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Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By

www.intel.com
$199
By: William Van Winkle

Santa might whip up free toys for kids, but the rest of us have to pay with cash or credit, and that means the winter sky is not the limit. We’d all love to put a Core i7-975 Extreme in every stocking, but at a grand a pop, that’d be pretty ho-ho-horrific on the budget. If you want to give the gift of Intel's Nehalem architecture at 20% of the price, look no further than its Core i5-750.

You could almost fit Intel's retail box in a stocking...You could almost fit Intel's retail box in a stocking...

To know where and why Core i5 fits into the big value scheme, we need to revisit the ghosts of Nehalem past. Originally, there was the king, Core i7 on an LGA 1366 socket interface. This monster features four cores with Hyper-Threading, yielding eight logical cores. You also have 8MB of L3 cache shared among all four physical cores and a three-channel DDR3 memory controller built into the CPU. For more on Intel's current flagship, check out our review of the Core i7-975.

Next, we got Core i7 on the LGA 1156 socket. What’s the difference? Not much! In fact, the derivative architecture was so good that we called it Intel's Mainstream Magnum Opus in our launch coverage. It included the same number of cores, Hyper-Threading as a feature of the Core i7s, and the same shared L3 cache. You merely step down to a dual-channel integrated DDR3 controller. And sure, the LGA 1366 variant gets 36 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 through X58 versus 16 built into the LGA 1136-based processor. But this is only a concern if you focus on multiple high-speed graphics cards across multiple slots.

The difference between i5 and i7 is Hyper-Threading and a bit of core clock rate. That’s it. The bottom line is that stepping down from three DDR3 channels to two and losing Hyper-Threading will generally whack 10% to 20% in performance versus today’s flagship. If that sounds grim, I’ll put it another way: you can get better than 80% of the top-end Core i7's performance for 20% of the price in a Core i5. Happy holidays, indeed!

Keep in mind that Core i5 preserves Nehalem’s Turbo Boost capabilities, which shuts down unneeded cores and uses some of their overhead to "overclock" the remaining core. Turbo Boost will take the i5-750's default speed of 2.66 GHz up to 3.2 GHz when running a single-threaded workload. Or, if you're comfortable taking the manual approach, we've taken these CPUs beyond 4GHz thanks to the maturity of Intel's 45nm manufacturing process, too.

Much (if not most) of your software may not need the eight-threaded support that Hyper-Threading—four might be plenty. The fact is that for the majority of mainstream users, Core i5-750 is an almost unbelievably good value—so good that it’s hard to justify paying more for anything until we see what Intel’s next-gen Gulftown (32nm, six physical cores) adds when it pops up in the middle of next year.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    gtvr , November 25, 2009 9:52 AM
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
  • 22 Hide
    Bluescreendeath , November 25, 2009 5:40 AM
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;) 
  • 21 Hide
    FoShizzleDizzle , November 25, 2009 8:43 AM
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    the_silent_one , November 25, 2009 5:30 AM
    Anytime you mention eyefinity, be sure to mention that ONE MONITOR MUST EITHER BE ON DISPLAYPORT OR ON AN ACTIVE DISPLAYPORT ADAPTER (not just any displayport adapter, but one that uses supplemental power). If people don't know this. They are in for a rude surprise. Also, if using a displayport to hdmi or dvi active adapter for eyefinity, make it the middle monitor.
  • 22 Hide
    Bluescreendeath , November 25, 2009 5:40 AM
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;) 
  • -2 Hide
    dhowie , November 25, 2009 5:52 AM
    I think she should be on the gift guide, I can certainly bet most of us would rather have her then anything on here :) 
  • 9 Hide
    1898 , November 25, 2009 6:09 AM
    Does she come with the retail version of the i7?
  • -7 Hide
    nanotiberium , November 25, 2009 7:08 AM
    I would like she to bring me the gift! :) 
  • 21 Hide
    FoShizzleDizzle , November 25, 2009 8:43 AM
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
  • 11 Hide
    FoShizzleDizzle , November 25, 2009 8:43 AM
    overclocking*
  • 23 Hide
    gtvr , November 25, 2009 9:52 AM
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
  • 5 Hide
    kencolestud69 , November 25, 2009 10:09 AM
    Sarah, you make christmas better for us(tech geeks) each year.
    :p 
  • 15 Hide
    JeanLuc , November 25, 2009 11:36 AM
    1898Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?


    All your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.

  • 4 Hide
    twanto , November 25, 2009 12:08 PM
    I don't understand why you recommend a 1.65v RAM kit at 1600 when you can have 1600 speeds at 1.5v with other kits, for a lower price. G.skill ripjaws, for example.
  • -7 Hide
    zelannii , November 25, 2009 12:20 PM
    The power supply, really, 850w for $179 and it;s only an 80+, not 85+?

    Sure, it's got 6 8pin connectors... but it onl;y has 850w... an 8pin + 6pig GPU, like the 5890 Toms just recently reviewed, can handle 280w. That means 3 of those alone exceeds this PS performance, not even including any other components...

    1: not modular. 2: too many connectors. 3: not 85% + rated. 4: about $40 too high of a price for what it DOES have.
  • 4 Hide
    blacksins , November 25, 2009 12:22 PM
    well, i saw all the pages only because of her!! i actually use toms hardware from long time ago and never registed, i did now only to comment hehe :p 
  • 4 Hide
    JeanLuc , November 25, 2009 12:26 PM
    Why do I get thumbs down vote when all I do is try and help the guy? Some of you are a bit trigger happy.
  • 11 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , November 25, 2009 12:31 PM
    Is it wrong for me to want to spank her with my keyboard?
  • 3 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 25, 2009 12:40 PM
    JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.

    Wow, thanks! Didn't know we could do that. Finally!
  • -3 Hide
    blacksins , November 25, 2009 1:11 PM
    DigitalkrymeWould of been better without the woman in the pics, cant get a good view of the hardware. Besides that my wife is better looking

    WOW! really?!!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 25, 2009 1:51 PM
    JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.


    Well golly gosh! That's so convenient. In the next iteration, see if you can add more steps.
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