Note: This article was not condoned or supported in any way by Intel. We obtained all pre-release hardware on our own. Enjoy.

The Recap

Yeech, ok, this is more complicated than it should be. Last year Intel launched its brand new Nehalem architecture, the first processor was codenamed Bloomfield and sold as the Core i7.


Nehalem - Bloomfield, aka Core i7

The Core i7 has four cores (with Hyper Threading, so that’s 8 threads), an 8MB L3 cache and a triple-channel DDR3 memory controller. Of course there’s a lot of other special sauce that makes the i7 the beast that it is; if you want more details check out my original Nehalem architecture article.

Since its launch, i7 has only been available in three flavors: the 920, 940 and 965. The most affordable one, the i7-920, costs $284 in 1Ku quantities.

Processor Clock Speed Cores / Threads Maximum Single Core Turbo Frequency TDP Price
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme 3.20GHz 4 / 8 3.46GHz 130W $999
Intel Core i7-940 2.93GHz 4 / 8 3.20GHz 130W $562
Intel Core i7-920 2.66GHz 4 / 8 2.93GHz 130W $284

 

The Core i7 fits into Intel’s new LGA-1366 socket and is mated with Intel’s X58 chipset:

With the memory controller on-die, the X58 chipset acts like a PCIe switch than anything else; all other I/O (e.g. USB, SATA, Ethernet, etc...) go through the ICH10 which is connected to the X58 hub.

Despite being a relatively simple piece of silicon, Intel prices the X58 chipset as a premium product. The X58 chipset is more expensive than any other desktop Intel chipset on the market, that includes P45 and X48. In turn, X58 motherboards are pricey.

At launch X58 motherboards sold for well above $200 and it took a while for us to see boards finally drop down to and below that $200 price point. Only recently have we found a motherboard that’s even somewhat affordable with MSI’s X58M priced at $169.

With a $200 motherboard and a $284 CPU, the i7 was priced out of competing with even AMD’s highest end Phenom II. While the Phenom II X4 955 costs $245, you can easily pair it with a $100 motherboard.

Rather than drive LGA-1366 pricing down, Intel had another plan - to introduce a more mainstream platform for Nehalem.

Making Nehalem Affordable: LGA-1156
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  • Depeche - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Man thats ancient ... ya I would defiantly wait for the Core i5s. To get a Core i7 just doesn't seem worth it now with the Core i5's coming out. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    i7 still makes sense if you plan on

    a) SLI/CF

    b) dual-CPU

    c) memory bandwidth intensive tasks (seeding torrents, folding@home, etc) where triple channel makes some sense

    d) the need for 6 memory slots

    e) something currently purchasable

    I also suspect the release of "i5" chips will drive down prices of i7, specifically the i7-920, the most desirable i7. Keeping in mind the i7-920's overclocking ability, it is still much more capable than the "i5" even if you assume the "i5" overclocks as well, because the i7 has Jackson technology active across its entire lineup.
    Reply
  • DJMiggy - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    I swear I read that the i7 doesn't support dual CPUs. Maybe that has changed with xeons though or I might just be insane. Probably the latter. Reply
  • wifiwolf - Sunday, May 31, 2009 - link

    i7 system is too expensive, cpu is also expensive but system is too overpriced. Reply
  • Jabbernyx - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    ^ This, although for me personally (b) isn't important and I've effectively nerfed (d) by using an EX58-UD3R :P Reply

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