An obvious replacementBuilding on momentum - Core i7 920
In spite of recent mid-range processor releases from Intel - Core i7 860 and 870 on the LGA1156 form factor - and the undeniable value presented by AMD's Phenom II X4 965 BE, the Core i7 920, released in November 2008, remains a keen favourite with the knowledgeable enthusiast.
The '920 chip is hewn from the same architecture found on the £750 Core i7 975 Extreme Edition, and our performance numbers have shown it to be a consummate performer in a wide variety of benchmarks. Helped on by a native quad-core design that's augmented with hyperthreading; an integrated memory-controller; triple-channel memory support; provision for Turbo Boost, and the benefits of the 45nm Nehalem process, the latest iteration of the CPU, D0 stepping, is a potent overclocker, too.
Paired up with a low-cost X58 board (£140) and 6GB of DDR3-1,600 (£130), the bundle will set you back just under £500 - not cheap by any means, sure, but delivering performance in spades, especially when overclocked. It's not all perfect, though, as the Turbo Boost feature is rather basic when compared to the newer LGA1156 chips', and under-load power-draw remains high.
More of the same - Core i7 930
So what's different with the new chip? Very little, really. The Core i7 920's multiplier is raised one notch, from 20x to 21x, facilitating, via the 133MHz BCLK, a basic clock-speed of 2.80GHz - up from 2.67GHz.
|Chip||Cores/threads||Frequency||L2 cache||L3 cache||Turbo Boost*||IC link||Process||Memory support||TDP||Price|
|Intel Core i7 920||4/8||2.67GHz||1MB||8MB||1/1/1/2||4.8GT/s, QPI||45nm||TC, DDR3-1,066||130W||£215|
|Intel Core i7 930||4/8||2.80GHz||1MB||8MB||1/1/1/2||4.8GT/s, QPI||45nm||TC, DDR3-1,066||130W||£215|
|Intel Core i7 975 EE||4/8||3.33GHz||1MB||8MB||1/1/1/2||6.4GT/s, QPI||45nm||TC, DDR3-1,066+||130W||£750|
|Intel Core i7 860||4/8||2.80GHz||1MB||8MB||1/1/4/5||2.5GT/s, DMI||45nm||DC, DDR3-1,333||95W||£220|
|AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE||4/4||3.40GHz||2MB||6MB||N/A||2GHz, HT3||45nm||DC, DDR3-1,600||125W||£135|
* based on single/dual/triple/quad-core usage, TDP permitting.
The brief table reinforces that there is very little to differentiate the Core i7 930 from the Core i7 920; the chip represents an entirely predictable move for keeping AMD's increasing-frequency Phenom II X4 parts firmly entrenched below the £150 mark.
Vital stats indicate that the new chip will, at best, eke out a five per cent lead over the incumbent. Enthusiasts will be keen to see how it scales once overclocked, and it's something we investigate during this review.