The Bottom Line
- Excellent Memory Performance
- Good Price to Performance Ratio
- Great Overclocking Potential
- Requires Expensive LGA 1366 Motherboard Hardware
- Triple Channel Memory Configuration Necessary For Best Performance
- Intel Core i7-920 Nehalem Quad Core Processor
- 2.66GHz Operating Frequency
- 800MHz of 1033MHz Memory Bus Speed
- 8MB Shared Cache
- Support for SSE4 Instructions and EM64T 64-bit Extensions
- Hyperthreading For Eight Processing Threads
- 1.25v Operation
- 45nm Process
- Heatsink Included
- Three Year Warranty
Guide Review - Intel Core i7-920 Quad Core Desktop Processor
12/3/08 - Intel's new Core i7-920 processor is the lowest grade in their latest desktop processor that features some major architecture changes from the previous Core 2 models. The most notable of these is the integrated memory controller similar to what AMD has been doing for years with their Athlon and now Phenom processors. This moves control of the memory from a chip on the motherboard directly to the processor in order to boost performance.
Like the Core 2 Quad models, the Core i7-920 includes four processors on a single chip. The core's themselves run at a 2.66GHz clock speed that is similar to that of the Core 2 Quad Q9400 model. While the Core 2 models had 6MB of shared cache, the i7-920 upgrades that to 8MB but still retains a shared cache design unlike the cache per processor of the AMD processors. Hyperthreading is supported to give the system four additional virtual cores to operating 8 simultaneous threads.
In testing, the performance was a definite improvement, especially for the memory. While DDR3 memory is inherently faster, the integrated memory controller boosted performance anywhere from 30 to 50 percent over a DDR2. Of course, numbers like these also require a triple channel memory configuration of PC3-8500 DDR3 memory. If only two memory sticks are used instead of three, the performance drops lower.
The end result of the Core i7 is a major improvement to performance. To achieve this, Intel also needed to design a new chipset and pin layout making the i7 incompatible with previous Core 2 motherboards. This makes the processor not as viable as a upgrade for currently Core 2 users due to the increased cost of motherboard and memory as well. Still, if you are looking at building a new system, the Core i7-920 is a very strong performer that shouldn't be ignored.