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Intel Core i7 875k: Worth the wait as we hit 4.8

Intel’s special ‘K’ edition CPU's were made available to the world’s top technology sites prior to launch and we have been working our samples harder than we’ve ever worked a CPU before. It's been serious business testing the best chip Intel's ever made. And that's what the Core i7 875 ‘Special K' Edition is.  The best chip ever.

Today we’re focused on presenting the KitGuru audience with our preliminary findings for Intel’s Core i7 875k and, as the headline tells you, the bottom line is that it held firm at 4.8Ghz on air!

That it ships with a stock clock of 2.93Ghz lets you know just how madly over-engineered these parts are.

Bear in mind that we achieved these clocks with the standard, reference, Intel-manufactured P55 chipset mainboard, where the BIOS had a lot of features – but not every little tweak and trick was exposed the way that us KitGuru’s like it. With a mature board from an aggressive 3rd party, there is a chance that Intel’s Core i7 875 ‘special K’ edition could go even further.

That said, we were feeding in ~1.4v, so be careful as temperatures stabilised around 87 degrees. High, but no cause for panic.

At this stage, we’re going to touch on price points. The whole IT industry has been hit by the ever-strengthening dollar and that’s pushed the price of the Core i7 875 much higher than Intel would have wanted. We’re still expecting a UK street price just over £275, but that could change.

You also need to bear in mind that this processor has been designed around a dual-channel memory system – so the price for mainboard and Ram will be lower than a comparable Core i7 930 system.

Preamble over. Let’s get down to the only thing that matters.

Enthusiasts feel the need. The need for speed. And the 875 delivers speed in BIG buckets.

Our bench test setup used the Austrian sandwich cooler from Noctua as well as some specially selected memory from Crucial’s Ballistics team (lovely Tracer modules). We began slowly and spent a lot of time feeling our way through the processor, its likes/dislikes as far as voltages go and we spent a lot of time making sure the cooling solution was optimised, in terms of clamping pressure, air flow and TIM.

At stock clocks, the 875 punches at exactly the level you would expect for a quad core processor at 2.93Ghz. Then the fun started. In the coming days, we will hand hold you through the detail of our work with the processor, but – for now – let’s cheat completely and skip ahead to the final ‘OC chapter' in the book.

On air, running solid benchmarks for hours, KitGuru had the Intel Core i5-875 Special ‘K’ Edition breezing along at 4.8Ghz.

We'll say that again. FOUR POINT EIGHT GIGAHURTZ.  H-U-R-T-Z.

We’ve spoken with some of the UK’s top system builders and cross-referenced our results. They are telling us that, in the right environment, they get comparable scores to us – but if they were shipping across the country and needed to guarantee the system for 12 months, then they would opt for a shade under 4.2Ghz.

Honestly, With the Intel Core i7 875 running solidly at 4.8Ghz, that is a monster overclock of around 64%.

On air!

Does that impact performance?  Oh yes. Yes indeed.

With applications like Cinebench 11.5, the scores were shown to be absolutely in line with the clock speed:-

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the decent, 6GB, Core i7 930 system against the kind of 4Gb Core i5 875 Special ‘K’ Edition you’d need to achieve up tp 4.8Ghz.

Core i7 930 Rig
Core i7 875 Rig
Core i7

Based on our preliminary performance figures and the street price shown, Intel has a beast and a half on its hands with the Core i7 875k ‘Special K' Edition.

KitGuru says: We love it. Every day of the week and three times on a Sunday. It's the best chip Intel has ever produced. To start with, the Intel BIOS felt weird and cramped. But, after days coaxing the settings, we got the reaction we were looking for. There’s every chance that we’ll be able to get it a smidgen higher than 4.8GHz with time – and certainly with liquid cooling.   But remember true believers: Salivating is NOT liquid cooling!

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  1. nasty overclock with an intel based board ! 4.8ghz? dammmmmmmmnnnnnnnnnn

  2. thats an impressive overclock for sure – just shy of 5ghz on air. loverly.

  3. Intel bioses confuse me sometimes as they seem to lay things out weirdly compared to other makers like asus.

  4. Very impressive processor – the price seems well thought out, im sure this will hurt AMD, big style.

  5. That noctua cooler seems to be insanely good. just read the review of it, need to get me one.

  6. OMG. That’s all I have. OMG.

  7. I feel sorry about AMD. 🙁
    Intel Core is way superior from the phenom architecture in almost every way !!
    Core i7 875 is really impressive !!