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
Intel Core i5/i7 (Lynnfield) Test Configuration
AMD Phenom II X4 Test Configuration
The following benchmarks were used in this review: