Fire up any of Intel's Core i5 processors and you'll be greeted by four little green graphs in Windows Task Manager. That indicates the presence of four logical processors and therefore support for crunching a quartet of software threads in parallel.
But not all logical processors are equal. Intel's Core i5 600 series chips are actually dual-core models that support two threads per core thanks to HyperThreading. Core i5 700 series CPUs lack HyperThreading. Instead, you get four bona fide execution cores and one helluva lot more performance. Effective as HyperThreading is, it's no substitute for a real processor core.
Despite a relatively modest 2.8GHz stock clockspeed, it's therefore no surprise to find the Intel Core i5 760 flattens the Core i5 661 and Core i5 655K in literally every performance benchmark. You have to wonder why anyone would want to pay more for one of those Core i5 600 series chips. Intel would no doubt justify the price premium by pointing to the Core i5 600's integrated graphics.
Anyway, a much tougher nut for the Core i5 760 to crack is AMD's new six-core processor. The Phenom II X6 1055T is actually slightly cheaper despite giving the Core i5 760 a pretty solid schooling in our multi-threading tests. As ever, however, the 760 hits back with awesome gaming performance. It also shows the Phenom chip who's boss in our file decompression test.
It's also disappointing to find the new 760 does not appear to offer any additional overclocking headroom. In our testing, the older Core i5 750 actually hits higher frequencies.
If you fancy four cores for the price of two, it's hard to argue against the Core i5 760. It's cheaper than many of Intel's latest dual-core processors and hammers them for all round performance. At this price point, it's also the finest gaming CPU on the market.
Intel has a nasty habit of artificially hobbling some of its mainstream processors. So it is for the Core i5 760. By switching off HyperThreading, Intel has compromised the 760's performance in highly threaded applications such as video encoding and handed the advantage to AMD's similarly priced six-core Phenom II X6 1055T. Shame.
Replaces the Core i5 750 as our favourite gaming chip. No HyperThreading is a bit of a bummer.
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