To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
Processor: Intel Core i7-870 (2.93GHz)
Motherboard: MSI P55-GD80
Memory: G-Skill Trident F3 DDR3-2000 CL9 4GB
Graphics Card: Asus GTX275
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 160GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 180.60 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
Thanks to the new Skt1156 design with the whole metal frame lifting away with the latch bar, installation of the CPU was even easier than before. The two notches are still there making fitment of the CPU a non-brainer however, care should still be taken not to bend those ever so fragile pins in the socket itself.
From the CPU-Z shot above you can see that the stock speed of the Core i7-870 is 2.93GHz when the bus speed is running at 133Mhz. As with most motherboards though, there are slight variations on this and the MSI board we are using for testing placed the bus speed slightly above spec at 133.7MHz resulting in a clockspeed of 2.94 but for intents and purposes this should be 2.93. As with the Core i7-920, the i7-870 has the Intel Turbo feature allowing an instant overclock by increasing the multiplier by two on the primary core and 1x on the remaining three so the cores are clocked to 24, 23, 23, 23 when you need the extra power most giving an overclock of 3.6GHz. This is in stark contrast to the stock clockspeed of the i7-920 being 2.66GHz with a Turbo boost of 3.2GHz - nice!
Anyone who is familiar with overclocking the older Skt1366 i7 will feel pretty much at home with the new revision i7 in that the base clock is still there acting for all intents and purposes like the FSB of old.
I initially tried overclocking the Core i7-870 with the Turbo technology enabled which resulted in a maximum clock of 4429MHz. However, I was not satisfied that 185 on the base clock was the maximum available and so did a little manual tweaking and managed to hit 205.5 Bclk resulting in a whopping 4521MHz! This was far from stable though but I do feel were I to be a little braver with the voltages then this could indeed be stablised. 1.4v was the maximum Vcore I used on the chip, as with the older Core i7-920 but the newer i7 surpassed the older chip by a fair margin.
Lowering the overclock I attempted to gain some stability I run a few runs of 3D06 and SuperPI 1M. While SuperPI is by no means the definitive test of stability, it does give an indication of what the CPU is capable of, much more so than a CPU-Z suicide screenshot. 4.45GHz was the maximum I could achieve with this setup on air cooling with a Vcore limitation of 1.4v. An amazing result, especially when you consider that the temperatures were also lower than that of the Core-i7 920 being around 35c idle and 68c load compare to 47c idle and over 85c for the 920. Obviously a pinch of salt has to be added to these temps as totally different setups were used but I would be happy to stake my reputation on the fact that the Core i7 8xx series run cooler than the 9xxx series counterparts.
Returning the CPU to it's stock settings (Turbo, EIST and C1E disabled) I ran a few benchmarks to see how the CPUs performance compares to other popular systems on the market at present...