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Intel Core i7 970 CPU Review

Rating: 8.5.

The Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is the most powerful CPU we have tested at KitGuru and while it still holds the enthusiast market performance crown, not many can afford the £850+ asking price. I have received quite a few emails recently asking if we were going to review the Core i7 970 processor and this week we have made time to fit it into our busy schedule.

The Intel Core i7 970 is based on the same 6 core architecture as the 980x Extreme Edition and for most people the differences won't mean a great deal. Extreme Edition processors have unlocked multipliers which means they are much sought after via the hardcore overclocking audience. Extreme Editions are also said to be hand picked from the production line so they can tend to overclock better – this isn't guaranteed mind you, just an observation we have made over the years.

While it shares the same 6 core architecture as the more expensive 980X, the i7 970 runs at 3.2ghz which is 133mhz slower. It is built around the same whopping 12MB of shared Level 3 cache on a 32nm manufacturing process with a 240mm2 die and a 1.17 billion transistor chip count.

Processor Codename Manufacturing Process Transistor Count Cores Die Size
Westmere 6C Gulftown 32nm 1.17B 6 240mm2
Nehalem 4C BloomField 45nm 731M 4 263mm2
Nehalem 4C LynnField 45nm 774M 4 295mm2
Westmere 2C Clarkdale 45nm 384M 6 346mm2
AMD Phenom II X6 Thuban 45nm 904M 6 346mm2
AMD Phenom II X4 Deneb 45nm 758M 4 258mm2

The Core i7 970 can turbo up to 3.46ghz if two or fewer cores are active – with more than two active if the thermal limits are within guidelines then the chip will run at 3.33ghz.

With a £90 saving (i7 970 is £680 inc vat, i7 980x is £770 inc vat), you aren't really losing much in the way of ‘out of the box' performance.

Intel Core i7 970
Core Gulftown
Clock Speed 3.2ghz
Cores 6 physical, 6x logical (12)
Cache 1x32kb + 1x32kb (each core), L2: 256kb (each core), L3: 12MB (shared)
Thermal Power 130W
Features SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSSE4, EM64T, EIST, Execute Disable Bit, VT, Hyper-Threading

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