As you may have read, we are impressed by Intel's Core i7 965 Extreme Edition desktop processor. It's fast not only because of the chip itself, but also because of the changes Intel made to the way it interacts with your system memory. Such chip-specific information is great for the DIY crowd, but what about those of you less inclined to build your own PC?
We've spent the better part of November reviewing Core i7-equipped desktops, five to be exact. The highest-end model, the $8,000 Falcon Northwest Mach V, set records on every desktop benchmark in our arsenal. The surprisingly affordable Dell Studio XPS and Gateway FX6800-01e also impressed us, not only with their relative speed, but by allowing up to six system memory sticks, in the case of the Dell, or by allowing you to add two 3D cards in an sub-$1,500 desktop with the Gateway. Both of those upgrade options speak well of the flexibility afforded by Intel's new Core i7-supporting X58 chipset. We also loved the Gateway's tricked-out chassis.
In between, we saw a Core i7-based Alienware Area-51 X58 with 2TB of traditional hard drive storage, as well as a pair of Samsung solid-state hard drives. That's a truly impressive amount of hardware, even for its $6,500 price tag. We just wish there was an overclocking option with that system. And finally, Velocity Micro's upper-midrange Edge Z55 impressed us as PCs from that company often do, with its workman-like design and superior performance for the dollar.
Anyone shopping for a performance PC this holiday will make their loved ones happy with any of these Core i7-based desktops, but we're also eager to see what AMD has to show us with its next CPU update, the Phenom II X4 due out early next year. Until we see what those new chips and systems look like, your best bet is a Core i7 CPU or a desktop that uses it.