Six cores, 12 threads, one billion transistors and a whole lotta processing power. That's the Intel Core i7 970. It's a fabulous technological achievement. But can it really be worth nearly £700?

Admittedly, the Core i7 970 is a bit cheaper than Intel's top six-core chip, the Core i7 980X. But it's still a tough ask given that AMD will sell you its own six-core Phenom II X6 1055T CPU for around one third the price. What the AMD chip doesn't give you, however, is the very latest technology. The Core i7 970 sports literally the most advanced PC processor die on the planet.

Part of the 970's advantage comes down to microprocessor architecture. Known as Nehalem, it's as good as it currently gets thanks to features such as HyperThreading, a triple-channel memory controller and the super-fast QPI interconnect.

The Core i7 970 is also hewn from Intel's latest 32nm silicon. That means the chip itself is physically smaller than most current quad-core processors including Intel's own Core i7 870 and AMD's Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. In theory that means it should be cheaper to manufacture. For now, Intel isn't passing on those cost savings to customers.