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Conclusion

Intel Core i7-980X Extreme: Hello, Six-Core Computing
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Even before benchmarking Intel’s new Core i7-980X I had a sense for how the processor would perform. Add cores and cache, but leave the rest of the architecture alone, and don’t be surprised to see scaling wholly dependent on software’s ability to utilize those additional compute resources.

Fortunately, for Intel, most of the apps in our benchmark suite are able to make the best of Gulftown’s six cores, reflecting a software environment that has come a long way since the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 debuted back in 2005. Now, we’re making benchmark decisions based on whether titles are threaded or not.

It’s a bit of a bummer, then, that the only six-core CPU for the desktop is Intel’s Core i7-980X. The processor is certainly impressive. It takes the performance of Core i7-975 and accelerates it even further, especially in MainConcept, HandBrake, Photoshop, and TMPGEnc’s DivX encoding workload. At the same $999 price point, picking the 980X over the 975 is a no-brainer. Time is money. If the time Core i7-980X will shave off your renders, encode jobs, or CAD projects is worth the processor’s asking price, this is the fastest desktop processor money can buy. Update: Intel clarifies that Gulftown will be available within the next few weeks; it's simply taking the wraps off of the processor a bit early. So, Core i7-980X will be the fastest desktop processor just as soon as it's available.

But again, we’re talking about a thousand bucks here. If you’re primarily gaming, we see the Core i7-920, Core i5-750, and Phenom II X4 965 serving up just as much muscle at the resolutions and quality settings at which you’re going to want to play.

What’d really be cool for the enthusiast crowd would be a line of quad-core CPUs manufactured at 32nm. Almost certainly scalable to even higher clock rates and armed with AES-NI, these would be high-performance, lower-power options that’d go really well with today’s less-expensive X58-based motherboards.

The potential for such a design is supported by Intel’s plans to launch quad-core 32nm Xeon processors based on its Westmere-EP design. But the most we could get out of Intel regarding its desktop plans was “we’re considering all options.” Ah well, we tried. At least for the near future, it looks like Intel will get to bask in the even-larger performance advantage its Core i7-980X opens up over the competition’s fastest offering. Just be ready to open your wallet wide for the privilege of owning one.

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    one-shot , March 11, 2010 3:15 AM
    shuffman37First Comment, I'll be staying up to read this review =)


    I'm guessing you didn't read this.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/toms-hardware-reviews-news-comments,9855.html
  • 18 Hide
    frozenlead , March 11, 2010 3:53 AM
    Why do we bother with iTunes anymore..just get rid of it. I did I don't even know how many years ago.
  • 13 Hide
    eugenester , March 11, 2010 3:47 AM
    I wonder how much AMD's Phenom II X6 will be and how it will compare to 980X...
Other Comments
  • 29 Hide
    one-shot , March 11, 2010 3:15 AM
    shuffman37First Comment, I'll be staying up to read this review =)


    I'm guessing you didn't read this.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/toms-hardware-reviews-news-comments,9855.html
  • 9 Hide
    tipmen , March 11, 2010 3:15 AM
    Hm, not bad at all more cores at the same price as 975. Games don't seem to scale that much but CAD and transcoding is improved overall. Glad to see AMDs 965 hold its own in the game segment.
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2010 3:19 AM
    one-shotI'm guessing you didn't read this.http://www.tomshardware.com/news/t [...] ,9855.html

    Nope, Haven't bothered looking at that. The 980x doesn't really make any difference in gaming but I wasn't expecting anything earth shattering. Does look good against the 965 x4 for mutlimedia applications.
  • 0 Hide
    beans4you , March 11, 2010 3:21 AM
    glad im going with the right x58! miiiight have to upgrade my cpu choice ;) 
  • 3 Hide
    tipmen , March 11, 2010 3:25 AM
    shuffman37Nope, Haven't bothered looking at that. The 980x doesn't really make any difference in gaming but I wasn't expecting anything earth shattering. Does looks good against the 965 x4 for mutlimedia applications.



    It is a good reminder how to act on toms you should read it when you get the chance.
  • 1 Hide
    gkay09 , March 11, 2010 3:27 AM
    Lolz...The Crysis benchmark and the Chris's starting line...Am sure he would have been forced to post that so that no one start with the infamous tag line "But can it play Crysis ?" :p 
  • 13 Hide
    gkay09 , March 11, 2010 3:32 AM
    And Chris it would be nice if you could post some benchmarks of games that are CPU taxing like the GTA IV/ FSX...Most of the games used in the above benchmarks dont tax the CPU as much as these...
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , March 11, 2010 3:40 AM
    I hear you there gkay...I used to do more with GTA IV (not sure how prolific FS X still is), but it just depends on how many folks still want to see it. As a *general* rule, $1,000 CPUs aren't going to do much for your high-res gaming. However, it's a good point that there are a couple of titles notorious for hitting graphics far less than host processing power!
  • 1 Hide
    footsoldier , March 11, 2010 3:43 AM
    wow wow..6 cores already!! Truly is the fastest now. AMD, do keep up!!
  • -4 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , March 11, 2010 3:46 AM
    NO GTA IV? Should get great gains as it's notoriously CPU limited by the best quad cores. Unforgivable.
  • 13 Hide
    eugenester , March 11, 2010 3:47 AM
    I wonder how much AMD's Phenom II X6 will be and how it will compare to 980X...
  • 18 Hide
    frozenlead , March 11, 2010 3:53 AM
    Why do we bother with iTunes anymore..just get rid of it. I did I don't even know how many years ago.
  • 0 Hide
    curnel_D , March 11, 2010 4:01 AM
    TheCapuletFSX would be a perfect gaming title for the CPU benchies. The thing is, it's not a gaming crowd title, but there are still a ton of people who still use it.Another really good title for CPU benchmarks is Lost planet. From what I remember, it is one of the best cpu scaling games, even today.

    Wholly agreed.
  • 0 Hide
    touchdowntexas13 , March 11, 2010 4:06 AM
    Alright, so just a bit of speculation, but how does everyone expect these new six-core cpu's to affect prices of the mid-high grade cpus?

    Obviously this Intel won't be forcing down any reasonable prices, but I am hoping that AMD's six core will bring down the price of either the i5-750 or the i7-930.

    I guess one can always hope...
  • 2 Hide
    Zinosys , March 11, 2010 4:16 AM
    Well, from a gaming standpoint, there is not much difference between the chips. But in a corporate environment (workstations/servers), the 6-core processors are going to make a HUGE difference, and to say that you can run 2 extra cores with almost the same power consumption, that's priceless.

    Great article! :) 
  • 2 Hide
    avericia , March 11, 2010 4:17 AM
    "What’d really be cool for the enthusiast crowd would be a line of quad-core CPUs manufactured at 32nm. Almost certainly scalable to even higher clock rates"

    This is exact same thing I've been dreaming of, a high clocked 32nm quad at a reasonable price, maybe even with an unlocked multiplier :p 


    Hopefully we don't have to wait until Q1 2011 to be able to buy one.
  • 5 Hide
    shin0bi272 , March 11, 2010 4:37 AM
    To be honest the main reason I got an x58 mobo when they came out was the rumor that there was going to be an 8 core version with HT and turbo mode within 2 years of the original launch date. It would seem those reports were right (they were intel's original claims after all) but might be a little late depending on how fast the 6 cores sell. But hopefully by the time the 8 core versions come out I'll have the money to buy one lol.

    Great article though I really enjoyed flipping through all the pages of benchies... sort of wish you could have used dual 5970's for the gaming test though since the 5850 seems to have been your bottleneck with all the game tests.
  • 6 Hide
    doomtomb , March 11, 2010 4:38 AM
    This thing is real and it's FAST. I'm impressed but gamers, you don't need it. Benchmark breakers and Pixar need it though.
  • 4 Hide
    noob2222 , March 11, 2010 4:56 AM
    This is definatly aimed at business use only. Gamers would be wasting thier money on something like this.

    Without seeing numbers, I'd guess AMD will counter with 2/3 of the performance, (possibly more depending on how aggressive they take thier speed boost), but it will be at 1/3 of the price. We may find out as early as April.
  • 1 Hide
    magicandy , March 11, 2010 5:06 AM
    How can you run game benchmarks for a CPU without testing THE most CPU-taxing genre, RTS? Seriously, I was at least expecting World in Conflict or SupCom 2....I mean those games will really show you CPU differences.
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