|Intel Core i7 CPU & DX58SO X58 Platform|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Miles Cheatham - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 03 November 2008|
Page 12 of 12
Intel Core i7 Final Thoughts
After spending the better part of the last three days testing all of the components included in the Intel Core i7 kit, I'll reiterate what I said earlier in this article; we've only scratched the surface of what this technology has to offer. Given the sheer number of components involved we decided that it was virtually impossible to do them all justice in one review. For that reason we've decided to publish this as an informational article and not score any of the components. We fully intend to break the component systems down into more manageable reviews which we will present in the very near future. This approach in no way precludes me from giving you some more information couple with my true thoughts about each of the system's components which I plan to report categorically.
Intel Core i7 Processor Series
To say I liked the Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition would be a vast understatement as when it is released it will the fastest consumer-grade processor currently available. It is trailed very closely by the Core i7-940 processor which performance wise is within about 10% of the Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition with both running at stock speeds. Finally the Core i7-920 which is consistently within 15% of the Core i7-940 processor again running at stock speeds. One thing to remember is that term "stock speeds" as we didn't have the opportunity as of yet to overclock any of these processors or even try Turbo Mode which is available on the Intel DX58SO Extreme motherboard.
Now that we've discussed performance let's talk value. Just what are these new processors going to cost you and are they worth the cost? Intel has supplied us with the suggested MSRP and it breaks down as follows: $999.00 for the Core i7-965 Extreme, $562.00 for the Core i7-940, and $284.00 for the Core i7-920. From what I can tell the price breakdown is almost identical to the last major quad core release and the Core i7 processors will literally smoke them. From a value standpoint, if you're utilizing some heavily graphical intensive programs such as Photoshop, Auto CAD, or video editing software, these processors are just what the Doctor ordered. If you're a computer enthusiast that has to have best then these processors are right up your alley. If you're a general consumer that simply wants to upgrade your current system to something a bit faster, anything more than the Core i7-920 would probably be a waste of your hard earned dollars.
What about cooling? All three of the processors have a die size of 263 mm2, transistor count is 731M and a TDP of 130 Watts. Even with the 45nm die processing in use all of these factors still generate a lot of heat. In my testing of the Core i7-965 Extreme Edition I opted to try the stock Intel cooler which was provided in addition to the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme RT. The stock cooler yielded idle temps in the mid 40° Celsius range and load temps approaching 70° Celsius. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme RT kept temperatures in a much more reasonable range with temps in the low 30° Celsius range and load stayed well below 60° Celsius.
Intel Extreme Motherboard DX58SO
All of my previous experiences with Intel manufactured motherboards have been quite pleasant and the time I spent Intel Extreme Motherboard DX58SO was even better. Without having another X58 motherboards to compare it to I can't in good conscience say whether it's a great performer or not. Recent Intel manufactured motherboards have all been top tier and we have every expectation that this board will be as well. I can say that the DX58SO is manufactured quite well as it uses 8 layers for better rigidity and conductance. The board functioned flawlessly during testing but remember all three of the processors were tested at stock settings.
The overall layout of the board takes a bit of getting use to as a number of the component locations have changed. The only really objectionable location was that of an auxiliary 4-pin power connector which is located immediately adjacent to and just above the primary PCI-e slot. This location really wreaks havoc in connecting to if you have a case where the power supply mounts on the bottom.
Intel's BIOS options on the DX58SO 'Smackover' motherboard are as per usual well laid out, quite simple, and minimalistic in scope You can expect much more in the way of information concerning the Intel Extreme Motherboard DX58SO when we really put it through its paces when we begin the individual product reviews.
We at Benchmark Reviews would like to remind you that while this may be the end of this article it is the beginning of an exciting new era in computing. The Intel Core i7 Processor Series takes up where the Core 2 Quad and will firmly strengthen Intel's lofty position in the processor industry. Also remember to visit our site on a regular basis as we have a number of intense product reviews yet to come on this extremely exciting product line.
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