Review Index:

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield Processor Review - Best value in processors?

Author: Ken Addison
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Testing Methodology and System Setup

Highlighted from our previous Lynnfield review:

The release of Intel's new Lynnfield processors comes well timed near
the release of the upcoming Windows 7 operating system and as such you
will see we have migrated the entire lineup of benchmarks and testing
from Vista to Windows 7 for this review.  The move was completely
painless - every benchmark and application ran 100% as we expected it
to and with the same amount of stability and reliability we had come to
find under Vista, if not better!  I tested it all using the 64-bit
variant of the RTM version found on our TechNet subscription.

For our testing purposes, we obviously pitted the new Core i7-870
and Core i5-750 (and now Core i7-860) against the most appropriate hardware we had around. 
On the list were the Core i7-975 and Core i7-920 processors; this
allows us to compare Lynnfield to both the FASTEST desktop CPU on the
market today (i7-975) and to by far the most popular Nehalem CPU
available (i7-920).  From Intel's Core 2 line I selected the Q9650
processor as it is the fastest Core 2 Quad part available today as well
as the Q8400 since its price point matches up perfectly with that of
the $199 Core i5-750.  Finally, AMD is represented solely by the Phenom
II X4 965 - the company's fastest desktop CPU offering.

We used the ASUS Maximus III Formula
motherboard for all our Lynnfield testing and it proved not only to be
a stable basis from which to gauge the CPUs success, but also a great
overclocker in our quick and dirty testing. 

move to Lynnfield did mean we had to revisit another test setup issue
from the first Nehalem review - memory capacities.  Since Nehalem uses
a triple-channel memory we need either 3GB (3 x 1GB) or 6GB (3 x 2GB)
configurations compared to the dual-channel memory controllers on the
Lynnfield, Core 2 and Phenom test beds.  In the end the resolution was
the same: Nehalem gets 6GB of memory and the other competitors get 4GB
of memory as it seemed like the most likely configurations our readers
and end users would be using. 

had actually been a while since I had done any extensive CPU testing,
and with the move to a new operating system, decided to update our
benchmark suite to all the latest application versions available as
well as add in a couple new ones (7-Zip compression and Left 4 Dead,
for example).  As for gaming testing, I took some feedback from our
readers and decided to include BOTH low resolution testing like
1024x768 to see CPU scaling results as well as include much more
real-world resolutions like 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 to see how these
CPUs will actually affect gaming.

So how does this middle-of-the-road processor fit into the world of Lynnfield, Nehalem, Phenom and Core 2?  Let's take a look at the benchmarks!

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