Price / Performance, Conclusions and Final Thoughts
Performance per Dollar Measurements

To gauge performance per dollar, I decided I would use the same benchmarks in our “performance per watt” comparison and see how things looked with prices placed into the game.  Keep in mind that these are also invented metrics, so while the numbers don’t mean anything directly (1.71 Hz/$ or 0.22 FPS/$) it is their relative value to other scores that is important.  I have marked the best scores for each benchmark in red:

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield Processor Review - Best value in processors? - Processors 81
(Based on prices of $555, $285, $199, $999, $279, $319, $189, $239)

When I made this table for the original review, I was looking at it, and was nearly 100% sure that the Core i7-860 (which I hadn’t been able to test at all at that time) would take the majority of these performance/dollar wins from the Core i5-750.  I was wrong – that’s why you do the testing! 

While the Core i7-860 is still a strong performer in this area, it is beat out by the Core i5-750 in all of our computing tests and then still is bested by the Core 2 series in the two gaming tests shown here.  But take a look at how close the Core i5-750 and Core i7-860 performance/dollar ratings really are: in most cases the i7-860 is the 2nd place contender without much difference between the top two spots.

Where the Core i7-860 really looks great though is compared to the much more expensive Core i7-870.  The lower priced HyperThreaded Lynnfield has just about twice the performance per dollar of the i7-870. 

Overall Performance

While the above table does a very good job of making our arguments for us, that the Core i5-750 is the best deal for a Lynnfield processor, there are still some cases where the performance provided by HyperThreading and the slight boost in clock speed might make the jump to the Core i7-860 a worthwhile decision.  Without a doubt moderate-to-heavy transcoding applications SHOULD be using as much processing power as you can throw at them, and Handbrake is by far the most popular for that. 

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield Processor Review - Best value in processors? - Processors 82

Gaming continues to be the one area that Lynnfield and Nehalem are just not showing improvements in.  If you are dedicated gamer, meaning that is ALL you are going to do with your PC, then any processor platform that is able to meet your GPU requirements should be good enough.  If you are going to be considering multi-GPU configurations like 3-Way SLI or CrossFire X then you might be better off with the Core i7-920 and the X58 chipset; most of our readers will be happy with one GPU for now and the option to add another down the line, which the P55 platform does very well. 

The other question from readers was about the Core i7-920 and if it would be a better option than the Lynnfield platforms released this month.  In our testing, as you saw on previous pages, the Core i7-860 did beat out the i7-920 in many cases thanks to the speed increases provided by a highly tuned Turbo Mode on the Lynnfield core reaching as high as 3.47 GHz.  If you are starting from scratch, Lynnfield just makes more sense to me for the normal user.  If you already have an LGA1366 system then there is absolutely NO reason to build a Lynnfield system – you won’t be gaining anything really and you could probably overclock your CPU to make up for any performance advantages Turbo Mode gives the newer processors. 

If you are interested in seeing how these Lynnfield processors overclock, check out my results from the first Lynnfield review!

Pricing and Availability

MSRPs for the new Lynnfield processors are as follows:

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield Processor Review - Best value in processors? - Processors 83

Even just looking at this table, the Core i7-860 jumps out as being the “better deal” even if the numbers don’t completely justify it to me.  The added benefits of being able to run 8 threads rather than 4 might seem like overkill to many, but I feel like the extra cost is more than justified by the headroom it provides.  You might feel different for your own computing workload – can’t argue with that.

And the best part – these CPUs are available NOW from various online retailers. 

It’s great to see a hard CPU launch come through!

These CPUs can be found just about everywhere!
You can also get a TON of different motherboards:
Final Thoughts

Last week I gave the Core i7/i5 line of Lynnfield processors our Editor’s Choice award and I still feel that these CPUs, with their improved power efficiency, overclocking headroom and lower price, deserve the recognition.  I set out in this article to see how the Core i7-860 fit into the lineup and I must say, that even after reading my own results and finding that the Core i5-750 was the better value in terms of performance-per-dollar, I would personally still lean to the i7-860 as my purchase option for a new PC.  Why?  As I mentioned, in those cases (although they might be rare) that your software can utilize 8 threads rather than just 4, the performance differences are noticeable enough to warrant the $85 or so up charge for the i7-860 CPU.  Either option is going to be a great deal and a great start to a new gaming/enthusiast rig and with the lower costs of motherboards, the Lynnfield processors remain the best value in performance computing anywhere!

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield Processor Review - Best value in processors? - Processors 84
Intel Core i7-860

If you have questions or comments about this article, please head into this thread of the PC Perspective Forums to discuss!!!

« PreviousNext »