When Ed and Hugo reviewed Intel's Core i7 processor there was a huge amount of information to pass on but one piece of the puzzle still remained. There are three processors in the Core i7 range which consists of the Core i7 920 that runs at 2.66GHz, the Core i7 940 at 2.93 GHz and the Core i7 965 Extreme that has a clock speed of 3.2GHz and a terrifying price of £845. The dollar exchange rate hasn't done us any favours but no matter how you look at things there are very few people in the market for a desktop processor that sells for £845.
That puts the emphasis squarely on the Core i7 920 as the processor that you might consider as a candidate for your new PC. But what about the Core i7 940? Although the 940 is hardly cheap at £465 it falls closer to the 920 than the 965 Extreme and when you throw a £250-or-so X58 motherboard into the equation you may consider that it's not as expensive as it first seems.
To date, the 940 has slipped under the reviewing radar for the simple reason that the Intel press kit for Core I7 included a 920 and a 965 Extreme but 940 models were nowhere to be seen. Intel covered this gap by including a handy A4 guide to overclocking the Core i7 920 to mimic the 940 which consisted of the instruction to raise the clock multiplier from 20x to 22x. Thankfully we didn't have to do anything like that as we have got our hands on a genuine 940 and have put it through its paces.
The three models of Core i7 are fundamentally similar and share the same transistor count, die area, amounts of L1, L2 and L3 cache, support for triple channel DDR3-1066 system memory, 130W TDP and run a 1.2V core voltage.
The 965 Extreme earns its enormously high price and Extreme name thanks to its 6.4GT/second QPI bus speed and unlocked multiplier. Or as Intel puts it, the removal of Overspeed Protection.
By contrast the 920 and 940 have a locked multiplier and have a QPI bus speed of 4.8GT/second. The difference between the 920 and 940 comes down to clock speed with the 920 running at 20x133MHz=2.67GHz and the 940 at 22x133MHz=2.93GHz. The 965 Extreme has a clock speed of 26x133MHz=3.2GHz. This means that 940 has a clock speed that is ten percent higher than the 920 and those extra 266MHz come at a premium of more than £200 which is heading towards £1 per Megahertz. Hmm, let's hope they are very fast and effective Megahertz.
We plugged together a test system consisting of an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard with the latest 1102 BIOS, 3GB of triple channel Qimonda DDR3-1066 memory, a Radeon HD 4870X2 graphics card, a 1TB WD Caviar Black hard drive and Windows Vista Ultimate.