The Good Fastest high-end desktop CPU; supporting motherboard supports both graphics card vendors' multicard technologies.
The Bad Requires an expensive new motherboard; chipset needs three memory sticks for maximum efficiency.
The Bottom Line Thanks to an expensive new motherboard requirement, Intel's new Core i7 desktop processors will remain enthusiast and professional-level parts until more affordable complementary hardware comes out later next year. Speed never comes cheap, however, and if you're willing to spend for it now, you'll find yourself in possession of the fastest CPU on the market.
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition
In the last few months you may have seen previews and news stories regarding Intel's new Core i7 desktop processor family, formerly known as Nehalem. Today, we're able to publish our impressions of Intel's new chip and ultimately its new platform. We've selected the flagship, $999 Core i7-965 Extreme Edition CPU to represent the Core i7 family, which at launch later this month will include three other processors, starting at $284. These new chips all require a new chipset, which will only exist at first by way of a very expensive new motherboard. We don't expect mainstream users will adopt Core i7 in any variation at first, at least until the motherboard prices come down. But the well-heeled performance hounds who do make the leap will enjoy the fastest consumer CPUs on the market.
Core i7 has enough architecture changes to require a brand new connection design between the chip and the motherboard. This is no small change, because Intel has stuck with the LGA775 (land grid array) chip socket since the days of Pentium 4. The new socket design, LGA1366, will not accept any older Intel CPUs, nor will Core i7 work on any older motherboards.
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