CPU Guide

Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition review

Intel's Hexa Strike - Core i7-980X Extreme Edition

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Performance:
9
Features:
8.5
Value:
6.5
THE GOOD
Consumes less or equal power compared to Intel's competing quad-cores
Excellent overclocking potential
THE BAD
Costly


Test Setup

Test Setup

There's no six-core equivalent to stack the Core i7-980X against, so we turn to Intel's previous champion, the Core i7-975 Extreme Edition. This unlocked quad-core runs at the same 3.33GHz clock speed as the Core i7-980X at default (discounting Turbo Boost) and we tested both on an identical X58 platform built around a Gigabyte X58 Extreme motherboard (except for a difference in BIOS versions). The main differences between the two are in the number of cores and the 45nm manufacturing process of the older Core i7-975 XE.

Even more illogically, Intel's recommended retail prices for these two chips are identical at US$999 (for 1k units), though we have seen the Core i7-975 XE in retail at US$969, perhaps in anticipation. Both are processors rated at 130W TDP.

Besides these two expensive processors, we have added in the more affordable models that consumers are likely to buy, like the entry triple-channel Core i7-920 and the newer, Clarkdale-based Core i7-870, which operates on a dual-channel memory architecture and uses an LGA1156 socket. Finally, we threw in AMD's Phenom II X4 965 as a reference on where the competition stands. Of course, they are on paper, world's apart, with this quad-core Phenom II costing a fifth of the Core i7-980X.

Intel Core i7 Test Configuration

  • Gigabyte X58 Extreme (Intel X58 Express chipset) (F7 BIOS for Core i7-975 XE and F11 BIOS for Core i7-980X)
  • 3 x 1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (CAS 7-7-7-20)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 (ForceWare 178.24)
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • Intel INF 9.1.0.1007 and Matrix Storage Manager 8.6.0.1007

 

Intel Core i5/i7 (Lynnfield) Test Configuration

  • Intel DP55KG (Intel P55 Express chipset)
  • 2 x 1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (CAS 7-7-7-20)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 (ForceWare 178.24)
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • Intel INF 9.1.1.1015 and Matrix Storage Manager 8.9.0.1023

 

AMD Phenom II X4 Test Configuration

  • MSI 790FX-GD70 (AMD 790FX + SB750)
  • 2 x 1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (7-7-7-20)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 (ForceWare 178.24)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2

 

Benchmarks

The following benchmarks were used in this review:

  • SPECCPU 2000 v1.3
  • BAPCo SYSmark 2007 Preview (ver 1.05)
  • Futuremark PCMark 2005 Pro
  • Lightwave 3D 7.5
  • 3ds Max 8 (SP2)
  • Cinebench 10
  • XMpeg 5.03 (DivX 6.8 encoding)
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 v1.1
  • AquaMark3
  • World in Conflict v1.05
  • Crysis v1.1