Intel Core i7-975 Extreme And i7-950 Reviewed

Conclusion

If you spend enough time in our comments section, then you’re probably under the impression that AMD currently holds the performance crown and can do no wrong. I get it; AMD is the underdog and it’s hip to applaud competition. I'm certainly in favor of faster hardware, lower prices, and fair capitalism; those things benefit us all.

But don’t let the fanboys fool you—Intel’s Core i7 is the fastest CPU out there, which is why, even after giving our readers a chance to weigh in and guide the direction of our System Builder Marathon series, two of the three builds ended up based on Core i7-920 CPUs. The processor tears up our A/V and productivity tests. Plus it competes well-enough in gaming environments to trade blows with the competing Phenom II and older Core 2 architectures.

It’d seem to be all good news, then, that Intel is launching the Core i7-975 Extreme and Core i7-950, running at 3.33 GHz and 3.06 GHz respectively, at the same prices the company was asking for its Core i7-965 Extreme and i7-940, right? After all, you’re getting 133 MHz  in both cases without spending a penny more than you would have otherwise.

For the folks who buy tier-one boxes and have no interest in touching their nuts and bolts, the appeal of these new chips is clear. But that isn’t me, and it’s probably not you either. There’s a reason we keep revisiting the Core i7-920. Despite its 2.66 GHz stock clock (and the fact that everyone’s overclocking experience is going to differ), we haven’t seen a single sample that had a problem exceeding the speed of Intel’s thousand-dollar flagship, plus some.

I don’t have any problem recommending Core i7 over Phenom II right now—even if it costs an extra $100 (this was my conclusion back when AMD launched the X4 955, and it hasn’t changed). But that recommendation only extends as far as the Core i7-920. At $562 and $999, the 950 and 975 Extreme launching today don’t warrant the step up if you’re an enthusiast undeterred by the thought of Bclk-based overclocking.

Kudos to Intel for raising the bar and enabling extra performance, even when both of the products being replaced were uncontested. But we’ll leave those premium bins to the folks who don’t mind spending extra money on peace of mind. At least for the time being, and given the frequencies we already hit with it, the i7-920 is too sweet a deal to ignore at $280.

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    Top Comments
  • burnley14
    Good thing I didn't shell out for the 965 yesterday.

    Oh wait, I don't have unlimited cash, so I won't be shelling out for the 975 any time soon either . . .
    22
  • smithereen
    I've never seen anyone saying that the Phenom II is faster than any Core i7...
    18
  • cruiseoveride
    Doesn't make any difference with games
    15
  • Other Comments
  • smithereen
    I've never seen anyone saying that the Phenom II is faster than any Core i7...
    18
  • cruiseoveride
    Doesn't make any difference with games
    15
  • cangelini
    The i7's disadvantage in Far Cry 2 is well-known. That it gets beat in HAWX is something we only discovered this time around. In everything else, it's the faster CPU.
    0
  • Tindytim
    Are we going to see a price reduction in the 940 or the 965 that gives me any reason to purchase them over the 920?
    5
  • cangelini
    Not enough to warrant spending an extra $200 or more, in my opinion.
    10
  • burnley14
    Good thing I didn't shell out for the 965 yesterday.

    Oh wait, I don't have unlimited cash, so I won't be shelling out for the 975 any time soon either . . .
    22
  • Dustpuppy
    Those game results look like you ran into serious GPU limits. As a result I think you may have been showing a difference in motherboards rather than processors on some of those tests. That does make it an interesting result in other ways though. It looks like the i7 boards have room to mature a little bit more relative to the older tech.
    4
  • Summer Leigh Castle
    Who said that AMD holds the crown in performance? I think any half witted enthusiast who hasn't been hiding underneath a rock for the past year knows that the i7 (and even the core 2 duo in some test) is king. I would hope that people who visit tomshardware or rather any tech website knows that in terms of highend power, AMD doesn't come close to Intel at all.
    3
  • cangelini
    DustpuppyThose game results look like you ran into serious GPU limits. As a result I think you may have been showing a difference in motherboards rather than processors on some of those tests. That does make it an interesting result in other ways though. It looks like the i7 boards have room to mature a little bit more relative to the older tech.


    Likely, yes. If you look back to this doozy of a benchmark-fest, you'll see it isn't under you add a second or third GTX 280 that i7 starts putting on some distance. Up until then, though, it's worth noting that the other two platforms (Core 2 and Phenom) are actually faster!
    3
  • doomtomb
    Really, any of the i7 processors besides the 920 seems like a waste because of the marginal performance increases for exponential price hikes. I was especially alarmed by the DDR3 memory results. There is the synthetic benchmark advantage of higher bandwidth at higher speeds but absolutely no difference across the board ranging from 1066 to 2133 in real world encoding or what not.

    Pretty absurd, I think I'd just stick with the 920 @ 3.8GHz and some affordable DDR3 1600MHz memory.
    8
  • cadder
    Do these higher end chips have higher overclock ability than the 920?
    -1
  • ohim
    Summer Leigh CastleWho said that AMD holds the crown in performance? I think any half witted enthusiast who hasn't been hiding underneath a rock for the past year knows that the i7 (and even the core 2 duo in some test) is king. I would hope that people who visit tomshardware or rather any tech website knows that in terms of highend power, AMD doesn't come close to Intel at all.

    king to what ? a few nutcases that for 1 more fps will go and pay 700+ more $ ? even in the Video editing business let`s say .. nobody will go and buy those CPUs they don`t add to the $ and given the current crysis situation there won`t bee to many studios willing to throw out the window the price of a fully working station just to get a new CPU. For me now the Kings still are Intel`s i7 920 and AMD`s PII 955.
    4
  • ravenware
    Quote:
    If you spend enough time in our comments section, then you’re probably under the impression that AMD currently holds the performance crown and can do no wrong. I get it; AMD is the underdog and it’s hip to applaud competition. I'm certainly in favor of faster hardware, lower prices, and fair capitalism; those things benefit us all.


    WTF?

    I have yet to see anyone make such a claim and definitely not in mass.

    I have seen AMD Phenom II x3 720 dubbed the price to performance champion.
    6
  • Tindytim
    cadderDo these higher end chips have higher overclock ability than the 920?

    The 965 and 975 have an unlocked multiplier, so yes. By how much? I'm not sure.

    Is it going to be worth the $1000 price tag.
    -1
  • Sinj
    Lol, this 975 only clocks 120mhz fast than my 920 D0 with no volts and it is much cooler at 60degrees at load
    -1
  • ohim
    TindytimThe 965 and 975 have an unlocked multiplier, so yes. By how much? I'm not sure.Is it going to be worth the $1000 price tag.

    that`s what i was trying to point out in my previous comment but somebody out there instead of getting 3 x i7 920 they rather spend it all on only 1 cpu :) so i put the question again king to what ? i rather have 3 computers powered by i7 920 than having only one i7 975, for an editing studio that means 3 ppl working at the same time doing 3 times much more work than 1 guy :) These CPUs are not only for show an marketing to throw at ppl that they can realy crush AMD(but not in the games section where`s no logical reason to buy those) but very few ... too few will actualy buy those in the near future, and btw encoding is done with the guy afk from the pc you don`t sit at the PC ... i rather spend 700$ less and enjoy 2 more beers till my encoding is done ... at least this is how i see it.
    0
  • cangelini
    ravenwareWTF?I have yet to see anyone make such a claim and definitely not in mass.I have seen AMD Phenom II x3 720 dubbed the price to performance champion.


    I'm being facetious about the performance. But look at the comments in the most recent SBM. Three separate authors independently pick Intel platforms and suddenly there's a conspiracy going on ;-)
    -1
  • apache_lives
    its stupid comparing this to a Phenom II when the Phenom II isnt priced anywhere near the same as the Intel part - the Core i5's will address this whole area and "compete" with with the Phenom II's etc as a mainstream part and as the Core 2 replacement.
    -1
  • anamaniac
    It would be nice to know what Toms can crank the i7 875 up to with a decent water cooling setup. I just read an article on another site were a guy reached 2200+ ddr3 successfully and 4.6GHZ on a D0 i7 920.
    Some of us like to see what the limits are. :)

    If the possible overclock gains are ignorable, if at all existent, I think the 920 will hopefully be my next baby if not a i5. The money saved on getting a 920 D0 over a 975 would pay for a sweet liquid cooling setup. Or maybe I should get a job again...
    0
  • SpadeM
    cangeliniI'm being facetious about the performance. But look at the comments in the most recent SBM. Three separate authors independently pick Intel platforms and suddenly there's a conspiracy going on ;-)


    I know that by now I sound like a broken record but u guys make the conspiracy possible. I mean look at the gaming benchmarks between Phenom 2 and i7 and Core... at first glance one would think "damn didn't know AMD was that fast" but that is a false impression. You guys made an article a couple of weeks ago stating that the i7+X58 doesn't play nice with Nvidia graphics, and you proved it. But despite that you keep on using a geforce 260 knowing it will perform lower when pair with the i7 (that is why on the LGA quad and Phenom 2 things look much better)
    And so you fuel the AMD vs Intel flame war that's going on. Please, make it clear once and for all, do a special article or something, write it with BIG LETTERS: 2 systems, i7 + nvidia and then a ati offering and a phenom system + nvidia and a ati offering.
    2