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Discussion Just how usable is a 9 year old CPU for me? - My experiences using an i7 2600k in 2020 for a week

Backstory:

I am currently occupying myself with flipping computers. I have found that many buyers will pay a lot of money for a computer with an "i7" even if the older i7 is worth as much as a much newer i3. I figured I should force myself to live with one to see if I should sell computers with older i7 paired with expensive graphics cards as "gaming computers" without feeling dishonest.

I recently bought the i7 2600k+cooler+ram+mobo bundle below for $175+$9 shipping. Currently, I am on day 4, though I only used the PC for a couple of minutes of web browsing one day.

Here's how it is going so far. I will update this thread for the next few days as I do more and more with the system.

System specs:
Intel Core i7 2600k
Thermaltake UX100 65w RGB cooler*
Asus P8Z60-V Gen3
16gb (4x4gb) Crucial DDR3 1600mhz
MSI Mech OC RX5700 8gb GDDR6
Kingston A400 240gb SSD
Corsair CX550M bronze
NZXT S340 with a single exhaust fan and side panel off

*I was impressed by this 65w cooler as it kept this 95w CPU at around 60-70c in games. Even under prime 95 for awhile the CPU hovered around 79/80c. This would not hinder the CPUs performance in any way. Turbo was functioning correctly. I would assume the reason this cooler performs well is that the fan uses a 3 pin 120mm fan that runs at full speed 100% of the time. This helps keep the CPU cool but has the side effect of being loud even at idle.

The RX5700 is a mid-range GPU performing superior to the RTX2060. This seems like a lot to pair with a 9-year-old CPU, but we will see.

First impressions and general usage performance:

My first impressions of the i7 2600k were strong. The system bootup time is fast and the CPU is very fast for web browsing. Some of this can be attributed to the SSD and 16gb ram, but the CPU handled itself nicely.

Performance for my favorite games:

I personally game at 1080p high detail. I am happy with a solid 60fps that is stable.

First up, Automation
The performance of this game disappointed me. The game hovered around 35fps and dipped a lot at 1080p maximum with a 150% res scale. lowest settings and 50% res scale did not even touch the framerate as in every case the GPU was waiting around on he old i7. The GPU never maxed out and oddly enough the CPU did not seem to have any cores hitting 100%, which is weird. Also, when I clicked on any buttons in the game it would cause lag for one second, which seems common across the low-end CPUs I have tested this game on. This game is not competitive so setting a 30fps lock made the experience playable, not great.

Next up, BeamNG.Drive
This game performed better, quite admirably. This game's performance is very very dependent on the map and the number of cars on screen. It is very physics heavy on CPUs.

Even on a very demanding map of Italy, I was able to manage around 60fps on average, though in heavy city areas the framerate would dip to the 50s, and in more rural areas the framerate would go into the 70s. I do not usually have more than one car on screen at a time, however for other people that load in several cars, the performance may suffer. Every other map managed even better performance, for example, Hirochi Raceway managed between 80-90fps or even more. Grid map would likely get hundreds of FPS.

Overall, very satisfactory performance, however, the RX5700 mainly sat around waiting for the CPU.

GTAV
GTAV online offered very similar performance to BeamNG.Drive. At 1080p max (except no msaa) the i7 averaged around 60fps overall. In the city, I got roughly 50-60fps, usually closer to 60 than 50. In the desert, I got over 60fps most times, though sometimes it would dip below 60s for a little bit. The action would dip this framerate. Changing the settings to 1080p bare minimum did not touch the framerate as in all cases at 1080p the RX5700 was waiting on the 2600k. I noticed several cores bouncing off of 100% however it was not all of the time. Setting this game to a 60fps lock seems like a good idea.

Banished
Banished is not demanding at all. I have run this on a Celeron netbook + 2g ram with a rather not good experience, but it actually ran. On the i7 2600k with RX5700 I actually saw the first instance of a GPU bottleneck, as much as I hate that term. At 1080p max I got several hundreds of FPS, however, the exact framerate varied a TON depending on how zoomed in the game was and how fast it was sped up. Reducing settings to lowest gave me a generally higher framerate, showing the framerate was not CPU limited most likely. It was odd since no parts seemed stressed at all in MSI afterburner, which seems to happen often on this game with any decent hardware.

So far:
The performance until now has been alright and this old i7 seems to still perform well for games, however, it does not belong paired with a high-end GPU at 1080p. I would bet at 1440p max in many games the 2600k would be an alright match for a GPU like an RX5700 or 2060, however, some games like Automation do not like this i7 regardless.

Upcoming:
I would like to test the performance of this CPU in some other tasks I do occasionally, however, I would also like to try overclocking. This board has an incredible 12+4 phase VRM (likely 6+2 doubled) and large heat syncs, even one on the rear of the board. I will need to find my intel brackets for my Arctic Freezer 34 esports (also has an Arctic F12 PWM added) in order to overclock this CPU well.

I would also like to give my thoughts of the CPU in general VS a newer low-end CPU. I have a feeling a 3300x will end up being recommended instead though it is a little more expensive.


UPDATE - Drawing Some Conclusions:
It seems for 60hz gaming, the Intel Core i7 2600k still performs well if paired with a suitable graphics card and 16gb ram. Esports titles would be a breeze, though more demanding games still can run pretty well, though very demanding titles may dip below 60fps but should still be at least be somewhat playable. Overclocking the i7 2600k to 4.6ghz helped to bring overall framerates up and help to reduce dips below 60fps.

If you currently have an i7 2600k and have a 60hz monitor, you probably do not need a CPU upgrade just yet. If you play at resolutions above 1080p and have a 60hz monitor, a high-end GPU and a decent CPU cooler to overclock might be a worthwhile investment.

If you are planning on building a PC, do not buy a used 2600k.

The CPU itself is priced decently and isn't much more than a new Celeron or Athlon, and the i7 will beat those CPUs. However, the motherboards are getting more and more sparse and seem to be going for over $75 for a cheap z68 or almost $50 for a non-OEM H61, which is about as much as a budget B450 and A320 respectively, which offer features like M.2 and a much better upgrade path. Also, a used kit of 16gb DDR3 1600mhz will cost you around $45, which is about the same as a cheap 16gb kit of ddr4 used.

I paid $175+9 shipping for the bundle of
i7 2600k
brand new Thermaltake UX100
Asus Z68
16gb ram
For the same money new you can get
PCPartPicker Part List

Type|Item|Price
:----|:----|:----
CPU | Intel Core i3-9100F 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor | $74.99 @ B&H
Motherboard | Asus PRIME H310M-E R2.0 Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard | $56.07 @ Amazon
Memory | GeIL EVO SPEAR 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 CL16 Memory | $57.99 @ Newegg
| Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts |
| Total | $189.05
| Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-06-04 10:07 EDT-0400 |
Sure its slightly more money and you miss out on overclocking, get a bad stock cooler, and the cpu has only 4 threads, but its far more modern. It has a better upgrade path, the motherboard supports m.2, it has an upgrade path to 6 or 8 cores, and honestly on par if not superior CPU performance. If you buy those parts used, it will cost similar to the i7 bundle.
 
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lga1156_ftw

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Very nice article, im actually running even older system with currently Lynnfield xeon x3470 its 4 core 8 threaded cpu running base clock 2.93ghz. I owned probably all the lynnfield processors at one point, excluding some of the xeon models.

This thing seems to have incredible IMC and i can run up to 2550mhz on the ddr3 without any issues with decent memory timings.

I had slight problems with stability until i delidded the cpu and now im getting maximum temperature on the cores 70-76c which is completely fine with 1.418-1.425 vcore.
Intels maximum is 1.4v on the core but i have been running multiple systems slightly over that for years and years without any issues. I would say lynnfield is fine up to 1.425v on the core if temperatures are under 80c.

Current settings which are stable 12 hours + on aida64 and 24/7 + gaming:

-21x 200blck = 4.221ghz (hyperthreading enabled)
-Ram running at 2400mhz timings 10-12-11-30 , command rate 1N (going from 2N to 1N actually gave 2% boost in benchmarks)
-Vcore 1.418v , VTT / IMC voltage 1.318v, DRAM voltage 1.65v, PLL voltage 1.90v , PCH voltage 1.05v

Usually i never used VTT voltage over 1.25v for long periods of time since highest suggested is 1.21v, remember always when you tweak this get your dram voltage within 0.45v range of the VTT.
Im just getting so much better performance with higher blck and ram speed i will test how is there any downside or performance use after example 1 year for going over 1.3v on the VTT.

Maybe there is some benchmarks we could compare the cpu generations?




 
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Update!

I threw my Arctic Freezer 34 Esports ONE cooler on the 2600k once I found the bracket in my drawer. I slapped an Arctic F12 PWM 120mm fan onto the rear of the cooler in addition to the 120mm on the front. I used Thermaltake TG-7 TIM, however maybe not enough since it was the end of the tube.

I tried 4.8ghz at 1.45v but the CPU ran throttled and it wasn't quite stable so I settled on 4.7ghz.

Ran Cinebench R20 single-core at 4.7ghz 1.42v and got 348CB. The system froze afterwards, so I raised to voltage a little (either 1.44 or 1.43v, will double-check and edit later)

Ran Cinebench R20 multi-core at 4.7ghz and achieved 1764CB.

I will test some games and update them later. May need to adjust some settings since these settings were quick and dirty.

Temps in prime 95 at 4.7ghz are in the 80s, but the CPU does not throttle. In games it will run far cooler.
@lga1156_ftw You can run R20 and test if you want to compare.

I had my last 2600k at 4.2ghz and ran R20 on it, so I will dig up those photos and update. Interested to see the performance difference between both 4c8t 4.2ghz CPUs.

Just a side note, this was really fun. It makes me wonder just how fun overclocking an old FX CPU would be given how high the clocks can go.
 
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Update from overclocking.

Automation used to run at 30-35fps at stock, now at 4.7ghz it gets 40-45fps. Still dips a lot. Not great still, but better.

I am hoping this overclock will push the games that couldn't quite hit 60 before over the edge so that they hit 60fps stable now.
 
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In BeamNG.Drive Italy map I got around 50fps in cities and 70fps before overclock.
Now at 4.7ghz, I get 75fps in rural areas, sometimes higher. In cities it rarily dips below 60fps.

Could lock this game at 60fps and have a good experience. Most other maps would run better but they already ran fine.
 

lga1156_ftw

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These temperatures look very impressive for the cooler, im using 3 fan aio corsair h150i running all fans and pump on max setting. Im getting 78-79c max temps on prime95 and intel burn test. All other stress tests stay below 75c.

Even after delidding the cpu:s im going over 80c with over 1.425v.

What blck and multiplier you are on currently?

I just ran Cinebench R20 and got 261 for the single core, that took ages, my core for all threads is about 1400 :
 

lga1156_ftw

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So if you run i7-2600k on stock settings im basically getting those results, am i right? Not bad at all.

Im not gonna push more than 4.2ghz i think ive hit the overclock ceiling, and im already at 200 blck with ddr3 running at 2400mhz.
 

lga1156_ftw

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Im getting 8000 in 3d mark fire strike extreme and am very happy about this result, this is with my 980ti running at stock.

And wolfsends i5-750 is very good cpu too, i got one to 4.4ghz running stable for years. Hyperthreading increases temperatures and its harder to overclock these.
 

toniplavna

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Thanks for the review. Im using i7 3770k at 4.2ghz, 16gb hyperx 1600mhz, ssd 250gb, gygabyte z77 motherboard, some aftermarket cooler and some low brand psu.

Its damn fast for browsing etc. Booting is 10-15sec. Using rendering in poremiere is not that fast but premiere not using my gpu so...

My gpu is old hd6850 1gb and thats bad. I cant play majority of newer games cuz of that.
 
Doesn't surprise me that you got the 95w processor running fine under a 65w heatsink with a 100% fan. I do this all the time, even on stock Dells, etc that use two different tdp coolers. I usually floor all the fans--cooler is better!
 

lga1156_ftw

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Im maxing out 980ti In some games with 1st gen cpu so definfeyly get a new gpu atleast a 780ti Or 980.

I get 85% on userbenchmark for cpu making it one of fastest cpus In there from lynnfield. About 46% overclock from base.

Im suprised you guys are not running your ram higher. If im getting 2400mhz on gen1 you should too. This was after very long tweaking and my ram Is rated 2400 on xmp.

2133mhz was alot easier since i only need 188 blck for it. 2400mhz needs 200+
 

lga1156_ftw

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I just tested and getting about 33% performance boost in games from the default supported 1333mhz speed for the cpu to 2400mhz, i did manually tighten some timings from the xmp profile suggested.
 

lga1156_ftw

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Just download aida64 extreme its trial version then run cache and memory benchmark to compare if there is any point even to start to.

Atleast 1st gen ram speed matters alot , it might not be the case with later gen cpu:s.
 

lga1156_ftw

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I read from intel specs that i7-2600k absolute max vcore would be 1.425-1.45v for 24/7 use so its slightly higher than whats limit for gen 1 (1.400v), you should be safe with that with right cooling.

My ram has good heatsinks and fans blowing to them, no sensor for temperature but seems cool.

I keep 1.65v as the limit, never had any issue with ram dying with that voltage past decade. I have no idea how strong are memory controllers inside gen2 processors but even intel gives max recommended to 1.575v so that should be atleast fine. Remember to save your BIOS settings in a profile before continuing, you WILL get black screen and everything you can imagine when ram overclocking so you dont need to manually set timings again if you get bios reset.

Remember IF you increase Dram voltage the VCCIO needs to be within 0.5v range of that, i suggest even 0.45v or less for more stability. For example 1.65v dram voltage then you need ATLEAST 1.15v vccio and suggested 1.20v.
For 1.575v using 1.10-1.15v vccio is fine.

Looks like less than 1.25v for 24/7 use is suggested in this thread for 2nd gen IMC, but i would personally stay with 1.2v or less, preferably 1.15v which is exactly what is safe limit for using 1.65v dram voltage.

First memory benchmark with current settings 1600mhz with timings you have on, and save picture of results.

First when you test ram, make sure your current cpu overclock is stable or take it down a notch, then loosen primary timings to 12-12-12-36 and command rate 2N / 2T.
Then think what DRAM voltage is max you want to use, example 1.60v and switch that, and then do manual VCCIO/ VTT voltage to 1.15v.

Then try ram frequency 1866mhz and boot to windows, if you cant boot with these loose timings 12 12 12 36 to windows then its a weak ram, in this case apply abit more dram voltage , like 1.6125v and try again. Do this until you reach your dram voltage limit , example 1.625v. When you can succesfully boot to 1866 you can try 2133mhz and so on, benchmark in between. Do this until you reached limit to both vccio and dram voltage of your choice, and cant no longer boot into the next dram frequency. Then start tightening timings, first decrease 1st and 3nd timing, try boot to os, if succesfull decrease 2nd timing and repeat until you reach limit. 4th timing is usually summary of 3 first timings combined example 10-10-10-30,
The Lower the first 3 numbers are, the better is performance, you also can get slight boost with going from command rate 2N / T to 1N/ T.

Use memtest86 with bootable usb to test atleast 1 pass.

For VCCIO / IMC / VTT voltage here is some info : https://www.overclock.net/forum/5-intel-cpus/908782-sandy-bridge-overclocking-guide-ocn-members-only.html

EDIT: actually just realized you have about 14k posts here and i have might given info you already know. Well maybe someone can use this who read the thread :)
 
https://valid.x86.fr/q5z03s
1866mhz oc from 1600mhz with 1.25v VCCIO and 1.6v memory IIRC. I'm used to the lower voltage of DDR4. My ram is a 4x4gb config, so that will make it a little harder to overclock. I am not touching the base clock. As I type i am running this config with prime in the background.

Runs stable in Prime95 blend, which stresses both CPU and ram pretty hard. I use this to find a rough clock speed that the ram is stable at, then once I find the max stable in prime blend, I will verify its stability in memtest.

I am not sure what to do with timings. There are always so many numbers to keep track of, and thats usually what keeps me from overclocking ram.
 
looks like I am going to have to back off the CPU a little. The 4.7ghz was barely stable and I kept having to bump the voltage up since it crashed a bit. Ended up like 1.55v plus Extreme LLC plus increasing the VCCIO really overwhelmed the cooler.

Now I am finding the lowest voltage at 4.6ghz as well as messing around with the LLC. I already know those settings for 1866mhz ram will work, so once I get the CPU sorted Ill overclock ram. i want 2133 but for a 4x4gb kit that is pushing it or so it seems.
 
At 4.7ghz the Vcore was getting pushed near 1.5 according to CPUz when vcore was set to 1.46v and LLC was set to extreme. Was getting mid-90s in Prime blend after awhile.

https://valid.x86.fr/svbjar Is stable in prime blend now. 4.6ghz CPU and 1866mhz ram.
Currently set to 1.2 VCCIO, Extreme LLC, Vcore at 1.38v, and Dram at 1.6v, the vcore only gets to 1.4v in CPUz and CPU temp is now 75c in prime blend, an insane 20c lower. Seems the CPU really likes 4.6ghz more than 4.7ghz.

Edit, high 70s under prime blend for an extended time. May hit 80 eventually. still way better

I tried 2133 with stock timings but even with 1.65v dram and 1.25 vccio it wouldn't post. Any clue what to do with timings? Do you think that would allow me to push further?

Currently, 11,11,11,28 according to CPUz and the command rate is 2t since its 4 sticks.
 
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lga1156_ftw

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4th number doesnt give much performance even if you lower it, just put it to 30 so its near the combined value of first 3 timings. You can try command rate 1T and test if it affects any benchmarks or stability, in my case i didnt get any issues and very slight improvement.

What do you mean tried 2133mhz with stock timings? Did you try with 12-12-12-36 and command rate 2T?
You cant use same timings than you use with 1600 and 1866 you need to first loosen them.
Higher frequency gives still more performance than lower even if timings are loosened (up to a point)

EDIT: ram might be also getting too hot, try putting a fan towards the sticks or get heatsinks.

EDIT2: also do benchmarks in between changing timings / frequency like aida64 memory benchmark. Or passmark memory test.

If you cant boot over 1866mhz even with 12-12-12-36 then you can either try either get best timings possible for 1600mhz this would be 9-9-9-24 , or then test how things go with 1866. Performance test shows if you benefit from using lower freq , and lower timings or higher freq and sslightly loosened timings.
 
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