty to enabling these features, well, we think that's worthy of inclusion in our measurements, since the vast majority of desktop processors these days will spend their lives with these features enabled.

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.