Of Mobos and Memory
Looking at benchmarks of the Core i7 processor may have made you decide that you're okay forking out the premium required to purchase a cutting-edge processor. After all, the slowest Core i7 920 can, in some situations, best the fastest Core 2 processors, and it only costs $300 dollars. That isn't cheap, but for a cutting-edge microprocessor, its a bargain. Afterall, an Intel Core 2 Quad with a similar clock speed is only thirty dollars less!
Considering the performance increase you may see from a Core i7 processor, the decision may seem like a no-brainer even if you don't often use software that will maximize the Core i7's performance. Not only will you receive a faster processor for your money, but you also get the bragging rights that come along with buying the latest and greatest hardware.
Ah, but wait - there is more to this story. As I said earlier, the Core i7 processor is only compatible with DDR3 RAM, and while DDR3 is the future, it still hasn't seen wide-spread adoption. This is because up until now, DDR3 RAM hasn't been widely supported by motherboard manufactures, and processors have worked fine using slower, cheaper DDR2 RAM. As a result, DDR3 RAM is still a premium product, and is very expensive to buy.
And there is more bad news for the value shopper. Not only does Core i7 adopt a new, more expensive memory standard, but it also adopts a new socket with 1366 pins, unlike the old Core 2 chips which used 775 pins. So far the new socket is only available on one motherboard chipset, the X58. The X58 is a premium chipset, aimed at power-users and hardcore enthusiasts with no concern for cost.
In summary, buying a Core i7 means paying for not only a premium, cutting-edge processor, but for a cutting edge motherboard and RAM kit. The problem with this is that while the Core i7 offers enough performance to justify its price, the motherboard and RAM do not.