The Bloomfield core that forms the basis of the Core i7 930 is nearly two years old. Odds are it won't survive the introduction of Intel's new Sandy Bridge class processors at the beginning of 2011. Despite all that, it still produces the goods.
The silly-money, six-core Core i7 970 and Core i7 980X chips aside, the 930 is still extremely competitive. In multi-threaded software such as video encoding and professional 3D rendering, it's admittedly a little slower than the likes of Intel's own Core i7 870 and the six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black edition. But it's close enough that the subjective end-user experience is more or less indistinguishable.
What's more, for gaming the 930 is absolutely killer. In our World of Conflict benchmark, it takes down the Core i7 870 handily and absolutely annihilates the six-core AMD chip. The LGA1,366 socket with its massive bandwidth really does make for an awesome gaming platform.
If there is a disappointment, it's the 930's overclocking headroom. In isolation, 4GHz is fighting fit for a 2.8GHz processor. However, the fact that our older and theoretically slower Core i7 920 sample hits 4.2GHz just goes to show that Intel has pretty much hit the end of the road with the Bloomfield core. Whatever version you buy, you can expect around 4GHz.
In that context, the £40 or so required for Core i7 930 over the 920 probably isn't worth it for overclocking enthusiasts. That said, the toughest challenge comes from the aforementioned Core i7 870. Yes, the 870 is a little more expensive. But it's an LGA1,156 chip and that means cheaper motherboards and memory, and in turn a lower overall platform cost.
Like a Leica camera or a Rolex watch, the Core i7 930 oozes engineering integrity from every pore. It's an incredibly well specified CPU. Despite its age, therefore, it remains competitive in all kinds of software and packs a particularly hefty gaming punch.
While the Core i7 930 itself is reasonably priced, the cost of supporting motherboards and triple-channel memory kits spoil the overall value proposition. It's also worth noting that the Bloomfield core has matured to the point that this model appears to offer no additional overclocking headroom over the cheaper Core i7 920.
A superbly engineered CPU. But Intel's LGA1,156 CPUs make more sense for most.