Intel Core i7

Intel Core i7
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Intel’s new range of desktop processors has been a long time coming, but at last it’s arrived - and it leaves all others in the dust

With all the new technologies under Nehalem’s bonnet, we were hopeful that the Core i7’s performance would belie its seemingly unremarkable specifications, and we weren’t disappointed.

Benchmark blitz

A system built around the low-end Core i7-920, running at 2.66GHz, tore through our benchmarks with a final score of 1.86. That’s distinctly faster than a comparable system running the top-end Core 2 Extreme QX9770; see the table opposite for comparisons with other recent powerful processors.

More powerful i7s achieved some really exceptional scores. The Core i7-940, running at 2.93GHz, achieved 1.98 – the sort of score we normally only see from overclocked PCs. And when we moved up to the 3.2GHz i7-965 Extreme, benchmark scores hit 2.12 – the highest score we’ve ever seen from any system.
We didn’t even have to stop there. Intel “Extreme” processors are multiplier-unlocked, and we were able to turn this high-end part all the way up to 3.7GHz using just a stock Intel heatsink and fan for cooling.

At these speeds our i7 system achieved a benchmark score of 2.49, leaving all previous performance records in tatters. And we don’t doubt that with upgraded cooling and a suitable motherboard, these chips will go yet higher.

Power – at a price

Clearly the Core i7 is a hugely exciting CPU, but this sort of performance doesn’t come cheaply. The high-end Core i7-965 is a jaw-dropping $2154 from, with the slower, multiplier-locked i7-940 still likely to come in at around $1088. Factor in the cost of a new LGA 1366 motherboard ($621) and it’s hard to justify the expense.

It’s worth remembering, though, that even the low-end Core i7-920 is a faster processor than anything Intel has produced before. And while $617 is hardly pocket money, it’s far better value than its faster cousins.

But if you don’t need the fastest CPU in the world, you’ll still get far more bang for your buck if you pick a more established processor from a little way down the performance ladder. As the graph above shows, in terms of performance per pound, the only thing worse than a Core i7 is the absurdly priced Core 2 Extreme QX9770.

Even a score of 1.5 in our benchmarks represents a very powerful PC that will zoom through any task you might wish to throw at it for years to come. Unless you’re a die-hard enthusiast or a rocket scientist, you don’t need to invest in a Core i7 processor just yet.

But for those who do demand the very best, Intel is once again the only game in town. These exceptional chips are sure to become instant favourites for high-performance PCs, even though Australians are paying a premium right now. As prices fall, their popularity can only grow.

Intel’s new arrivals are just too expensive for us to give them a general recommendation just yet, but there’s not a doubt in our minds that tomorrow belongs to Core i7.

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This Review appeared in the January, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing

See more about:  intel  |  core  |  i7

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Comments: 4
3 January 2009

Comment made about the PC Authority article:
Intel Core i7?
Intel’s new range of desktop processors has been a long time coming, but at last it’s arrived - and it leaves all others in the dust

What do you think? Join the discussion.
3 January 2009
Looks like Intel has some work to do to catch up with AMD in bang for bucks.
3 January 2009
Really that's the point here Slatts.
It's all very fine for Intel to produce the "best" and fastest CPU, but if only a few can afford it, it becomes rather pointless as far as the majority are concerned.
But, it's relative as far as price is concerned. I remember when a top end P4 or AMD CPU was relatively expensive for the times.

What WILL happen is that the middle to budget CPUs will predominate, both AMD and Intel, in the market place and this will be the market that will be fought over by both Intel and AMD as this is where the turnover/market share comes from.

At the cutting edge, whether in low power or high output, will always be where the "glory" Brownie Points will be scored to push the lower end mass market end of Intel and AMD.

So really the "point" is keeping the interest there to drive the market for upgrades, whether the consumer needs it or not.
Good ole U.S of A marketing.=d>


5 January 2009
AMD is not toast with those prices Intel has them at. But in 6 to 12 months time it may be a different story. At least Intel has given AMD some time to come up with something better. I so want a i7-965!....drool....
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