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Intel Core I7 Review

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The Intel I7 965 and 920 will be put through our series of benchmarks to see just what advantages they have over the current technology. Current being a relative term, what was current is last year's top of the line. Out with the old and in with the new. By downclocking the I7 965 I can show performance numbers for the I7 940 so these numbers will be included in this review for a comparison. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. Testing will include a direct comparison of several processors, including stock speed benchmarking. CPU clock speed will be kept at the manufacturer specified clock speed and multiplier for the baseline testing. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables. To eliminate the effects of the turbo mode I will manually configure the BIOS to turn off the dynamic overclocking features of the I7 and DX58SO motherboard. This will allow for a true representation of the processor at a set clock speed. What you can take from this is that the numbers shown in the testing section will be at the specific clock speeds that the processor is shipped with. This also lets you know that there is some performance above and beyond the level of performance shown in the benchmarks by using the dynamic overclocking features. The overclocking phase of the testing will be accomplished by using all of the available settings on the motherboard to gain the maximum clock speed and performance from the Core I7 processors. I will be comparing performance against processors that run at similar clock speeds to the Nehalem processors as well as a dual core CPU to show how a popular option for the gaming community fares against the latest and greatest from Intel.


Testing Setup I7:

  • Processor: Intel Core I7 965 133x24, Core I7 940 133x22, Core I7 920 133x20
  • Motherboard: Intel DX58SO Smackover X58
  • Memory: Qimonda 3x1GB DDR3 1066MHz 7-7-7-20 1.5v
  • Video Card(s): Palit HD4850
  • Power Supply: Mushkin 800watt Modular Power supply
  • Hard Drive: Intel X-25-M 80GB MLC SSD,1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
  • Opticals: LG DVD-RW
  • O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition


Testing Setup Core2:


Comparison CPUs:



Overclocked settings:

  • Processor: Intel Core I7 965 147x27, Core I7 920 155x20
  • Sytem Memory: Qimonda 3x1GB 9-8-8-24 735MHz (965), 621 MHz 7-7-7-20 (920)

Whenever there is a new technology on the block there are always the people that want to push the technology to its limits. Usually these are the early adopters so they are in essence the trailblazers when it comes to gaining the knowledge to maximize the technology. In the case of overclocking the Core I7 processors things are a little different, well a lot different, but some of the same old processes still prove fruitful. Overclocking the Intel Core I7 processors can be accomplished two ways, increasing the base clock from 133MHz or in the case of the unlocked core I7 965 you can combine both the base clock increase along with a clock multiplier increase. Additionally, the platform has what is called Turbo Boost technology. How this works is the CPU will upclock by increasing the base clock multiplier by one or two steps based on the computing load. So with a stock base clock frequency of 133MHz and multiplier of 20 the I7 920 runs at 2.66GHz, with the dynamic overclocking enabled (Turbo Boost) the base clock multiplier will increase to 22 for a nice clock speed increase of 266MHz to 2.93 GHz. The I7 965 can do this as well but the base clock multiplier can be increased much higher for a subsequent increase in clock speed. Pretty neat stuff when you think about it.

On the I7 965 Extreme the processor is unlocked so the multiplier can be increased substantially to increase the CPU speed without touching the base clock frequency while the I7 920 clock multiplier is locked at 20 so to really push the CPU you will need to push the base clock frequency to see an increase in performance. On the 965 I tried both increasing the base clock multiplier as well as the baseclock frequency to end up with a final stable speed of 3.970 GHz for my benchmark testing. This was accomplished by setting the base clock frequency to 147MHz with a clock multiplier of 27. Rather than using the voltage offset in the BIOS I set the voltage manually. To keep the CPU from throttling under load you can increase the "current limit" override as well as the "power limit" override in the DX58 Smackover motherboard BIOS. To increase the base clock frequency you can only go so far until you will need to add a little voltage to the IOH core voltage override and QPI voltage override in the bus override section of the BIOS. It's just a matter of learning the ins and outs of the BIOS and what the processor likes, 3.970GHZ and 3.100GHZ are what the two processors liked on air without cooking parts. Of course, no two chips are alike so your mileage may vary.






  • Scientific & Data:
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  3. SpecviewPerf 10
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  5. Sandra XII
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