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I'm hesitating between getting a i5 760 or a i7 860, both of which have 4 cores at 2.8GHz.

The i5 is considerably cheaper -- what is the downside to it? Is it far more limited in the amount of overclocking it can take?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The main factor in overclocking is the quality of the CPU that you get, which is a matter of pure luck.

I quote from OverClocking Risks:

Usually processors in the lower range are produced with the same manufacturing process as the CPUs sold in the mid to high range. The higher rated CPUs are factory overclocked and tested, then sold for a premium. Many users will buy the cheaper processor and over clock it to nearly the same speeds of the premium CPUs. This is a great deal if and only if you are lucky enough to get a CPU that just missed the premium cut during initial factory testing. Sometimes, you will be stuck with a CPU that only over clocks slightly above its rating.

However, you should be warned that with overclocking, you risk one day to burn-out completely your CPU. Luckily, there are warning signs that shouldn't be ignored, such as the occasional unexplainable crash.

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This review should help you out in figuring out what the differences are between the 2 processor families. In a nutshell:

Core i5 is clearly meant to be a more mainstream processor. Those who use their computers for heavily multi-thread applications will miss hyper-threading and the triple-channel memory, which means that a Core i7 on an LGA1366 socket will be best.

So, Core i7 CPUs offer higher memory bandwidth. I don't think there are extreme differences in overclocking potential between the 2 families; I think it's more of a case by case basis for each CPU.

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