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Intel Core i7 950 & 975 Extreme Edition Review

Date: 2009-6-4

[Abstract]
   A Small Step ForwardThe past few months have seen AMD restore some semblance of competition in the mainstream and even performance enthusiast CPU segments. The Phenom II has undoubtedly been a ...

[Content] PCDigitalMobileGame

Status Quo

With AMD unlikely to challenge the high-end consumer CPU segment in the near future, Intel's Core i7 has no rival to speak of. Instead, its greatest enemy has been itself. What with the relatively high price that Intel demands for its technology, it's safe to say that Core i7 sales are not exactly driving the market yet.

Fortunately for Intel, its dual and quad-core Core 2 processors are still sufficient to fend off AMD in the mainstream segment, though the dual-core processors are slowly looking outnumbered in today's increasingly multi-threaded applications. This situation is analogous to consumer sticking to Windows XP and not upgrading to Vista, notwithstanding the negative impressions that Vista had generated among the media and tech community.

In this case, Intel's Core 2 processors are more than adequate while the Core i7 ones remain too pricey for the majority and appeal only to tech enthusiasts with deeper coffers. As with the Windows analogy, this ends with us waiting for Intel's 'Windows 7', which turns out to be the Core i5 that's rumored to be delayed to September from its original July launch. Rumor (courtesy of DIGITIMES) also has it that this was to help clear older inventory of Core 2 motherboards. That's probably not surprising given the fact Intel has played this sort of tactic in the past; more so now since there's no urgency for the Core i5 to debut now.

This brings us to the two new Core i7 processors launched today. Expected to replace the Core i7-965 Extreme Edition and 940 eventually, these processors have small clock speed boosts over the older versions and from our testing, they brought about performance that was linear to their clock speed increments. Power consumption during idle appeared to be slightly improved in these processors though the differences, depending on work load type, were small when fully loaded. We also found the overclocking potential to be slightly higher.

With retail prices that are also similar to what their predecessors cost, it's really a case of a minor update in models and existing Core i7-965 and 940 users should not be concerned of their previous investment. Most savvy enthusiasts are probably using or considering a Core i7-920 anyway and their decision is likely unaffected by these newcomers. Mostly because the price disparity is very wide among the various Core i7 processors and the 920 model has decent overclocking headroom.

At the moment, it's business as usual for Intel and its Core i7 processors. Nothing much has changed with these new arrivals other than extending Intel's lead even further while we're still waiting for Core i5 to refresh the mainstream performance segment. Don't mistake our pessimism here. We're certainly glad that Intel is actually making an effort to improve both performance and power consumption matters (no matter how small) at about the same price point as its outgoing models. However, we can't ignore the face that the cost to acquire a new Core i7 platform is still quite a sum and these faster variants command an even higher premium with their limited availability. Then again, when ever have leading-edge products been affordable?



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