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Intel Core i7 930 CPU review - busting through 4GHz

by Tarinder Sandhu on 1 March 2010, 08:16 4.0

Tags: Core i7 930 OC (25/02/10), SCAN, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qawc6

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An obvious replacement

Building on momentum - Core i7 920

In spite of recent mid-range processor releases from Intel - Core i7 860 and 870 on the LGA1156 form factor - and the undeniable value presented by AMD's Phenom II X4 965 BE, the Core i7 920, released in November 2008, remains a keen favourite with the knowledgeable enthusiast.

The '920 chip is hewn from the same architecture found on the £750 Core i7 975 Extreme Edition, and our performance numbers have shown it to be a consummate performer in a wide variety of benchmarks. Helped on by a native quad-core design that's augmented with hyperthreading; an integrated memory-controller; triple-channel memory support; provision for Turbo Boost, and the benefits of the 45nm Nehalem process, the latest iteration of the CPU, D0 stepping, is a potent overclocker, too.

Paired up with a low-cost X58 board (£140) and 6GB of DDR3-1,600 (£130), the bundle will set you back just under £500 - not cheap by any means, sure, but delivering performance in spades, especially when overclocked. It's not all perfect, though, as the Turbo Boost feature is rather basic when compared to the newer LGA1156 chips', and under-load power-draw remains high.

More of the same - Core i7 930

So what's different with the new chip? Very little, really. The Core i7 920's multiplier is raised one notch, from 20x to 21x, facilitating, via the 133MHz BCLK, a basic clock-speed of 2.80GHz - up from 2.67GHz.

Chip Cores/threads Frequency L2 cache L3 cache Turbo Boost* IC link Process Memory support TDP Price
Intel Core i7 920 4/8 2.67GHz 1MB 8MB 1/1/1/2 4.8GT/s, QPI 45nm TC, DDR3-1,066 130W £215
Intel Core i7 930 4/8 2.80GHz 1MB 8MB 1/1/1/2 4.8GT/s, QPI 45nm TC, DDR3-1,066 130W £215
Intel Core i7 975 EE 4/8 3.33GHz 1MB 8MB 1/1/1/2 6.4GT/s, QPI 45nm TC, DDR3-1,066+ 130W £750
Intel Core i7 860 4/8 2.80GHz 1MB 8MB 1/1/4/5 2.5GT/s, DMI 45nm DC, DDR3-1,333 95W £220
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 4/4 3.40GHz 2MB 6MB N/A 2GHz, HT3 45nm DC, DDR3-1,600 125W £135

* based on single/dual/triple/quad-core usage, TDP permitting.

The brief table reinforces that there is very little to differentiate the Core i7 930 from the Core i7 920; the chip represents an entirely predictable move for keeping AMD's increasing-frequency Phenom II X4 parts firmly entrenched below the £150 mark.

Vital stats indicate that the new chip will, at best, eke out a five per cent lead over the incumbent. Enthusiasts will be keen to see how it scales once overclocked, and it's something we investigate during this review.