Intel Core i5 And Core i7: Intel’s Mainstream Magnum Opus

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-920 (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1366, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Row 1 - Cell 0 Intel Core i7-870 (Lynnfield) 2.93 GHz, LGA 1156, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Row 2 - Cell 0 Intel Core i5-750 (Lynnfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1156, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Row 3 - Cell 0 Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (Yorkfield) 3.2 GHz, LGA 775, 1,600 MHz FSB, 12 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
Row 4 - Cell 0 Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S (Yorkfield) 2.83 GHz, LGA 775, 1,333 MHz FSB, 12 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
Row 5 - Cell 0 AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE (Deneb) 3.4 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardsAsus P6T (LGA 1366) X58/ICH10R, BIOS 0707
Row 7 - Cell 0 Gigabyte P55-UD6 (LGA 1156) P55, BIOS F3
Row 8 - Cell 0 Intel DX48BT2 (LGA 775) X48/ICH10R, BIOS 1902
Row 9 - Cell 0 Asus M4A79T Deluxe (AM3) 790FX/SB750, BIOS 1103
MemoryCorsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Row 11 - Cell 0 Corsair 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Hard DriveIntel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3 Gb/s
Row 13 - Cell 0 Intel SSDSA2MH080G1GN 80 GB SATA 3 Gb/s
GraphicsSapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100W
HeatsinkVigor Gaming Monsoon III LT
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 RTM
DirectXDirectX 11
Platform DriverIntel INF Chipset Update Utility
Graphics DriverCatalyst 9.8

Although we tested the Core i7 and Core i5 configurations on Gigabyte's P55-UD6, our Turbo Boost, Hyper-Threading, memory performance, and Windows 7 versus Vista power measurements were all taken on Intel's DP55KG motherboard.

Remember that we ran all of our gaming analysis separately in order to fit in single- and dual-card CrossFire and SLI configurations across two resolutions and seven different titles. That story can be found right here.

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Benchmarks and Settings
Audio Encoding
iTunesVersion: (64-bit), Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2 (32-bit), Audio CD ""Terminator II" SE, 53 min, wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s
Video Encoding
TMPEG 4.7Version: 4.7, Import File: "Terminator II" SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-Threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status=off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 (64-bit)Version: 2009 Service Pack 1, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
WinRAR 3.90Version 3.90 (64-bit), Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12.1Version 12.1, Compression=Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates filters
AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Virus scan of 334MB of compressed files
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memories, TV and Movies, and Productivity benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/MultiMedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • caamsa
    Dang! AMD better get their $4iT together. Now I need to decided between i7, i5 or phenom II when I do my next happens too fast. Looking forward to more reviews on the i5 and mb prices.
  • People need to be careful when comparing the i7-870 to a i7-920, alot of people pre-release were worried that the 1156 platform was going to dominate the 1366. However when you see the 870 out perform the 920 people need to remember that a 870 is double the price of a 920, and even when you factor in a motherboard a 920 setup comes out cheaper than a 870.

    Now the i5 750 on the other hand is great performance at a great price, and would certainly be the budget gamers new weapon of choice.

    I currently have an i7-920 setup which is my main rig and am very happy with it and not at all upset to the see the 870 outperform it (since the 870 would cost me twice as much). I also have had an i5 750 setup now for over a week (the 1156 processors and motherboards have been available here in Australia for nearly 2 weeks now) and it is an amazing processor for the price of it.

    So what am I trying to say? 1366 is still a good platform for the top end of the market. The i5 are fantastic new processors for their price, and the 1156 i7's are just confusing and I'm not really sure who they are going to appeal to? I could understand it if Intel launched the 1156 i7's in 6months time when alot of users are already using the 1156 platform and are looking to upgrade their CPU without a new mobo. But to anyone looking at getting a 870, just get an 920 and use the extra cash on the mobo and ram to go with it.
  • Nintendork
    A little confusing the charts.

    I would prefer a bench with HD4890. They scale better in CF.
  • aspireonelover
    I can tell, I'm gonna fall in love with the i5 processor
  • cabose369
    Intel needs to come up with a simplified naming system for their products. They are as bad as NVIDIA is right now in terms of naming their products.

    There is sooo much to learn and there is so much information here.... I feel confused!!
  • alikum
    Well, I just hope that the Core 2 Quads will drop in prices significantly so that I could grab the high-end one for my final LGA775 upgrade!
  • buzznut
    Well this is good news for consumers. I'm not certain why it took so long for Intel to make some mainstream proc like i5, but for intel fans it seems worth the wait.
    This will also compel AMD to bring some more value to the market. Nice article.
  • jawshoeaw
    damn, 150 watts at idle?? Is that just the cpu? I hope the gaming rigs built on these processors are not left on 24/7. My old AMD X2 3800 system including the monitor uses less than 150 watts at idle (50 of which is the 22" LCD).
  • unclewebb
    i7 Turbo is a good tool to monitor the multiplier of Core i5/i7 CPUs.

    It uses the method that Intel recommends in their November 2008 Turbo White Paper.
  • evolve60
    "Intel Core i7-920 Extreme (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1366, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled"

    Since when has the I7-920 become an extreme?