People are calling Intel's new Core i7 975 Extreme Edition the world's fastest desktop processor. ZDNet's own Hardware 2.0 guru, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, calls it a "monster CPU" that's "eye-wateringly expensive." But does it really stand up to the test?
I've assembled the best reviews around the web and summarized them, Zagat-style, so you can judge for yourself:
"Results were so linear and predictable, that we're rather impressed at the efficiency...offered more headroom in top-end clock speed versus previous iterations of the architecture...does the Core i7 975 offer earth-shattering performance over its Core i7 965 predecessor? Not at all really, but more of a very good thing."
"Thousand dollar processors aren't for everyone, or even for most, but if you want what is without a doubt the world's fastest desktop processor, the new Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition is the one you want. Save those pennies, get some high frequency memory and solid motherboard with lots of BIOS options and then overclock your heart away; you won't be disappointed."
"Intel's Core i7 975 is the absolute fastest processor you can buy regardless of workload...results are particularly impressive...delivers extremely powerful single-threaded performance....our major issue...does not nearly justify its price...AMD doesn't really compete in this space so there's not much to be said for competition...Nehalem's biggest competitors are itself."
"Don't let the fanboys fool you—Intel's Core i7 is the fastest CPU out there, which is why, even after giving our readers a chance to weigh in and guide the direction of our System Builder Marathon series, two of the three builds ended up based on Core i7-920 CPUs...I don't have any problem recommending Core i7 over Phenom II right now—even if it costs an extra $100."
The Guru of 3D
"The move from 965 to 975 is an awfully small step in the evolution of this processor architecture...it surely brings more performance for the same amount of money...amount of money is still as shocking as its performance...you need to put a full G on the table to be able to purchase this processor...Core i7 is a majestic processor series...[if you] consistently encode/transcode multimedia files...it won't get any better than this...in a normal situation with normal daily usage of the PC...you will not benefit from a processor clocked this fast."
"Intel had no reason to release the Core-i7 975 Extreme Edition. The existing 965 CPU was still the fastest performing processor available with AMD's Phenom 2 range unable to offer a product which could compete...a processor which runs faster than the existing i7 range when all are at their reference speeds...this particular model does so with lower temperatures than the model it replaces...professionals who invest the extra money in this CPU will significantly increase their productivity when compared to the Phenom 2 or i7-920."
"Power efficiency is at the forefront of many consumers' minds today, and for good reason...CPUs are getting faster, and use less power, and hopefully things will stay that way...the differences are minute...I hit 4.2GHz with absolutely minimal effort...the i7-950 is an interesting beast."
"Performance in rendering was very impressive and cannot be overlooked, but...if you are doing media encoding or are a gamer there is not much to be had with this CPU...overclocking was a little bit of a disappointment... for the majority of us, the i7 975 is still a little on the expensive side and the gains might not be worth the extra cost."
"You may get the impression that there is nothing special about the launch of Core i7-975 XE and i7-950...[changes have] hardly affected the performance...performance gain is barely noticeable...a 133MHz frequency increase didn't affect the power consumption and heat dissipation levels at all...4.0GHz frequency is an easily attainable goal for the new Core i7 CPUs, even with just air-cooling involved...[they] don't boast any significant improvements, they offer a bunch of useful little things."
"Our benchmarks show it to beat out the previous champion by around five percent, and take over the title of fastest desktop chip in the world, helped by the fact that it overclocks well, too...the value proposition is practically non-existent, and it will only appeal to those with ultra-deep pockets."
"At stock voltage, our Core i7-975 Extreme sample maxed out at 3.86GHz (29x133.6) when OC'ing. Anything beyond that and stability began to become an issue...we could actually push the processor even higher and run some benchmarks, but we couldn’t get complete stability in everything we like to run for testing."
And of course, don't forget to read aggregated reviews of Intel's Core i7 965 processor here on ZDNet.
Read a review not included here? Leave it for everyone's benefit in the comments.