Intel Core i7 860 LGA 1156 Processor Review

I can clearly say that the test results were not what I had expected.  I had assumed that the i7 920 would beat the i7 860 in most if not all tests, partially due to the triple channel memory, but mostly due to the fact that the i7 860 is intended to be more economical than its LGA 1366 counterpart.  The older processor did beat the newer one in the majority of tests that were not VGA intensive, but it just wasn’t the sound stomping I thought I would see.  In some of the tests very much affected by the video cards, the i7 860 was so far ahead that I suspect it would still have been the winner had both rigs been tested with the same video card.

The i7 860, like its older brother, turned out to be an overclocking monster.  The processor overclocked from 2.98gHz to 4.198 very easily, a 40% overclock, and I expect to take it far beyond that in the future.  The performance gain from the overclock was awesome.

I must admit that I didn’t expect that much from the newer i7, maybe a little more than the later versions of the Core 2 Quad.  I don’t know why, I suppose mostly because I have experienced triple channel and I felt that going back to dual channel was kind of a retrograde move. Or maybe that the LGA 1156 was just a Celeron-styled version of LGA 1366.  I now feel that the advances the i7 860 has over the earlier i7 are very significant and put it in a class of its own.  I await those advances making their way to the LGA 1366 line, this technology combined with triple channel bandwidth will make a formidable system indeed.

Intel definitely has a winner with the i7 860.  This is not an economy processor, just more economical than the LGA 1366 i7.  Actually, it’s release price of under $300 makes it among the least expensive enthusiast Intel processors I’ve seen.

The i7 860’s power is very impressive.  Its simplicity in the BIOS is very nice, it makes overclocking much more enjoyable for those of us that are “lazy overclockers”.  The total elimination of the Northbridge not only makes the CPU more efficient, but lowers the cost of motherboards, which have gotten pretty expensive.  The elimination of the NB also makes me suspect that the LGA 1366, at least in its present configuration, will not last very much longer.

The only issue I had was with some of the testing that used only one or two cores, it seemed that something was holding the CPU back.  I really think that it was driver or Vista related, and not the fault of the processor, especially since the problem was eliminated by going to Safe Mode.  But I never found the problem.

At $284, the i7 860 is a lot of processor for the money.  The hard decision will be whether to go with it or the i7 920, whose price has dropped to about the same.  You’re still going to pay well over $250 for a nice X58 motherboard, but P55 motherboards can be had for under $150.  As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with this processor. gives the Intel i7 860 a 10 out of 10 score.

rating10 10 small

– LGA 1156 technology has completely eliminated the NB, making motherboards cooler and cheaper
– Sub-$300 release price
– Easily attained a 40% overclock and showed significant performance gains
– Performance not that far behind the LGA 1366 i7 920

– None that I found