Intel's Pentium Extreme Edition 965 processor

65 nanometers ramps up

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you pack a quad-SLI graphics subsystem, a Sound Blaster X-Fi audio processor, a physics acceleration chip, a RAID 10 disk array, four gigs of DDR2-1200 memory, and Intel's next-generation dual-core processor into a single box with a 64-bit OS and fire up Unreal Engine 3? I have no idea, but to tide us over until that's possible, today Intel is introducing a new speed grade of its top-end desktop CPU, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965.

Before you nod off to sleep and plant your face in the keyboard, realize that this CPU is actually a pair of chips wound up to 3.73GHz and, well, that's a lot and stuff. Perhaps more importantly, thanks to refinements to its 65-nanometer manufacturing process, Intel has found a way to crank up the clock frequency while dialing back the heat on this double-barreled blowtorch of death. In fact, it's more like a blowtorch of pain now, with power consumption actually reduced from the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 we reviewed a few months back, despite the 965's increased clock speed.

The result could be that this CPU based on a lame-duck microarchitecture manages to do something few Pentiums have done in recent times: catch up with the competition from AMD in terms of performance and power use. And if that doesn't work, we can always try turning up the clock speed to 4.53GHz, right? Let's have a look at what Intel's new fastest processor has to offer.

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