We’ve now had plenty of time to test out Intel’s new core
i7 processors, and it didn’t take too long for the first i7 systems – such as the Ti Deluxe i7 920 here – to appear as well.
The processor onboard in this instance is the ‘entry-level’ Core i7 920, but even so it produces a fearsome amount of power. The core speed is 2.66GHz, but once you consider that’s spread over four cores, each with hyperthreading, its not at all surprising that you see a significant performance lift.
The 920 managed a superb 1.92 in our benchmarks, well above the last system we tested from TI: the TI Extreme Power 260, with an E8500 processor, rated 1.75.
It’s also impressive when you factor in that the machine we were provided had no pre-overclocking – common on enthusiast systems. Overclocked, the 920 can be boosted a futher 10% in clock speed, which should make it accordingly capable of higher benchmark scores. Trinity International suggested to us that they can overclock models on request before shipping.
Gaming performance is also impressive thanks to the included GeForce GTX 260. The 920 zipped through our Low and Medium settings Crysis benchmarks with ease, recording 112fps and 66fps respectively. On High settings, the 920 also performed well, clipping along at 40fps – not quite as stunning as the Extreme Power 260, but not far behind. Even on Very High settings, the 920 managed a very playable 22fps. It’s hard to fault the performance and this is one machine that will be capable of running high-powered games for some time.
This is a system build from the ground up, and obvious care has gone into selecting all the components. The motherboard, for example, is a mid-range model with gaming chops. The Gigabyte GA-EX58-DS4 includes six RAM slots, of which three are filled in the configuration we reviewed, expandable to a massive 24GB. It also sports 1 PCIe x16 slot, 2 PCIe x8 and Gigabytes DES power saving features.
The DS4 supports 3-way crossfire, which makes it advantageous that the components in the 920 are tucked into an iCute mid-tower ATX case. It’s no great standout, but iCute are known for good airflow that helps keep everything cool, even when running multitasking apps or high performance games and we felt the cool breeze through our benchmarks.
Although the cooling is fine, it results in quite a noisy system, thanks the massive fan in the side of the iCute S901 case. Taking the side off the case solves the noise problem, but it’s disappointing that it’s necessary.
The case itself is basic, but functional, with enough space to get in and work, but not so much that you’d want to be delving into it on a regular basis. The power supply, a Huntkey 550W model, is adequate, but it would have been nice to see a higher quality power supply included, as well as more power to cater for crossfire or SLI. There’s also no filtering on the case – even with the case shut, you’ll need to keep an eye out for dust.
There are plenty of free bays for expansion, and with 12 USB ports it’s hard to imagine you’ll run out of room for peripherals. There’s no Blu-ray, and only a single firewire port, but it’s a solid – if somewhat basic – selection.
TI has included our A-listed LG W2252TQ monitor and a basic logitech keyboard and mouse.
The LG monitor looks just as good as it has on previous outings and adds an extra boost to an already excellent rig. Given the peripherals, this would make a great upgrade system, or factor in the cost of speakers and sound card if you plan on turning it into a serious gaming or entertainment rig.
The price is a sticker-shock-inducing $2680, and even given the performance boost over the TI Extreme Power 260 – which you can get for $1000 less – this is performance at a price. If it had in a 940 or 965 chip, we’d be more forgiving, but as it is, this is one to wait a few months for.