|Product Collection||12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processors|
|Code Name||Products formerly Alder Lake|
|# of Performance-cores||8|
|# of Efficient-cores||4|
|Max Turbo Frequency||4.90 GHz|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3. 0 Frequency||4.90 GHz|
|Performance-core Max Turbo Frequency||4.80 GHz|
|Efficient-core Max Turbo Frequency||3.60 GHz|
|Performance-core Base Frequency||2.10 GHz|
|Efficient-core Base Frequency||1.60 GHz|
|Cache||25 MB Intel® Smart Cache|
|Total L2 Cache||12 MB|
|Processor Base Power||65 W|
|Maximum Turbo Power||180 W|
|Embedded Options Available||Yes|
|Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type)||128 GB|
|Memory Types||Up to DDR5 4800 MT/s
Up to DDR4 3200 MT/s
|Max # of Memory Channels||2|
|Max Memory Bandwidth||76. 8 GB/s|
|Processor Graphics||Intel® UHD Graphics 770|
|Graphics Base Frequency||300 MHz|
|Graphics Max Dynamic Frequency||1.50 GHz|
|Graphics Output||eDP 1.4b, DP 1.4a, HDMI 2.1|
|Max Resolution (HDMI)||4096 x 2160 @ 60Hz|
|Max Resolution (DP)||7680 x 4320 @ 60Hz|
|Max Resolution (eDP – Integrated Flat Panel)||5120 x 3200 @ 120Hz|
|Multi-Format Codec Engines||2|
|Intel® Quick Sync Video||Yes|
|Intel® Clear Video HD Technology||Yes|
|# of Displays Supported||4|
|OpenCL* Support||2. 1|
|Direct Media Interface (DMI) Revision||4.0|
|Max # of DMI Lanes||8|
|PCI Express Revision||5.0 and 4.0|
|PCI Express Configurations||Up to 1×16+4, 2×8+4|
|Max # of PCI Express Lanes||20|
|Max CPU Configuration||1|
|Thermal Solution Specification||PCG 2020C|
|Package Size||45.0 mm x 37.5 mm|
|Intel® Gaussian & Neural Accelerator||3. 0|
|Intel® Thread Director||Yes|
|Intel® Deep Learning Boost (Intel® DL Boost)||Yes|
|Intel® Optane™ Memory Supported||Yes|
|Intel® Speed Shift Technology||Yes|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0||Yes|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Technology||2.0|
|Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology||Yes|
|Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x)||Yes|
|Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d)||Yes|
|Intel® VT-x with Extended Page Tables (EPT)||Yes|
|Instruction Set Extensions||Intel® SSE4. 1, Intel® SSE4.2, Intel® AVX2|
|Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology||Yes|
|Thermal Monitoring Technologies||Yes|
|Intel® Volume Management Device (VMD)||Yes|
|Security & Reliability|
|Intel® AES New Instructions||Yes|
|Intel® OS Guard||Yes|
|Execute Disable Bit||Yes|
|Intel® Boot Guard||Yes|
|Mode-based Execute Control (MBEC)||Yes|
|Intel® Control-Flow Enforcement Technology||Yes|
|Note||*** Features, Price, Specifications are subject to change without notice.|
What’s the difference between Core i3, i5 and i7 processors?
Although Intel’s naming convention is generally a lot better and less confusing than it used to be, it can be difficult to work out exactly which processor suits your needs. If you’re struggling to work out the differences between the Core i3, i5 and i7, don’t worry, as we’ll explain everything for you.
First, it’s important to explain about architecture and codenames. Every year, Intel releases a newer, faster range of processors. We’re currently starting to see Devil’s Canyon chips, a refresh of last year’s Haswell. Before that we had Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Generally speaking a Core i3, i5 or i7 that has a newer architecture is faster than the older-architecture processor that it replaces. You can tell the architecture by the model number, Devil’s Canyon and Haswell start with 4; Ivy Bridge with a 3; and Sandy Bridge with a 2.
The most important thing about different architectures is making sure that you have a motherboard that supports the type of processor you’re interested in. Processors, regardless of whether they’re a Core i3, i5 and i7, based on the same architecture are fundamentally the same inside. The differences in performance come from which features are enabled or disabled, the clock speed and how many cores each one has.
|Model||Core i3||Core i5||Core i7|
|Number of cores||2||4||4|
The feature table above shows you how the most popular processors line-up in terms of features. The differences in Core i3, i5 and i7 are the same for Sandy Bridge Ivy Bridge, Haswell and Devil’s Canyon (a Haswell refresh). Note that there are exceptions (see below), but you’re mostly unlikely to encounter these odd models when buying a new CPU. Also, mobile processors are completely different again, so we’re focussing on desktop models here only. What’s important is what these different features mean, which we’ll explain.
A core can be thought of as in individual processor. A dual-core processor, therefore has two internal processors, a quad-core model has four. More cores are useful for multi-tasking; for example, you can run two applications at the same time, each one having access to its own dedicated processor.
More cores are also useful for multi-threaded applications, such as video editing. With these types of applications they can use multiple cores to improve performance. Single-threaded applications can only use a single core leaving any others idle. Core i3 processors have two cores, Core i5 CPUs have four and Core i7 models also have four. Some Core i7 Extreme processors have six or eight cores. Generally speaking, we find that most applications can’t take full advantage of six or eight cores, so the performance boost from extra cores isn’t as great.
Hyper-Threading is Intel’s technology for creating two logical cores in each physical core. In other words, to your operating system it appears as though your CPU has double the number of cores than it really does.
In terms of performance, Hyper-Threading speeds up multi-tasking and multi-threaded applications. It’s not as fast or as efficient as extra ‘real’ cores, but it’s an improvement over a single Core. Core i3 and i7 processors have this technology, Core i5 processors do not.
The faster the clock speed in MHz, the faster each core can run. This can create some variances in performance. For example, a Core i3-4370 Haswell processor runs at 3.8GHz. It would be faster running a single-threaded application, which can only use one core, than a Core i5-4590, which only has a clock speed of 3.2GHz. However, running a multi-threaded application, the Core i5 would most likely be quicker, as its four real cores are better than the Core i3’s two cores and Hyper-Threading.
Turbo Boost is Intel’s technology for automatically overclocking a processor, boosting its clock speed higher than the default setting. The CPU monitors its temperature and, when it’s running cool enough, will apply the overclock. Core i5 and i7 CPUs have this technology, Core i3 models do not.
Any CPU that has a model ending with a K means that it the CPU is unlocked. This means that you can use BIOS settings to up the clock speed of the chip, overclocking it yourself. We’ve seen big improvements in performance this way — we pushed the Intel Core i7-4790K chip to 4.7GHz!
All Intel processors have graphics chips in them. Pre-Haswell, the GPUs weren’t particularly good for games, although they were fine for watching video. With Haswell, came the Intel HD Graphics 4600 line, which is fine for a bit of light gaming; some cheaper models (we’ll show you how to check later) have HD Graphics 4400 chips, which are fine for some older less-demanding games. Some of the more expensive chips have Intel Iris Pro chips in them. They’re slightly faster in games, but can cope with 4K video, making them suitable for high-end video editing
In all cases, if you’re serious about playing games, Intel chips don’t cut it and won’t give you high-resolution, high-detail gaming. We recommend buying a dedicated graphics card instead.
As always, there are some exceptions to the rules. In particular, Intel sells some low-power processors, where the model name ends in a T, TE or S. For example, the Core i5-4570T has two cores and Hyper-Threading. Fortunately, these models aren’t generally available and we recommend avoiding any of these strange models unless you have a specific reason for wanting one.
How to check features
If you’re not sure which features that processor you’re interested in has, you can use the ark.intel.com website. Just use the search box to search for a model number and you’ll find all of the features your processor has.
Which one should I buy?
As a rough guide, a Core i3 chip is fine for day-to-day use. Go for a Core i5 if you do a lot of video or photo editing. A Core i7 chip is generally more expensive than it’s worth, in our experience, but buy one if you do a lot of video editing, particularly 4K, or other processor-intensive tasks. Our current best buys are the Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K and the Haswell Core i5-4670K.
Testing the Intel Core i7
Announced in 2006, the Core architecture ushered in a new era in desktop and mobile computing. Core-based processors combined superior performance over processors based on the NetBurst architecture, low power consumption and heat dissipation, and overclocking potential. The Core architecture helped Intel avoid the economic problems associated with the relative unpopularity of NetBurst-based processors. Over the past two years, Intel has consistently expanded the capabilities of the Core architecture, releasing new revisions, and recently transferred the release of processors to the 45nm process technology. It seemed that this development of events would never end until in 2007 Intel announced the announcement of the Nehalem architecture (the name of the processors is Core i7), built on the Core with a number of cardinal innovations, including:
- the memory controller was moved from the northbridge of the motherboard directly to the processor itself
- support for 3-channel memory mode was added
- unlike Kentsfield/Yorkfield, which consist of two dies with 2 cores each, all 4 Bloomfield cores are on the same die
At the moment, the presented line of Core i7 consists of three 4-core processors: 920, 940 and 965 Extreme Edition.
| Core i7 965
|Core i7 940||Core i7 920|
|Number of cores / threads||4 / 8|
|Frequency||3.20 GHz||2.93 GHz||2.66 GHz|
|Multiplier||x 24.0||x 22.0||x 20.0|
|QPI||1 x 6.4 GT/s||1 x 4.8 GT/s||1 x 4.8 GT/s|
|Cash||4 x 256 KB L2 / 8 MB L3|
|Supported memory type|| DDR3-800/1066/
|Price in quantities from 1000 pieces||$999||$562||$284|
And now, finally, pre-series samples of Core i7 processors have arrived in our laboratory.
So, we have the oldest and youngest representatives of Core i7, namely Core i7 965 Extreme and Core i7 920. The Core i7 is noticeably larger than its predecessor.
Due to the integration of the memory controller into the core, the size of the die itself has increased, the number of pins (socket legs) has increased, as a result of which the size of the CPU board itself has increased from 38×38 to 42×45 mm.
Since the Core i7 920 claims more to be the «people’s» Core i7, for now we will focus on it.
The representative office of Intel, together with the processor itself, sent a prototype of the regular cooler of this model.
At first glance, it may seem that it is no different from its predecessor for socket 775. As soon as you put both standard coolers side by side, you realize that not only the size of the processor has increased. The connector on the motherboard has also grown, and with it the distance between the mounting holes on the motherboard has increased (from 72x72mm to 80x80mm).
This has created a new problem, which is that existing cooling systems for socket 775 will not be compatible with socket 1366 unless the manufacturer rushes and releases a new mount / new cooler revision.
Thermalright, in particular, has already taken care of this by releasing separate mounting kits for its most popular models. A Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme sample with Socket 1366 support also ended up in the lab:
This cooler will come in handy. Let’s start testing.
Running the processor on the provided Intel DX58SO board based on the X58 chipset, CPUz was able to display the following information about the processor:
All within Intel specification. The frequency is set, the entire cache and instruction sets are in place.
The only thing that needs to be mentioned again is that «our» processor is based on the early C0 stepping. Serial samples will have a later stepping, respectively, will have a lower VID (standard voltage), and also may differ in overclocking potential . .. well, you have to work with what you have.
We’ll talk about the performance of this processor a little later, so far I can only say about the temperature regime of this instance during normal operation. According to the CoreTemp utility version 0.99, CPU idle temperature when using stock cooler fluctuates around
* depending on the kernel. Under load with the OCCT utility version 2.0.0, the temperature rose to the mark in
*, above which it did not rise even after a two-hour test run.
*as it turned out later, the CoreTemp readings are overestimated by exactly 5 degrees Celsius due to the uncalibration of this utility for Core i7 processors.
This was followed by an overclocking test. And then the first disappointment awaited us … But first things first. So, at a nominal voltage of 1.2V (1.16 under full load), the processor was stable at a frequency of 3000MHz, but at 3100 it immediately crashed out of the hourly OCCT test. Raising the core voltage to 1.3V, we managed to pass the OCCT test at a frequency of 3200 MHz. 1.4V gave stable 3400MHz. Well, the trend is clear. It was customary to apply 1.5V to the processor, but at 3600 MHz the system did not even pass POST. As it turned out later, the reason for this was the limitation on QPI, in other words, our test board could not work at QPI above 175 MHz, so overclocking was limited to 3500 MHz.
Agree, after 4 GHz, which have already become customary for 45nm products, the result of 3.5, given the relatively high Vcore voltage, is simply not impressive. But we have to work with what we have, hoping that Intel will have time to improve the overclocking potential in serial processors.
Now a few words about the peculiarities of memory operation on these processors. The memory frequency is still set by the ratio (multiplier) to the QPI frequency, however, there are only two multipliers available on the non-extreme Core i7 line: x3 and x4, respectively, the maximum memory frequency that we could set was only 700 MHz, which for DDR3 is very scarce. Therefore, the memory timings were lowered to the minimum possible, namely 6-5-5-15. The memory voltage was raised to 1.74V.
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