Intel K Spec Core i7 875 and Core i5 655 Reviewccokeman - May 27, 2010
Price: I5 655 - $216 - i7 875 - $342
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Overclocking Intel processors has been strictly bclock (previously FSB) affair for quite some time with the multipliers being locked at whatever was needed to meet the rated specification of the chip. That is unless you were one of the minority that bought the top of the line Extreme Edition processors that were unlocked and may very well have been made of unobtainium based on the pricing structure of the Extreme Edition. At 1000 bucks and up (in the past) these chips were the only ones in the product stack that had "Unlocked" multipliers to allow the user the opportunity to maximize their overclock by working with both the clock multiplier and core clock speeds.In this regard the folks at AMD have really catered to the market with the Black Edition CPUs that are unlocked and sold in large quantities to satisfy a need while trying to bring in more of the market sector. Heck they even put out a Limited Edition high leakage chip called the "TWKR" to push the brand identification level higher in the overclocking community.
But I digress as this is not an article about AMD processors, but the new K-Spec unlocked CPU's from Intel, the Core i5 655 and i7 875. These "Overclocking Enabled" processors allow for added flexibility when it comes time to overclock your CPU if you are so inclined. You gain the ability to increase the multiplier without impacting memory speed or the base clock frequency of 133Mhz to reach for the limits of the processor. Now these processors are not being released tonight, but expect them to be available soon enough. Let's take them both for a spin and see how they perform in relation to the current crop of Intel's processors.
These two processors arrived in the typical, non-retail packages and are clearly marked as to whats inside the little black boxes. These two processors are updates to existing packages in order to meet the needs of the enthusiast market by unlocking core clock multipliers, memory ratios and voltage options. Usually good things come in little black boxes (according to my wife anyway). So let's see if my wife's logic applies here.
First up is the Intel Core i5 655. This "Overclocking Enabled" dual core, socket 1156 processor is built using Intel's 32nm High-k second generation manufacturing process. The two cores support Intel's hyper threading technology, giving you a total of four threads that can be run simultaneously. Base clock speed for this processor comes in at 3.2Ghz. For the $40 premium ($216) over the run of the mill i5 650 ($176), you get unlocked clock multipliers, additional power options and an increase in the available memory ratios. This chip features 4MB of Intel Smart Cache, supports two channels of DDR3 memory at 1333MHz, Turbo Boost technology, as well as Intel HD Graphics or a discrete graphics package. Turbo Boost gives this processor the ability to run at an increased clock speed of up to 3.46GHz in lightly loaded situations to increase productivity when needed. This Intel processor is meant to be used in socket LGA 1156 motherboards using the Intel P55, H57 and H55 chipsets. As a dual core processor, the TDP comes in at a relatively low 73 watts.
The Core i7 875 is the unlocked and "Overclocking Enabled" step up from the i7 870 that should be a big hit with the enthusiast and overclocking crowds. Not with a big boost in clock speed, but in the availability of its unlocked bclock multipliers, memory ratios and the ability to increase the power limits on the processor. This chip is clocked at 2.93Ghz and fits right into the LGA socket 1156 motherboards already on the market. While the i5 655 is built on Intels 32nm process, the i7 875 is built using Intels 45 nm, Hi-K+metalgate process. Features on this little gem include Hyperthreading Technology that allows the four physical cores to run eight simultaneous threads and Intel Turbo Boost Technology to dynamically increase the clock speed to as high as 3.6GHz when running under the specified 95 watt power and thermal envelope. It has 8MB of shared Intel Smart Cache and supports two channels of DDR3 1333Mhz memory. The pricing on the Core i7 870 is currently $569 at popular e-tailors but this processor is to retail for only $342. That is over 200 bucks cheaper than what the top dog in the socket 1156 stable is going for.
Pretty pictures don't tell all the story, but having the ability to manipulate more options is always a good thing for the enthusiast crowd. Let's dig deeper.