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  • Posts: 84
  • Registered: ‎12-09-2009
  • Location: United States of America
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W520 from 2720QM to 2960XM / 2860QM test results

2016-09-18, 20:31 PM

Because I needed to reapply the thermal paste on my 2011 era quad core W520 that came with a 2720QM, I decided to upgrade the CPU.


While I was at it, I upgraded the heatsink / fan to the 55W model, the 04W1574. It's very easy to do this because in North America at least you can buy the official part directly from Lenovo/IBM. My machine came with the 45W heatsink and fan, the 04W1576, which looks identical, and even comes with exactly the same fan.


I was unsure which CPU would meet my needs better, so I purchased both from eBay and tested them. They are both reasonably priced these days, relative to their introductory price at least. The 2960XM has a 200Mhz faster base clock and 100MHz faster turbo clock than the 2860QM, but runs at 55W vs 45W.


In brief I found for my needs the 2860QM is probably the better choice because it throttles less when under sustained heavy load. If instead I needed sporadic short sharp bursts of power the 2960XM would likely be the better choice.


I ran a demanding benchmark that is meaningful to my work. Before sharing the results I want to make one thing clear: these results are indicative and not definitive, because I ran each test only once. However I did ensure intensive Windows background services had had a chance to run, e.g. the Windows Modules Installer Worker.


Moreover, what makes comparing the CPUs more tricky than might be imagined is the fact that installing the heat sink / fan is a lot more difficult than with a desktop computer. Specifically, very small changes in the angle of the plates that cover the CPU and GPU can cause significant changes in thermal performance, for better or for worse. For instance, the plate(s) might set too high above the CPU / GPU, or not be positioned so that the entire surface area is covered. I had to spend quite some time getting that right with the 55W heatsink.


Additionally I probably had too much thermal paste on the CPU when I tested the 2960XM.


So with those caveats in mind, the following is what I found when running Piccure+. Piccure+ uses all cores and runs for a long time. It can use the GPU but the Quadro 1000M is too old for Piccure+ to do so, so it's a good test of the CPU. Using a 412 megapixel panorama 2.30GB in size, the results are (in minutes):


  • Intel 2960XM (45W heatsink): 53:35
  • Intel 2960XM (55W heatsink): 41:45
  • Intel 2860QM (55W heatsink): 36:02

The 2960XM throttled plenty of times, whereas the 2860QM did so only once, and that's the difference. Throughout the test the 2860QM was very regularly running at 90+ degrees. Incidentally the 2720QM ran 50 minutes slower than the 2860QM (i.e. almost 1.5 hours), but that's only because its performance was severly constrained by its too-old thermal paste.


It's possible the 45W heatsink result is poorer because the angle of the plate above the CPU was not as optimal as with the 55W model. Or it maybe that despite looking exactly the same, the 55W model is in fact different. The fan does sound more abrasive in the 55W version I have despite being the exact same model fan as in the 45W version.



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