With Nehalem architecture, Intel raised the CPU performance bar to a level that AMD has not been able to reach yet. Now Intel pushes it up even further by dropping a new top CPU on the market. But, is it worth the money?
Looking back at the past seven months, the Core i7 965 Extreme Edition is arguably the fastest stock consumer level CPU you can purchase right now. It is quite simply a monster. When we first looked at the i7 965 we were amazed at its power and headroom. For the first time we saw Lightwave single frame 1080i renders in less than three minutes and that is something that had never happened before. In fact, the quad-core Core i7 at 3.2 GHz even beat out the fastest 3.2 GHz Octa-Core Mac Pros out at the time [their times were just over 3 minutes for the same frame].
So how do you top performance like that? Well if you are Intel - you tweak the core of the CPU and bump up the multiplier and you create a D0 stepping CPU that features improved performance, reduced power consumption and what is most important right now; more overclocking headroom.
We have been lucky enough to get our hands on one of these and put it together with a GigaByte X58 Extreme mainboard for some testing at stock and overclocked speeds. So sit back and relax, and in the event of a water landing the person next to you may double as a flotation device… Ok now that I have gotten that out of my system lets dive into the i7 975 Xtreme Edition CPU from Intel.
As we received this sample directly from Intel, we were unable to evaluate the packaging. However, we believe that most of our readers are aware with Intel's product packaging. The retail CPU will come inside a box manufactured with recyclable-friendly paper, while the plastic casing can be disposed in a separate bin [where available, Ed.].
Like stated before, we received the unit in an Intel standard evaluation CPU box - the retail experience would consist out of pulling the protective part of the retail box and removing the CPU and the cooler from the package. You would also get one of newly redesigned stickers for the case. If you're purchasing a product priced at 999 greenbacks, you might as well put the sticker on the case.
In our case, we simply applied ArticClean to prepare the IHS [Integrated Heat-Spreader or Heat-Sink] for installation, pulled up a lever on our GigaByte X58 Extreme motherboard, installed this sizeable CPU into the LGA-1366 processor socket, lowered the lever to lock the CPU in its place, positioned a Swiftec Apogee GTZ water-block and that concluded the installation part. Bear in mind that we do not see any point in shelling out a grand for the CPU if you're not going to cool it with best possible way. In our case, since the goal is long-term stability with the high overclock, the solution to our dilema was simple - install water-cooling inside the system.
As the D0 Stepping has been out for a couple of months we won’t delve into what is new there but will give you the dirty details on what you can expect performance wise from the new Bully on the Block.
The system we cobbled together for our testing was something of a beast, but that is to be expected if the CPU alone is a whole grand. We will experiment with the CPU in different platforms in the upcoming articles, but for now the goal was to compare progress made by Intel between i7 965 and 975 processors.
Intel Core i7 965 XE [C0 Stepping Engineering Sample]
Intel Core i7 975 XE [D0 Stepping Engineering Sample]
GIGABYTE X58 Extreme Mainboard [BIOS Version F8b]
6GB Qimonda Aneon DDR3 1600 [CL9]
6GB Kingston DDR3 1600 [used for overclocking testing]
2x Zotac GTX 280 AMP! Edition 1GB GDDR3 GPUs [SLI-mode turned on]
LSI MegaRAID PCIe card
2x Seagate Cheetah 15k RPM 147GB SAS Drives [RAID 0]
Cooler Master UCP 1100W power supply
Swiftech H20 220 Apex Ultima Kit [with Apogee GTZ for i7]
Cooler Master ATCS 840 Enclosure
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate RC1
Continued on the next pages, Synthetic and Real-world testing, Overclocking, Value.
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