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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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  • Tech head

    superb review Zardon, I think while the 970 is a stunning product that the 980x at £90 more makes a valid competition product. I think a drop to around 600 in price also is a wise move, but I cant see it happening.

  • Harry

    Intels high end solutions are so powerful its not even funny. the 1055T did well i think, considering its 160 quid, not 680 🙂

  • Stefan

    Surprised how low profile this launch was a few weeks ago, its a great product, but we would expect no less from Intel, especially in the high end sector.

  • Francois LeBon

    Well let us hope that AMD can challenge these cpus at some stage down the line. its a tall order I know.

  • Tri Color

    The Core i7 range is extremely powerful, no doubt about it. This just proves how far ahead Intel still are. 1055T to be fair mind you, did better than I thought,. at 4.4ghz its rather powerful indeed.

  • Terry

    A lot of money for a processor, but in the right hands, a formidable weapon. Wouldnt buy one of these for gaming however. seems overkill 🙂

  • Ben

    The cache really helps with these processors especially rendering.

  • Eric K

    I was contemplating one of these a while ago, but they really do need to drop the price on the 970 a little, its too close to the 980x imo.

  • Toby

    Very good review Zardon – its a little out of my price point to say the least, but always good to see how powerful the ultra high end solutions are.

  • Robert McMahon

    Well its hard not to be impressed, but at £680 it seems to be too closely priced against the 980x to be a solid purchase. I would assume a high percentage of the enthusiast audience who purchase these will be overclocking so the 980x makes more sense.

    970 dropped by £50 it might be better for everyone, even might get intel more sales.

  • Forest

    Nice review – bit over my head in parts, but it seems a fast CPu.

  • Ronin McDougle

    Wow, that is smoe serious power, never read any reviews on the 980x so this is all new to me. my CPU is looking more ancient by the minute

  • Frank

    These chips are so powerful and apple charge a MASSIVE premium for them. they are dominating the market so much lately its hard to see them dropping prices right now.

  • HighFlyer {GB}

    I bought one of these, and upped the fsb a little and its running at 3.7ghz for me. its more than enough. great processors, they make our clan video editing so much easier.

  • Trevor

    Intel rock my world !

  • Garry

    The performance is insane, I do video editing myself on a little AMD chip which cost me 150 last year, it can be painful. I need to start saving.

  • Jim

    a lot of readies, but you get a lot of performance. I still think the lower end chips overclocked make so much more sense for 99% of people. even those tempted to buy one of these. the 980x seems a better deal overall considering its unlocked. either that or they need to drop the price of the 970

  • Ernie

    That was a great all round review, love the fact you dont test with purely sythetic apps and have made several of your own benchmarks, such as photoshop and studio max, thats brilliant work Zardon.

  • Sam

    only in my dreams, only in my dreams. but maybe someday 🙂

  • Jared Dutch

    They cost even more where I live, but they are ideal for professional industries and for an audience who render or video edit on a regular basis. this is when they truly shine. Good review.

  • Fraline

    Best 970 review online by a long shot. Seems like a very good purchase, you just need deep pockets.

  • Fluffychicken

    I like this product, it makes sense for professional users who wont overclock and the turbo boost will mean its comparible to 980x anyway.