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Benchmark Results: Productivity

The Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition Processor Review
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We were impressed enough with Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture that we awarded the Core i5-2500K our coveted Recommended Buy award. Just north of $200, that’s a solid value. But it’s not Intel’s flagship. That honor goes to the new Core i7-990X Extreme.

ABBYY’s FineReader 10, an optical character recognition app, was another requested benchmark. We’ve automated the scanning of a 111-page document for testing—a task that apparently really appreciates parallelism.

Both Core i7 Extreme Editions cruise past the Core i7-2600K in our OCR workload. The difference isn’t earth-shattering or anything. But when you consider the fastest chip in our Sandy Bridge launch coverage was the -2600K, two faster CPUs are definitely newsworthy.

Lame is a single-threaded test, which means the Core 7-2600K accelerates up to 3.8 GHz. Add to that significant per-clock improvements in Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture and you have an explanation for the chip’s dominance here, in WinZip, and in iTunes.

Core i7-990X spins up to 3.73 GHz with a single core active. That’s good enough to earn it a second-place finish.

WinZip remains the only single-threaded title in our benchmark suite, making it the least likely program we’d use on a modern multi-core platform (that sure helps explain the 3:00+ compression times).

Naturally, the Core i7-2600K takes another victory, followed by the Core i7-990X running as fast as 3.73 GHz in poorly-optimized apps like this one.

You get a lot more utilization out of the latest version of WinRAR. Using all six cores, Intel’s Core i7-990X scores a first-place finish, ducking in under the one-minute mark. The Core i7-980X comes in second, while the Core i7-960 places third. Despite its per-clock and raw frequency advantage, the Core i7-2600K falls into fourth place, suggesting a bottleneck elsewhere.

Our results in 7-Zip are right where we’d expect them given this (free) app’s threaded nature. The Core i7-990X takes first, followed by the Core i7-980X. Intel’s newer Sandy Bridge-based chip comes in third, trailed by the Core i7-960.

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  • 2 Hide
    kikireeki , February 25, 2011 5:47 AM
    Chris, I think your first conclusion still valid.
  • 9 Hide
    binoyski , February 25, 2011 5:55 AM
    Darn, the contest should be open to all Tom's Hardware registered users even from a different country!
  • 5 Hide
    Saljen , February 25, 2011 6:03 AM
    My friend just built a new gaming rig with the 980x as the processor... He plays Age of Conan. I busted up laughing when he said he spent $1k on a processor that he'll only use to 1/10th of its potential. Told him he should have gotten an i5, now I'll send him this article as further proof.
  • -2 Hide
    HansVonOhain , February 25, 2011 6:14 AM
    This is just a ripoff by intel on those who are not knowledgeable enough that more expensive does not always mean better.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , February 25, 2011 6:18 AM
    kikireekiChris, I think your first conclusion still valid.


    Which one was that? :) 
  • 3 Hide
    adamboy64 , February 25, 2011 6:19 AM
    Well, some people just want the best when they buy a PC, regardless of cost efficiency, can't blame 'em. There'll always be that market.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , February 25, 2011 6:19 AM
    binoyskiDarn, the contest should be open to all Tom's Hardware registered users even from a different country!


    Really wish it could be binoyski. We have specific tax laws, unfortunately, that prevent it. Same reason the folks in RI can't enter :-/
  • 4 Hide
    joytech22 , February 25, 2011 6:20 AM
    Wow AMD's CPU is just getting plain-ol decimated in this review.

    Still, it does hold it's ground even though the architecture is like 4 years old, using the same technology that was around back when the C2Q's we're the high-end (the same as the original phenoms on a die shrink).

    Because of this, I can almost guarantee AMD's success with their future CPU's, just like I predicted the 2600K would be faster in most cases than the 980X.

    That doesn't mean I'm saying that Bulldozer will outperform the i7's or upcoming 8-core Intel CPU's I'm just saying that there's going to be some serious decisions for upgraders this year.

    I mean look at Magny corus 12 core (2.2GHz) vs i7 980x, it's almost as fast and 1GHz slower (but 12 physical cores) and cost's the same.
  • 5 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , February 25, 2011 6:47 AM
    joytech22Wow AMD's CPU is just getting plain-ol decimated in this review.

    i wouldnt say decimated, and its cheaper also. That benchmark of metro 2033 is interesting, particularly the better lowfps the AMD chip managed. But i agree they have flogged this horse as far as it will go and they need bulldozer ASAP to be competitive.
  • 1 Hide
    haplo602 , February 25, 2011 6:56 AM
    HansVonOhainThis is just a ripoff by intel on those who are not knowledgeable enough that more expensive does not always mean better.


    I thought that's what Intel is doing with all of their CPUs :-)
  • -4 Hide
    curtis_87 , February 25, 2011 7:37 AM
    binoyskiDarn, the contest should be open to all Tom's Hardware registered users even from a different country!


    I agree, an think of the publicity Toms, spotty 17yr old kid in africa wins 2 x Combo Intel Core i7-990X and Intel DX58SO2 Motherboard: Value of $1261...

    In this age of globalisation and almost non-existent boundaries on the net to your customers...I think you could afford to encompass anyone any where..
  • 2 Hide
    Travis Beane , February 25, 2011 7:40 AM
    I have a reason to stay with a LGA 1336 chip instead of upgrading.
    My feature rich motherboard cost me $300. :) 

    I know it's the nature for electronics to evolve, but going from my 2.66GHz i7 quadcore to looking at a 3.46 sexacore at the same TDP, I find it impressive.

    I'm waiting for LGA 2011 to upgrade again, thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    kashifme21 , February 25, 2011 8:08 AM
    I purchased the I7 920 at launch, 2 years on in 2010 i was looking for a upgrade even though it wasnt really needed. So it was either waiting for sandy bridge getting a new motherboard and CPU or going for the I7 980x.

    New mother board and CPU would end up costing me 700usd anyways, so i decided to go for the I7 980x. Oced it to 4.5ghz, i think i will stick with this setup until a game actually comes up and needs more, i dont see that happening for the next few years atleast or atleast until next consoles turn up.
  • 0 Hide
    silky salamandr , February 25, 2011 8:13 AM
    AMD gettin the business like always.

    I check probably 10 times a day hoping that the egg gets 1155 back online. They activated the procs last week so they should be getting the mobos back in soon I hope!
  • 1 Hide
    kikireeki , February 25, 2011 8:25 AM
    cangeliniWhich one was that?


    Two months ago, when I finished testing Intel’s Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K, I came to the conclusion that you’d have to be battier than Charlie Sheen with a suitcase of blow to spend $1000 on a Core i7-980X Extreme Edition in the face of Sandy Bridge-based CPUs. I was so convinced, in fact, that I didn’t bother benchmarking the super-exclusive chip, and instead focused on drilling deep into Quick Sync and Intel’s HD Graphics engines.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 25, 2011 8:28 AM
    YIPES! The cpu costs more than the pc's I build.
  • 4 Hide
    killerclick , February 25, 2011 9:03 AM
    I'll get the 990x just because I can and I'll use it for web browsing and e-mail.
  • 1 Hide
    dww , February 25, 2011 9:21 AM
    So 6 cores are sometimes better than 4, and Intel might still be able to sell their stock of i7-9x0X's, especially where people already have LGA 1366 motherboards.

    I do database work which DOES benefit from extra cores, but I think I'll wait until they bring out 6 or 8 core Sandy Bridge chips.
  • -3 Hide
    jimishtar , February 25, 2011 10:27 AM
    cangeliniReally wish it could be binoyski. We have specific tax laws, unfortunately, that prevent it. Same reason the folks in RI can't enter :-/

    What tax? U get all hardware for free, right? Anyway, I am more than willing to pay for all the tax + delivery expenses, you just send the combo, np. Or don't giveaway at all, cause this is just pure discrimination.
  • 0 Hide
    lostandwandering , February 25, 2011 11:41 AM
    Good performance numbers for the 990x in certain situations. Though the 2600K was never far enough behind to make the 990x all that relevant. Especially, not to someone upgrading from an older Core2 or Athlon X2 system. Sure wouldn't mind getting one for free though....
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