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Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz Processor Review
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz Processor Review - PCSTATS
If you're a computer enthusiast, you're likely already familiar with Intel's Core i7 processors, which have been widely hailed as the fastest desktop processors available on the market today. Introduced at the end of 2008, Intel's newest desktop processors are finally maturing and becoming more accessible in the market. It's time to take a look a fresh look at the Core i7 processor.
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Intel Aug 15 2009   J. Apong  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > Intel Core i7 920

lots of power, is it what you want?

It's a given that the Core i7 920 is a beast of a processor. At 2.66GHz, with four cores, a massive 8MB cache and the ability to use HyperThreading, this processor is filled with incredible potential that even AMD's fastest quad-cores can't match.

However, that's also the biggest flaw of the Core i7: trying to find uses for all these cores.

While for the sake of testing we include a lot of benchmarks that scale well to multiple cores, the important everyday ones (Sysmark) and the fun ones (Crysis and Fear) don't actually fall in favor of the $346 CDN ($280 USD, £170 GBP) Core i7 920 processor. Instead it's Intel's lean and mean $234 Core 2 Duo E8500 that takes the lead in these tests.

Despite big pushes from AMD and Intel towards multi-core processors, desktop parallelism doesn't seem be gaining traction in the hardware community as quickly as the processor giants might like.

There are still scores of developers and programmers who won't support multi-threading until there's a greater install base, and conversely a huge amount of users who won't go quad-core until there are applications that take advantage of it.

Does this mean the Intel's Core i7 920 is a dud? Not by a long shot, but it does limit who it will appeal to. When the processor launched in November it was something that only the truly rich could appreciate, since the total cost to own a Core i7-based system was so expensive.

Getting an Intel X58 Express motherboard, triple-channel memory and the Core i7 920 processor used to run over $1000.

Half a year later and the story has changed. Although Intel doesn't have any real competition from AMD that would pressure it to lower the price of the Core i7 920, motherboard manufacturers and memory makers don't enjoy such security.

The price on Intel X58 Express chipset motherboards have come from the $500 mark down to the $200 mark, and the price of triple-channel DDR3 memory kits have dropped like a rock.

The video card market is tanking as well, which is bad for NVIDIA and ATI, but great for enthusiasts like you. With great gaming videocards like the Radeon HD 4890 approaching the $200 mark, it's easy to make room in the budget for a Core i7 920 processor.

If the stock 2.66GHz performance of the Core i7 920 isn't enough, it can easily be overclocked to some pretty amazing speeds.

When paired up with a top-end motherboard like the MSI Eclipse Plus, it was possible to take our Core i7 920 up to a blistering 4.1GHz. At that speed there simply isn't a processor in production that compares to it, it's the fastest CPU money can buy.

In the end the Nehalem architecture isn't quite the universal recommendation that Intel's previous Conroe (Core 2 Duo) architecture was.

While the Core 2 Duo was universally faster than every Intel processor that came before it, the Core i7 still has a ways to go until it can best processors like the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 in conventional applications that don't scale well on multiple cores.

If your computing is primarily single-threaded, the Core i7 920 may not be the processor for you. But for enthusiasts and overclockers looking for a worthy upgrade path, or artists who do a lot of 3D raytracing and video editing, Intel's Core i7 920 is an easy choice.

PCSTATS Editor's Choice Award

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Contents of Article: Intel Core i7 920
 Pg 1.  Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz Processor Review
 Pg 2.  Intel Core i7 Technology
 Pg 3.  CPU Power Consumption Tests
 Pg 4.  Overclocking Nahalem - eight cores, new architecture
 Pg 5.  32-bit CPU System Benchmarks: SYSMark 2007, PCMark Vantage
 Pg 6.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra Processor & Memory
 Pg 7.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: Super Pi, wPrime2.0
 Pg 8.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: ScienceMark2.3, WinRAR
 Pg 9.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: Cinebench R10, Bibble 5
 Pg 10.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: POV-Ray, 3.7, SPECviewPerf 10
 Pg 11.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 06
 Pg 12.  32-Bit CPU Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis, FEAR
 Pg 13.  — lots of power, is it what you want?

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