"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh" (Breathes a sigh of relief). The past month or so has been hell for some of us here at Overclock3D. Yes, yes we know that you have absolutely no sympathy, but having had a chance to spend a day with Intel's new kid on the block, the i7 (codename: Nehalem), we've received a stupendous number of requests from readers and forum members asking us if it's all it's been hyped up to be, and generally trying to manipulate us in every which way possible just to obtain a glimpse at some of the results.
For those of you who are regular readers, you will already know that we've extensively covered details of its architecture in our recent 4 page article
, compressed after spending a full 8 hours with Intel flipping through slides in a presentation. We've also previewed some of ASUS' upcoming X58 based motherboards: the P6T
and Rampage II Extreme,
along with fishing out some tasty images
of motherboards from other manufacturers dotted around the net.
Now, finally the NDA has been lifted and today we can give you all exactly what you've been waiting for: BENCHMARKS. That's right, no technical mumbo-jumbo, no dissecting of the chip and pointing out body parts, just that collection of numbers that most of us overclockers and enthusiasts base our next purchase upon.
Listed below you will find details of each of the three systems we used for testing. We wanted each system to represent a sector of the market, and hopefully a system close to what most of our readers currently own. Starting with the ultra-high-end we obviously have the Core i7 setup, moving down to the high-end is a QX9650 setup and finally somewhere in the mid-range is a Q6600 setup. We also intended to test each configuration in both SLI and Crossfire configurations (after all this is a big selling feature of the X58), but unfortunately due to a lot of BSOD's with two 4870x2's and only a 6-hour window to play with the chip, we had to settle for the results of a single GPU only.
As per usual with all Overclock3D reviews, a fresh install of Windows Vista x64 SP1 was used after every motherboard swap-out and for the purpose of obtaining some 'stock performance' benchmarks, every performance-related setting in each of the BIOSes was left at its automatic value. So now that we've got those prerequisites out of the way, let's take a look at the rest of the system specs:
The Core i7 Extreme 940 @ 2.94GHz
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage II Extreme
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24 3x2GB 1.5v
Graphics: ASUS EAH4870x2
Hard Disk: Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB
Cooling: Stock Intel ES Cooler
GPU Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.10
Our Core i7 setup was kitted out with three sticks of 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 (total 6GB) obviously giving the setup a bit of a head-start over our other test systems. However, the jump from 4GB to 6GB in most applications and games is negligible, whereas the alternative configuration of 3x1GB (3GB) may well have crippled the i7 system slightly once the memory-hungry Vista had taken its share of the resources.