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Who Needs a Core i7?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/14/2008

Eventually, almost every performance oriented user will move from Core 2 to Core, but whether you do it now or later depends largely on the types of applications you run. We don’t just mean if your apps use hardware intensely in general - the benefits are dependent on how well the apps multi thread.

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    4 GHz Looks Likely

    Core-i7 Core 2s are great overclockers, and it looks like the i7s do an at least reasonable job of carrying the torch. Most testers reported getting the 965XE to 4 GHz with very no or very modest voltage increases, and could also get the 920 to run at 3.2 GHz: specifically, as fast a stock 965XE. Note that, as is customary for Intel CPUs, the Extreme has unlocked multipliers, while the 940 and 920 only let you play with clocks.

    Also keep in mind that overclocking Core i7 will be quite different from what you are used to, since QPI and the CPU integrated memory controller replace the Front Side Bus. Finally, don’t forget that these are results based on test kits distributed by Intel, and they probably didn’t just pull CPUs and motherboards off the fabrication lines at random. As always when overclocking, there is no guarantee your purchase will perform as well or even comparably to others using identical equipment.

    Now, with no further ado, our shopping recommendations for…

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    Web-Surfing, Email, Office Use

    Seeing as the cheapest i7 and an X58 motherboard alone will run north of 600 USD, and a $600 dollar computer from a consumer electronics store will perform common office and internet browsing applications respectably, there is no financially sound reason to move to the Core architecture if you use your computer primarily for these tasks.

    Then again, there is no financially sound reason to own a car that goes from 0 to 3 times the posted speed limit in 6 and half seconds, but they appeal to many people. Furthermore, the computer is far less likely to land you in court or the hospital, so if you want the best and fastest even if you don’t strictly need it, Core is the best and fastest.

    If your computing budget is more practical than recreational, then your existing computer is probably good enough. If you are looking for a new PC, an Intel LGA 775 platform from the last four years, or AMD Socket 939 platform, with an entry-level Core 2 or Phenom, respectively, will keep up with your needs for years to come. Plus, as the sharp end of Intel moves towards Core and AMD puts out more Phenoms, you will have plenty of inexpensive upgrade options.

    The next article recommends upgrade and purchase options to the professional or amateur Graphics Renderer, Audio/Video Editor, and those running numerically intensive research applications.