Hump Day Hardware: Intel Core i7 Processor

January 14, 2009

As we cover hardware in the next few installments, I’m going to look at the guts of the computer. This week I’ll cover the latest processors. Next week I’ll look at motherboards for those processors. The following week I’ll look at memory chips to go with the motherboards and the new processors. While I don’t have a set schedule after that, I’ll also try to look at things like power supplies and cases in future installments.

While I don’t expect you all to build your own machines, it is often good to at least know about some of the better parts available. If you don’t mind putting together a few parts, you might just enjoy building a new machine or upgrading your current machine.

In the world of processors, there are two major players making chips for Windows-based machines: Intel and AMD. There have been times when AMD has produced processors that were the best choice based on performance and price. At this stage, I don’t feel AMD can compete with the latest from Intel and therefore I’m going to focus on the Intel Core i7 processors which debuted in the past couple of months.

I don’t have the time or resources to collect every chip out there and benchmark the results. I do read the results published by the mainstream magazines. It is quite clear that the Core i7 chips smoke every other chip on the market. To get the best performance, you do need to pair the chip with an appropriate motherboard, memory and other components.

If you think that buying a Core i7 will break the bank, you’ll be happy to know that the 2.66 GHz model has a list price of $395 and currently sells for under $300 on Amazon. If you follow those links, you’ll find a complete description of the features on the chip. The quick rundown is that it has four cores which can each by hyper-threaded so that your computer will think there are eight cores. You can even tell it to go into “turbo” mode when working on a task that needs maximum performance.

2.66 GHz may not be fast enough for you. Then again, no chip is ever fast enough for anyone. You can also get the chip in a 2.93 GHz model with a list price of $750, selling for under $570 on Amazon. Some of you want speed, no matter the cost. For that, the 3.2 GHz Extreme Edition is for you. It lists for $1350 and sells for just over $1000 on Amazon.

As always, these prices will go down over time and faster versions will appear. I typically buy a processor that is one to two steps down from the fastest available. This gives me something really fast, but I don’t have to pay a crazy premium to get it.

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2 Comments

  1. Rikk

    Why is Core sometimes spelled Corel in this blog entry?

    Reply
  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Good catch Rikk. 🙂 I have fixed as many as I could find. My fingers are just so trained to put an “l” after “Core” that I continually got it wrong. I fixed a number of them but obviously didn’t get all of them.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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