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Review: Intel Core i7 - everything that Core 2 should have been - performance numbers

by Tarinder Sandhu on 3 November 2008, 09:31 4.0

Tags: Core i7, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qapz5

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Testing setup

06 Getting straight to it without further ado, here are the seven processors we have lined up for your delectation.


System Intel Core i7 system Intel LGA775  system AMD AM2+ system
Processors Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition (3.20GHz, 1MB L2, 8MB L3 cache, LGA1366, quad-core)
Intel Core i7 940  (2.93GHz, 1MB L2, 8MB L3 cache, LGA1366, quad-core)
Intel Core i7 920 (2.66GHz, 1MB L2, 8MB L3 cache, LGA1366, quad-core)
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.20GHz, 12MB L2 cache, LGA775, quad-core)
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 (2.93GHz, 8MB L2 cache, LGA775, quad-core)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (2.67GHz, 12MB L2 cache, LGA775, quad-core)
AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE (2.6GHz, 2MB L2, 2MB L3 cache, AM2+, quad-core)
Motherboard Intel X58 Smackover (retail) MSI X48 Platinum Sapphire PC-AM2RD790 (790FX + SB600)
BIOS revision
v2.3 15/04/2008
Mainboard software Intel Inf Intel Inf Vista SP1 default driver
6GB (3 x 2GB) Corsair DDR3-1,333
4GB (2 x 2GB) Corsair XMS DDR3-1,600 4GB (2 x 2GB) Corsair XMS DDR2-1,066
Memory timings and speed
9-9-9-24-2T @ 1,333MHz (1,066MHz for '920 and '940)
9-9-9-24-2T @ 1,333MHz
4-4-4-12 @ 800MHz
Graphics card(s) Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 512MB
Graphics driver AMD CATALYST 8.10
Disk drive(s) Seagate 500GB SATAII (ST3160812AS)
Optical drive(s) Sony DW-Q30A
Operating system Windows Vista Business 64-bit with SP1
PSU OCZ Game Extreme 1,000W OCZ Game Extreme 700W OCZ Game Extreme 700W
Monitor Dell 2405FPW


Benchmarks Sandra Lite XII SP2c  Win64 memory bandwidth float buffered
ScienceMark 2.0 32-bit build 21MAR05 memory latency
CPU-Z v1.48
LAME multi-threaded benchmark - 701.5MB file - encoded into 128kbps stereo.
DivX 6.8.3 (1.2GB HD source-file, home-theatre profile, 1,700Kbps, insane-quality video, 40Kbps, stereo, 16KHz Audio)
CINEBENCH R10,  64-bit
POV-Ray 32-bit 3.7.0 beta 25a, 64-bit
WinRAR 3.71 compression of 1.2GB file

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts: 1,024x768 - low-detail settings
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars: 1,024x768 low-detail and 1,680x1,050 high-detail settings
Quake 4 netdemo test - 1,024x768 low-detail settings


We have three speed grades of Core i7 processors, all formally 'announced' today but not available to buy until later on this month. They operate at 3.20GHz, 2.93GHz, and 2.67GHz for the 965 Extreme Edition, 940, and 920 models, respectively. They've been matched to equivalent-speed Core 2 quad-core processors, and we've deliberately included the 65nm (Kentsfield) QX6800 because it natively operates at 2.93GHz, which no 45nm desktop CPU does, and to see how generation differences are manifested in our results.

AMD's sole representative is the Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition, operating at 2.6GHz and the fastest currently available. As such, this is not a price-to-price comparison, because AMD has no desktop part retailing for more than £125 right now. Indeed, the table on the following pagesheds light on current pricing.


The Core i7 940 has been re-benchmarked with the memory running at 1,066MHz rather than 1,333MHz, as originally published.