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Since Intel's Core i7 is cherry-picked during the binning process, does that make them better than the Core i3 or i5 for general performance and gaming?

Question asked by Reece from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs Content | Posted: Dec 31, 2012 2:16 am

This is sort of a long question (well, short question with a lot of background info), so get ready for a read.


Most people say an i5 is exactly the same for gaming performance as an i7, because very few games can even utilize more than two cores, and no games currently need more than two cores to run, so the extra 4 threads are useless. That is true.


However, Intel's binning process involves selecting the badly deformed chips, and putting an i3 or lesser name on them. Cache is usually the deformed part. Slightly deformed chips are put into the i5 category, and near-perfect chips are given the i7 name. Since the i7's are binned higher, this means they've formed more perfectly. Doesn't logic follow that if they i7's have formed more perfectly, the cores can achieve higher clockspeeds? I know that usually the cache is deformed, so all an i7 guarantees is better cache, but there's also a strong chance, though no guarantee, of higher clockspeed tolerance.


For example, my i5 can only go up to 4.6GHz, no matter how much voltage I apply. However, most people's i7's can go up to at least 4.8GHz, if not 5GHz. I admit, I have seem i5's go up to 5GHz, and i7's stop at 4.5GHz, but I see way more 5GHz i7's than i5's. Since clocks can be pushed further, doesn't that mean single-core performance, and thus gaming performance increases with an i7?

Reece, first of all, thanks for a brilliant question.


Now let's get into it - two parted answer here. Intel's binning process is mostly about - as you said - making the chips that can handle the cache and clock speeds formed into the higher-end Core i7. The ones that don't handle the cache and are deformed, are pushed down the line and turned into a Core i5. The worst of which are turned into Core i3's.




Most Core i7's can handle huge overclocks, personally I have my Core i7 3770K sitting at 5GHz stable. But then you've got to bring in Hyper-Threading to the conversation, which I disable to give me slighter higher clock speeds, while using less voltage and giving more stability while running cooler. Hyper-Threading is great for those pushing core-intensive applications, but games? Nowhere near as much.


I think a 4.5GHz quad-core processor is all anyone would need for gaming, as CPU speed starts to decline in terms of how much performance improvement it will offer after the mid-4GHz mark. If you were running a 3- or 4-way GPU setup, with multi-monitor tech like Eyefinity or Surround Vision, then the CPU speed will help another bit - but not that much. It would be better to have voltages lower and have 4.5GHz than crank the voltages higher to achieve 5GHz.


Now, the second part - how does this help in games? Well, my Core i7 at 4GHz or 5GHz offers no visible change in frame rates or load times. These days, I have my CPU cranked up to 5GHz "because I can", not because it offers visible performance improvements. I just like to remove performance bottlenecks - so if it's capable of 5GHz, then it sits there. My old Core i7 860 used to sit at 4GHz and I see no difference between that first-gen chip and this third-gen chip with the extra 1000MHz.


But, the single-core performance (without HT) is better with a Core i7 overclocked than it would be with a Core i3. This all depends on how CPU-intensive the task is, as games only use up to four cores anyway. This will change next year when next-gen consoles arrive, which should hopefully sport more than four cores, which I'm predicting will have 6 cores with some HT-like technology.


The other benefit now is that Core i7's are not that much more than decent Core i5's... which makes the decision that much easier.

I just upgraded from my Dell 27-inch monitor to an LG 42-inch TV and experience lag - why is that?

Question asked by Jeff from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Displays & Projectors Content | Posted: Dec 28, 2012 5:46 am

I recently upgraded My Dell 27 Inch monitor for an LG 42 inch 1080p TV. This did not make my wife very happy but then again she doesn't Borderland 2. It seems to work fine with all the extra stuff turned off but there is some game lag.

Hi Jeff,


What you're experiencing is actually motion input lag, which is usually caused by the image processing technology in your TV. This can include the higher refresh rates, motion or edge smoothing and other features. This takes a few microseconds to happen, and adds "lag" to the game.




So you might press W, A, S, or D and it will feel like it's taking longer for it to respond. When moving the mouse, it will feel like there's lag on the screen - but it's just lag on your input method. This is why controllers on consoles feel so much slower to operate in a first-person shooter than a 60/120Hz monitor on PC using a mouse.


The response time on an LCD monitor is much better than most TVs because of this - so to go from your Dell 27-inch monitor to the LG 42-inch HDTV, it's actually a step backward in quality (if quality is lag/response), but an upgrade in physical screen size.


This is why I personally use 120Hz-based monitors for my first-person shooter gaming. I have the latest Samsung 55-inch Smart TV, and while it's a lot better than most TVs out there in terms of input lag, it doesn't even begin to compare to a proper LCD monitor.




One of our great readers Justin, made a very good point about enabling a "Game" mode on the TV. Jeff replied saying that this, along with some other tweaks he made, made a huge improvement in his experience.

I want to buy a new tablet and would like some advice

Question asked by Nikki from United Kingdom (Great Britain) | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Mobile Devices Content | Posted: Dec 27, 2012 4:47 am

Hi there,


I am wanting to buy a tablet but have no idea what sort!


I want one for the usual; surfing the web, emails, FB, photos, movies etc, but I'd ideally like one with at least Microsoft Word, or a way I can record/write anything I need to, a good variety of apps, adequate memory and speed.....and if I was really to be demanding a USB port (but that is not a 'must have').


I'd appreciate any advice on options, cost is not really an issue, but nothing too unreasonable (probably 600 pounds max :)


Thanks in advance,



Hi Nikki,


There is probably one best answer here for the tablet you're after, and that would be Microsoft's iPad competitor, the Surface tablet. They've only started arriving in the UK, where I've read that Surface is available at John Lewis, in both 32GB and 64GB editions.




The Microsoft Surface 32GB is 399 pounds and you can get it right here.. Surface comes with a single, full-sized USB port which can take most USB devices on the market which makes it a much more versatile tablet than the iPad, or most competitors' tablets.


What you want to do on it, can easily be achieved - email, Facebook, photos, movies and more. Word is available on Surface, where most other tablets don't have Word yet. The USB port that you want, but isn't a must have, is a default on the Surface which makes it the all-round hero here.

My son's Xbox 360 DVD drive isn't opening

Question asked by Bonnie from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Gaming Content | Posted: Dec 23, 2012 3:51 am

My sons Xbox door is not opening, why is it doing that?

Hi Bonnie,


There could be a few reasons why it's not opening - first, the DVD drive itself could be faulty. Maybe it's a power- or motor-related issue, and it won't work until it's fixed. Another option is that there could be a disc (or more) jammed inside and it won't open.




I took a search for this and came up with a few results, and hopefully some help for you. This one is directly from Xbox Support, and shows you how to manually eject your Xbox 360 optical disc tray.


The one below is from YouTube, and shows you how to open up a stuck Xbox 360 DVD drive.



If these methods don't work, try a console repair shop.

I'm building a flight simulator with 28 screens, what GPUs should I go for?

Question asked by Elton from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards Content | Posted: Dec 20, 2012 12:29 am

Hi, I'm building a flight sim that uses 28 screens. The most graphics cards you can fit on a motherboard is 4, with the best offering at most 5 outputs per card. If cost is absolutely not a factor, how do I get enough graphics cards running to generate all of the DIFFERENT screens?

Hi Elton,


This is actually a great question! Now, I can't guarantee any of this as I haven't tried it myself, but I know that you can daisy chain two DisplayPort monitors from a single miniDisplay Port connection. This means you can go for 4-way CrossFire X on Radeon HD 7970s and enjoy 24 screens. Obviously you'd need a motherboard capable of 4-way CrossFire and a CPU overclocked enough to give you the benefit of pushing all of those GPUs as well as a good enough PSU and cooling throughout your case.




I would go with XFX Double D FX-797A-TDBC Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition 3GB, which NewEgg sell for $419.99 and then you'd need two of Sapphire's VID 2X Display Expanders. The VID 2X connects to a single miniDP port and gives you two DisplayPort outputs. This will give you:


4 display outputs through Sapphire's VID 2X

2 display outputs from DVI.


This means you'll have to be careful on what monitors you buy - as you'll need a bunch that are DisplayPort-capable, as well as DVI-capable. I would recommend buying one GPU, and 6 displays first - trying it all out and making sure it works, then continue on and buying 3 more GPUs and the rest of the screens.


But this Ask the Experts is going to be different - I think you should write something up (if you have the time) on your journey, with a bunch of pictures and videos if possible and we'll make a news story out of it if you like? If so, e-mail me (anthonygarreffa AT tweaktown DOT com) and we can talk about it.


I think it'll be an awesome experience, and something people will really love to read. 28 screens!!! 4 GPUs!!! The things dreams are made of!

I'm upgrading my system but need some help with the motherboard choice!

Question asked by Sahil from India | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Motherboards Content | Posted: Dec 19, 2012 4:40 am



I am going to upgrade my system this Christmas, I have chosen the Core i5 3570k and gskill 8GB (4gb*2)


Now the most difficult part: to choose the MOTHERBOARD


I have shortlisted to the following boards:


1) ASUS Z77 sabertooth = $309(in Indian price)

2) MSI Z77 MPOWER = $272

3) ASRock Z77 OC Formula = $309

4) ASUS Maximus V Gene (

Hi Sahil,


This is an answer that will change from person to person, and I'll probably get flak for not giving you a specific answer that others were looking for, but unless you're throwing in a bunch of GPUs and other hardware, a decent motherboard is all you need.




The MSI Z77 MPOWER board is great value for money and offers some great performance, too. It has everything you need for high-end performance, USB 3.0, tonnes of SATA ports and more.


Alternatively, the ASRock Z77 OC Formula is also a great board, but the real statement that needs to be made here is that all of those boards on your list are going to kick ass in your system. You can choose any of them, and you'll have a great system and you'll have a great time with those boards. If it was my decision, I'd spend the least amount of money - and whatever you have left over could spring for an SSD drive if you don't already have one.

I have around $450 to spend on my PC, what should I upgrade? My CPU or GPU?

Question asked by Luke from United Kingdom (Great Britain) | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards Content | Posted: Dec 18, 2012 5:19 am

Hi I want to upgrade my system I don't know whether to upgrade gpu or cpu as game a lot at the moment I have an a8-5500 cpu with a 650 ti gpu and an ssd which component should I upgrade and also I have £300 to spend could you recommend either a cpu plus motherboard or a gpu depending on what you say I should upgrade. please bare in mind if you say about cpu and recommend a cpu don't forget I will most probably have to buy a new motherboard as well so if you recommend upgrading cpu you also recommend a motherboard which make a combined price of £300 or less.



Hi Luke,


You already have a new-ish CPU and an SSD, so I would suggest a GPU upgrade. For £300, you could get yourself a decent GPU upgrade like the 3GB XFX Radeon HD 7950 Double D GPU, which is £220.55 at Scan.




This is way under your budget, and even if you wanted to spend more, you can go for the 3GB ASUS Radeon HD 7950 DirectCU II TOP V2 for £304.86. Obviously this is a little over budget, but it is ASUS' best HD 7950 GPU and has some insane overclocks and an even more insane cooling system.


My preference would be the XFX GPU for £220.55 and you could spend the extra money saved on a bigger/faster SSD maybe?

What are the benefits of SLI/CrossFire for a single screen setup?

Question asked by Jeremy from Australia | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards Content | Posted: Dec 17, 2012 1:31 am

What benefit does SLI/crossfire have on a single screen set up?

Hi Jeremy,


There are a few different benefits, for gaming it would be frame rates. Let's break this down into a few categories: 2560x1600, 1920x1080 and low resolutions (1280x720, 1600x900, etc). Then we have 120Hz screens and 60Hz screens.




The 120Hz/60Hz thing is all about frame rates - trying to keep your frame rate locked to the refresh rate of your monitor. So on a normal 60Hz screen, your image in-game will look best at above 60 frames per second, and 120Hz obviously translates into 120 frames per second.


I could go on forever in those frame rate discussions, but let's say you're running a 1920x1080 display. A multi-GPU setup like Radeon HD 7970's in CrossFire would provide much more than 60fps in every game on the market right now at maximum detail. Then we'll need to talk anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing will really tax frame rates, which is where bandwidth on-GPU and copious amounts of VRAM come into play.


So, would a multi-GPU setup help for single screen gaming? Yes and no. You will definitely see huge benchmark scores, but for actual, in-game results? It depends on the settings in-game and of course, the game itself.


I recommend multi-GPU for single screen gaming as it will provide you with over 60fps which is what you want for perfect gaming conditions. It'll also give you some huge GPU headroom to enable some, if not all anti-aliasing options in-game and not dip below 60fps.


If we're talking mid-range GPUs like the GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards, you will see 60fps in most games - but the AA will be something trickier.


As always, if you're looking at SLI or CrossFiring up two GPUs - don't go mid-range. Get one fast card now (HD 7970/GTX 670 or 680) and then SLI/CF in the future. That's the best way of doing things and gives you some incredible future-proofing.


If you want to talk in detail about this, and give me some more details on your system - feel free to e-mail me and I'll walk you through it.

Should I get Sapphire's Radeon HD 7950 Vapor-X Boost Edition GPU or a GeForce GTX 670

Question asked by Amir from India | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards Content | Posted: Dec 14, 2012 4:20 am

Hi, my question is regarding GPU. Is it true that overclocked Sapphire HD 7950 Vapor-X OC with Boost Edition surpasses the performance of overclocked GeForce GTX 670? I am considering buying 2 Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Vapor-X instead of 2 GTX 670's, so is my decision correct?

Hi Amir,


This is a little hard, as both of those GPUs are great choices. You can see from our review on the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Vapor-X OC with Boost keeps up with the GeForce GTX 670 - but it doesn't beat it.




The Radeon HD 7970 is that card, that will come close to the GTX 670 and beat it. But the Sapphire offering does come with 3GB of RAM which is good, so if you're gaming at a high resolution or enjoy throwing on lots of anti-aliasing, this will be a good boost.


Both cards are great - but the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Vapor-X OC with Boost does come short of out-performing the GTX 670, but not by much. Two of them in CrossFire X mode is still going to kick some serious ass!!!

My computer keeps shutting down when I play games, is my CPU overheating?

Question asked by Israel from Philippines | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs Content | Posted: Dec 13, 2012 1:31 am

My 4 1/2 year old core 2 quad system recently shuts down by itself whenever i play games especially Far Cry 3, Black ops 2 and Doom 3 BFG... then the screen says processor thermal trip warning when i reboot... is this a warning sign that i should upgrade now to a core I-7 system? i will list down my specs in order to know what part is causing the problem... thanks in advance...



  • core 2 Quad Q6600
  • palit GTX 560ti 2GB
  • intel P45 mobo
  • 650W PSU
  • 150GB raptor
  • 500GB scorpio blue
  • antec 900 case
  • kingston 8GB DDR 3 1333Mhz

Hi Israel,


From what you've explained there - your system is shutting down automatically when you're playing games, as well as showing a message that your processor is overheating.




You could take this as two sides - a sign to upgrade, which is something you could do to get around these issues. Secondly, your CPU could be overheating, and all you'd need to do is maybe open the case up and see if the CPU cooler (the heatsink and fan) is dirty, or dusty. You could take the cooler off of the CPU and motherboard itself, clean the CPU and HSF up and reapply some thermal paste.


This is most likely the issue - and if you didn't want to spend any money, apart from the cost of thermal paste - this should solve your problems.


Of course, you could look at this as a sign to upgrade, and grab yourself a new Core i7 CPU, motherboard and RAM. The GPU, PSU and HDDs are all good, so it would be a cheapish upgrade.