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Intel Core i7-975 Extreme And i7-950 Reviewed

Intel Core i7-975 Extreme And i7-950 Reviewed
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Intel doesn’t need to launch a pair of new CPUs today. Its thousand dollar Core i7-965 Extreme is already the fastest chip out there by a comfortable margin. Its five hundred-something dollar Core i7-940 slides into second place without an issue. And the company’s entry-level Core i7, the 920, is reasonably priced to the point where it fits into our $1,300 System Builder Marathon parts list (and of course, it also helps that the 2.66 GHz chip approaches 4 GHz with some regularity).

Nevertheless, the company is taking advantage of Computex to launch a pair of fresh Core i7s—the 975 Extreme and the 950. Given their names, you’d think that these newcomers would fall into place on either side of the i7-965. But that’s not the plan at all. Instead, Intel says the i7-975 Extreme will replace the 965 at its exorbitant $1,000 price point and the i7-950 will replace the 940 at $562.

For the time being, 940s will probably float around in the channel at reduced prices. But with i7-920s still the overclocking darlings for less than $300, even a discounted i7-940 would still cost more than we’d be otherwise willing to pay for it.

i7-920, i7-965, and i7-975i7-920, i7-965, and i7-975

Things Change / Stay The Same

The last time we reviewed a Core i7 processor was the Nehalem architecture’s launch in November of last year. Back then, the infrastructure supporting i7 was decidedly high-end. A handful of $300-$400 motherboards were pretty much it, and 1.65V DDR3 triple-channel memory kits were still brand new.

Fortunately, much has changed. There are at least four X58-based motherboards selling for less than $200. Six gigabyte DDR3 memory kits are selling for well under $100 now. And even the entry-level (for the i7 family, that is) 920 has dropped a bit down to $279. Of course, those price points only matter if you’re in the market for Core i7 as cheap as you can find it.

Core i7-975 Extreme and Core i7-950 are not in the same category. The i7-975, specifically, is for the enthusiast who wants a guaranteed 3.3 GHz+ clock rate, to know he’s getting the D0 stepping, and doesn’t mind shelling out the same $999 that, yesterday, would have bought a 3.2 GHz i7-965 Extreme.

The i7-950 puts 133 MHz on its predecessor, but still remains the middle-child. At $562, the i7-950 costs $280 more than the i7-920 and runs well within reach of every 920 overclock we’ve ever seen—even the retail chips that have come through our lab. Thus, we’re not going to spend a ton of time on the i7-950 (though you will see it in all of the benchmark charts).

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    burnley14 , June 3, 2009 4:32 AM
    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 . . .
  • 18 Hide
    smithereen , June 3, 2009 4:15 AM
    I've never seen anyone saying that the Phenom II is faster than any Core i7...
  • 15 Hide
    cruiseoveride , June 3, 2009 4:28 AM
    Doesn't make any difference with games
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    smithereen , June 3, 2009 4:15 AM
    I've never seen anyone saying that the Phenom II is faster than any Core i7...
  • 15 Hide
    cruiseoveride , June 3, 2009 4:28 AM
    Doesn't make any difference with games
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , June 3, 2009 4:29 AM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    Tindytim , June 3, 2009 4:29 AM
    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?
  • 10 Hide
    cangelini , June 3, 2009 4:31 AM
    Not enough to warrant spending an extra $200 or more, in my opinion.
  • 22 Hide
    burnley14 , June 3, 2009 4:32 AM
    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 . . .
  • 4 Hide
    Dustpuppy , June 3, 2009 4:40 AM
    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.
  • 3 Hide
    Summer Leigh Castle , June 3, 2009 4:43 AM
    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 Hide
    cangelini , June 3, 2009 4:54 AM
    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!
  • 8 Hide
    doomtomb , June 3, 2009 4:56 AM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , June 3, 2009 5:43 AM
    Do these higher end chips have higher overclock ability than the 920?
  • 4 Hide
    ohim , June 3, 2009 6:03 AM
    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.
  • 6 Hide
    ravenware , June 3, 2009 6:31 AM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    Tindytim , June 3, 2009 6:33 AM
    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 Hide
    Sinj , June 3, 2009 6:36 AM
    Lol, this 975 only clocks 120mhz fast than my 920 D0 with no volts and it is much cooler at 60degrees at load
  • 0 Hide
    ohim , June 3, 2009 6:42 AM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    cangelini , June 3, 2009 6:53 AM
    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 Hide
    apache_lives , June 3, 2009 7:42 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , June 3, 2009 8:05 AM
    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...
  • 2 Hide
    SpadeM , June 3, 2009 8:17 AM
    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.
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