It may be a cheaper way to join the high-end Core i7 family, but that doesn't mean it's "cheap." Intel's Core i7-970 ($899), which just started shipping to consumers around a month ago, has just undergone a thorough looking-over at Hot Hardware, where the six-core chip was tested alongside its more potent (and in turn, more costly) siblings. If you've no interest in dropping over a grand for a Core i7-980X, and you aren't about to lower yourself by purchasing a quad-core Core i7-975, this here chip might just do you proud. In testing, critics found the 970 to be quick, but hardly mind-blowing, when handling more mundane tasks; stir in a few heavily threaded applications, though, and it managed to "sail past" the quad-core contemporaries and "keep pace" with the aforementioned 980X. All told, the silicon managed to perform around 5 percent worse than the 980X, yet it rings up for around 12 percent less. If you've got the workflow to truly take advantage of all six cores, and you can stomach not having the absolute best, it seems as if the 970 strikes a fine balance -- and hey, if you're down with overclocking, you can probably get that 5 percent back with just a mild uptick in your energy bill.