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The New Mainstream Performance King
When we first looked at the Core i7 almost a year ago there appeared to be little hope for AMD. However, the Core i7 never quite reached the mainstream due to its expensive platform. This is likely how Intel wanted things to be, keeping their powerhouse processors as a luxury series for those willing to dish out top dollar.
This left AMD to battle the existing Core 2 series and to their credit they soldiered on with the Phenom II. But trouble is ahead for AMD with the release of the Core i5 750. As things stand today, the Phenom II X4 945 costs around $170, the 955 sells for $199, and the 965 $245.
The Core i5 750 is set to launch at $199 and as we anticipated in our review of the Phenom II X4 965, a price cut is in order for AMD to remain competitive. Our benchmarks showed that the Core i5 750 is usually faster than AMD's flagship counterpart.
Even when adding the overclocking factor into the equation, the Black Edition moniker won't suffice for the Phenom II X4 965 to beat the new Core i5, as it doesn't hit 4GHz nearly as easily, and at that frequency the Core i5 750 is incredibly fast.
Although we had limited time to play around with the new chip, we were instantly able to crack the 4GHz barrier using the Prolimatech Megahalems air-cooler as we reached an impressive 4.13GHz stable overclock, a 36% increase in clock frequency.
This has to be one of the most successful overclocks we have ever had using air cooling. It was also made easy by the Asus P7P55D Deluxe motherboard we used for testing, which only required us to change the base clock to 206MHz. The voltage was raised but the P7P55D Deluxe did this automatically without our influence. At its default operating frequency of 2.66GHz, the Core i5 750 sucked down around 1.250v while at 4.13GHz it required 1.550v.
Outstanding product: Intel Core i5 750 Processor
As much as we hate this dual platform business, the LGA1156 platform appears to make a bit of sense. Already Intel has a long list of new LGA1156 processors scheduled for release early next year. This list includes the 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 processors that will have a thermal design power of just 73 watts, which is 23% less than that of the 45nm Lynnfield architecture (the most efficient in this review). Also meant to use the same platform are the Core i3 series and let's not forget the Core i7 800 series. In other words, options will be aplenty in the LGA1156 space.
That leaves us with the step-up scenario in the case that you still prefer to buy a Core i7 900 series processor (LGA1366) which remains the faster part. The value proposition will heavily depend on how P55 motherboard pricing shapes up during the next few months as you can already buy X58 boards that go as low as $170. We expect a Core i5 750/P55 combo to save you roughly $200, including memory (4GB vs. 6GB), which depending on your requirements could make LGA1156 the smarter choice.
No matter which the case, the new Core i5 750 processor along with the P55 chipset is the perfect replacement for the existing Core 2 Quad range, offering enhanced performance at a more affordable price tag.