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Intel Core i7 940 - Intel Core i7 940

By Leo Waldock



Our Score:


As a comparison we tested an AMD Phenom X4 9850 that runs at 2.5Gz with a typical selling price of £155. This was run on an MSI DKA790GX Platinum motherboard with 2GB of DDR2-1066 memory. At stock speed the Phenom was overshadowed by all three Core i7 processors, which is exactly what you would expect, yet the power draw of the Phenom under load was disappointingly high. When we overclocked the Phenom from 2.5GHz to 2.8GHz the performance gap become reasonably close to the stock Core i7 920. Also, bare in mind that this is the old version of Phenom. The new version performs significantly better and consumes much less power but I didn't have one at the time of comparison.

Once we had run the Core i7 920 at stock speed we overclocked it, which involved a modicum of work. We raised the core speed from 1.2V to 1.35V, pushed the CPU PLL to 1.96V and increased the QPI/DRAM to 1.35V and then got busy raising the base clock speed, as the multiplier is locked.


The Core i7 920 was happy to run at 20x190MHz to give a clock speed of 3.8GHz which raised the idle power draw from 180W to 210W and the power draw under load increased from 235W to 310W. As you would expect the performance of the system leapt forward as it had an extra Gigahertz under the bonnet.

It was a similar story when we overclocked the Core i7 940 which has a higher locked multiplier of 22x. Using the same voltage settings as the Core i7 920 we raised the base clock speed from 133MHz to 170MHz which gave a clock speed of 3.74GHz. The result was performance that was slightly lower than the overclocked Core i7 920 but on the plus side the power draw figures were considerably better.

At idle the overclocked 920 demanded 210W while the overclocked 940 pulled 185W and under load the figures were 310W and 265W respectively.

We finished off with the 965 Extreme which is, of course, unlocked so we had the choice of increasing the multiplier or raising the base clock speed or using a combination of the two. The 965 Extreme required 1.4V core voltage instead of 1.35V and overclocked from its stock speed of 3.2GHz to 3.9GHz. We found that 29x133MHz=3.86GHz and 26x150MHz=3.9GHz worked equally well although sticking to the standard 133MHz base clock allowed us to stick to a memory speed of 1,066MHz. Using the 150MHz base clock setting forced us to drop the memory speed to 926MHz.

Core i7 965 Extreme is the fastest processor in the new family by a narrow margin and will overclock by a tiny 200MHz more than the 920 and 940 models, which is fairly disappointing when you consider its price.

The 920 and 940 are far more interesting as they overclock to give almost exactly the same results. In fact the 920 ends up delivering slightly more performance than the more expensive 940 although it demands an extra 45W in the process. The extra power causes us some concern but the way we see it you save more than £200 if you choose a 920 so there is plenty of scope for investing in exotic cooling or a beefier power supply - or you could just be a little more conservative with your overclocking.


We hoped that the Core i7 940 would put the 920 to shame and in some respects it delivered. However, the small advantages are nowhere near enough to justify the huge difference in price. 920 is still the Core i7 of choice.


January 15, 2009, 5:49 am

920 is still the Core i7 of choice, so ture.

940 = overpriced.


January 15, 2009, 6:11 am

I can't see why anyone getting an i7 rig would opt for anything other than the 920 (maybe if you refuse to overlock or have lots of cash). It hands down offers by far the best value for money, and is considerably cheaper than the extreme edition Core 2's (QX9xxx) while offering increased performance in most applications. With a fairly big overclock it will offer the same performance as a stock 965, which costs 𧼐 more; it's a no brainer!


January 15, 2009, 9:40 pm

Spot on with regards to the value of the 940, far to much, when you can get the 920 for half the price, which will overclock just as far as this chip will.

Paul Nicolson

January 16, 2009, 3:14 am

hmm may just wait a few months for the real credit crunch it you may got one for a ton !!

Doc. Caliban

January 16, 2009, 3:24 am

I bought the 920 simply because the benchmarks weren't showing any real performance boosts in games, which is the only thing I built the machine for. By not going with the more expensive CPUs I was able to get a third GTX280. I have the Asus Rampage II though so I can get more out of the chip when and if games will benefit from it, or even go to the 965 if it ever makes any sense to do so.

Mark E

November 10, 2009, 10:17 am

From what I read the 920 was overclocked at a higher base clock speed(190MHz) than the 940 (170)MHz), is it any wonder that the 920 overclocked at a higher speed. To be fair the 940 and the 920 should have been run at the same base clock speed otherwise you will get perhaps the results that you want rather than competitive results. This would have shown what the locked multiplier actually does when the base clock has been raised equaly to each CPU. In my opinion the results in this article are tainted.

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