Running the GTX1070 With the 1st. Gen. Intel Core i Processor?

Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday I picked up a new and shiny Gigabyte GTX1070 Founders Editions graphics card and paired it up with my almost 8 years old X58 platform. Running a newly released, high-end graphics card on an old platform usually indicates a bottleneck to a certain degree, but what if I tune the X58 by throwing in one of the best LGA1366 based CPUs, the six core, hyper-threaded Xeon X5670 and  overclock it, a couple of SSDs and some decent RAM?


Well, we get pretty much the top of the line X58-based system. Having a six-core, hyper-threaded CPU working in tandem with  an overclocking-friendly motherboard gives me the opportunity to imitate pretty much any 1st. gen. Intel Core i-series processor by overclocking/underclocking as well as enabling/disabling cores and hyper-threading technology.  What I’m going to do in this post is try to imitate some processors from the 1st. gen. Core i3, i5 and i7 tiers and see how much of a bottleneck, if any, I’ll face.

All of the following tests will be conducted by running both 3DMark Fire Strike and GTA V and comparing the results afterwards.

Now, let me remind you of the 1st. gen. Intel Core i-series processors we had back then. On the lowest tier we had the hyper-threaded dual-core Core i3 500 series processors, clocked up to 3.33GHz. Next up, the middle tier was dominated by the non-hyperthreaded, quad-core Core i5 700 series processors, beating up to 2.8GHz. The top tier, the Core i7 series came with the broadest CPU range, varying from hyper-threaded quads all the way to hyper-threaded six-core processors, clocking up to 3.46GHz. The Xeon X5670 I’m going to use is pretty much the exact equivalent of the Core i7 900 series six-core CPU.

Test setup:

  • Intel Xeon X5670;
  • Asus P6T Deuxe;
  • Gigabyte GTX1070 8GB Founders Edition;
  • 2x Samsung 840EVO 120GB in RAID0;
  • 24GB Kingston HyperX Fury;
  • Corsair CS750M 750W 80+ Gold.

You can see the results table below. Each color represents a different processor.


As it turns out, even the slowest first gen. stock Core i3 processor does not bottleneck the GTX1070 in 3DMark’s Fire Strike test, so there’s nothing much to discuss here. GTA V, on the other hand, is a  different story. Starting with the stock Core i3 530 2.93GHz, the GTX1070 benched at an average of 65 frames per second. Once the Core i3 530 was overclocked to 4.2GHz, there was a pretty significant 28% boost in the average frame rate, resulting in 83 frames per second. Clearly, the dual-core processor has some trouble meeting the demands of GTA V since the average frame rate increased almost linearly with a processor’s speed.

Moving on to the quad-core Core i5 760 area, things started to look better. Event at stock, the Core i5 760 2.8GHz managed to outpace the Core i3 530 overclocked to 4.2GHz by a small margin. When clocked similarly, the Core i5 760 managed to outperformed the latter Core i3 processor by around 30%. Interesting fact is that both 3.67GHz and 4.2GHz overclocks on the Core i5 760 processor yielded almost identical results, meaning, a first gen quad-core processor above 3.67GHz mark is able to take full advantage of the GTX1070 GPU in GTA V.

Apparently, moving up to the quad-core Core i7 area did not yield any tangible performance premium as long core speed was the same, not to mention the six-core Core i7 980X.

My conclusion. It’s pretty impressive these old processors are still able to play along with the latest GPU so nicely, isn’t it? That being said, I’d say you’re quite good for a GTX1070 as long as you have a Core i5 750/760 processor overclocked to around 4GHz mark. However, some games are significantly heavier on a CPU than GTA V, so there could potentially be some bottleneck. The more heavily overclocked cores you have, the more your GTX1070 will appreciate it, especially for the time to come.

CPU Power Consumption Calculator

CPU Power Consumption Calculator is a very simple and handy application aimed at overclockers with an intention of helping them estimate the power consumption of their overclocked processor or processors.

Download CPU Power Consumption Calculator for Windows
Download CPU Power Consumption Calculator Source (C#)

How to Use the CPU Power Calculator v1.0

Picture 1 illustrates the input fields of the application which all have to be filled in.

Picture 1.

Picture 1.

1. <Stock CPU speed>.  This is the highest operating speed of a CPU under 100% load without any system modifications. To obtain this value, check the CPU-Z “Core Speed” reading while running something really heavy on a CPU, like LinX, Intel Burn Test, Prime95 or something else you are well aware puts a CPU under 100% load.  The MHz input example is shown by #1 in picture 1, however, GHz input is supported, too.

2.<Stock CPU voltage>. This is the voltage supplied to a processor under heavy load without any system modifications. The easiest way of finding the stock voltage of a processor is checking the CPU-Z “Core Voltage” reading while running something really heavy on a CPU, like LinX, Intel Burn Test, Prime95 or something else you are well aware  makes a CPU run at full voltage. Voltage value should be entered in the format as denoted by #2 in picture 1. Either a comma or a dot may be used as a separator.   

3.<Stock TDP rating>. This is the maximum power dissipation value of a CPU im watts under maximum load without any system modifications. To get this value, simply head over to website, find your CPU listed there and then locate its “Thermal Design Power” number.  Input example is shown by #3 in picture 1.

4.<Overclocked CPU speed>.  If for some unearthly reason you have forgotten what your overclock actually is, just follow the first step.

5.<Overclocked CPU voltage>. The same exact approach as discussed in step two is advisable.

6. Once the data mention above has been entered, the power consumption estimation will appear as shown by #6 in picture 1.

The Test

Next, let’s take a look at the real life power consumption figures of the Intel Core i7 980X processor. Fully loaded, the processor runs at 3.46GHz across all cores which are fed by 1.241 volts as shown in picture 2.  The total power consumption of the Core i7 980X system during idle was measured at 139 watts using a multimeter. With Prime95 fired up, the multimeter was reading 272 watts.  If we do simple math and subtract 272W from 139W, we get 133W for the CPU power usage, which is very close the advertised 130W.

Picture 2. Core i7 980X at stock.

Picture 2. Core i7 980X at stock.

The processor in question was overclocked to 4.4GHz on all cores. To achieve this task, the voltage of 1.416v was applied (picture 3). A 360W total power draw was measured. Having figured out the aforementioned power draw related figures,  we can now find out the approximate power consumption number of this i7 980X by subtracting 360W from 139W, which equals 221W. Remember, 139W figure represents the total power draw of the system with the stock CPU at idle.

Picture 3. Core i7 980X overclocked to 4.4GHz at 1.416 volts.

Picture 3. Core i7 980X overclocked to 4.4GHz at 1.416 volts.

If you pay heed to the #6 figure of picture 1, you’ll see the CPU Power Consumption Calculator was able to maintain 97% accuracy in comparison to the real-life figure of 221W, which is pretty good. The observed error can be explained through not taking the leakage power into consideration as it’s difficult to model.