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Intel Core i7 970 CPU Review

The Intel Core i7 970 arrives in a huge traditionally designed box with Intel heatsink. Intel heatsinks are fine but we won’t be using it today. We will be testing the Intel processors with the ThermalTake Frio which we use on a regular basis. I use this cooler on my own i7 980x – a machine I design with on a daily basis.

The Thermaltake Frio is capable of handling the 980x in our testing at up to 4.48ghz without going crazy in regards to fan speeds. We would hope to hit around 4 ghz today with the 970 at the same settings on the Frio.

A close up of the i7 970 heatspreader.

Windows Task Manager showing 12 threads – a heavy multi taskers delight, yes we love it.

We have used many 1366 slot motherboards in the last year and we always come back to our Intel DX58SO when we want to achieve stable, moderate overclocks. I say ‘moderate’ because I know friends on Xtremesystems will say the 980X can hit 4.9ghz on specific motherboards with much more extreme methods of cooling than we are using today.

At KitGuru we try to keep testing simple and achieveable for anyone buying one of these CPU’s. Our Intel DX58SO board has been rock solid and with the latest bios we managed to get our 980X to just under 4.5ghz on standard air cooling with only minor voltage increases. The Frio is still our first choice for affordable air cooling – at under £40 it is unbeaten. If we use this foundation for 970 overclocking today it should give us good ballpark figures for what is possible. You may get slightly more and you may get slightly less, every chip is going to be different.

We already know that with the DX58SO our 980x hits 4.48ghz with a voltage of 1.375. It runs 24/7 at 4.2ghz at reference voltage for us – we were sent a very good engineering sample from Intel. The Frio in dual fan mode maintains our 980x at 28c idle in a 25c environment and it hits around 68c under load. It is an impressive cooler, no doubt about it.

Our 970 was cranked to 4.3ghz but this proved unstable, regardless of the voltage we pushed through it but after settling on the same 980x voltage of 1.375 we managed to get it 100% stable at 4.18ghz.

If we used the reference Intel cooler, the same results were possible, but the 970 would throttle to 3.8ghz under extended load so you can already see the differences a high quality cooler such as the Thermaltake Frio makes when overclocking on air. At reference voltage the 970 made it to 3.9ghz, so a slight bump in voltage reaps rewards with this particular 970.

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