Intel Core i7-980X Extreme: Hello, Six-Core Computing

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
Intel Core i7-980X (Gulftown) 3.33 GHz, LGA 1366, 12MB L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-975 Extreme (Bloomfield) 3.33 GHz, LGA 1366, 8MB L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-920 (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1366, 8MB L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i5-750 (Lynnfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1156, 8MB L3, Power-savings enabled

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE (Deneb) 3.4 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Gigabyte X58A-UD5 (LGA 1366) X58 Express, BIOS F4

Gigabyte P55A-UD7 (LGA 1156) P55 Express, BIOS F4

Asus M4A79T Deluxe (Socket AM3) 790FX/SB750, BIOS 2304
Corsair 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333

Corsair 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Hard Drive
Intel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160GB SATA 3 Gb/s

Intel SSDSA2MH080G1GN 80GB SATA 3 Gb/s
Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB
Power Supply
Cooler Master UCP 1100W
Intel DBX-B Thermal Solution
System Software And Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX 11
Platform Driver
Intel INF Chipset Update Utility
Graphics DriverCatalyst 10.2

Benchmarks and Settings

Audio Encoding


Version: (64-bit), Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Default format AAC

Video Encoding

TMPGEnc 4.7

Version:, Import File: "Terminator II" SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.5

Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-Threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search

Xvid 1.2.2

Display encoding status=off

MainConcept Reference 1.6.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core

HandBrake 0.9.4
Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai to .mp4, High Profile


Autodesk 3ds Max 2010 (64-bit)

Version: 2009 Service Pack 1, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

WinRAR 3.90

Version 3.90 (64-bit), Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)


Version 4.65, Built-in Benchmark

Adobe Photoshop CS4
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates filters
AVG Anti-Virus 9
Virus scan of 334MB of compressed files

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00, System, Memories, TV and Movies, and Productivity benchmarks, Windows Media Player

SiSoftware Sandra 2010

CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/Multimedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark, Cryptography

High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024 / 1680x1050 / 1900x1200, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2.1, 64-bit executable
Left 4 Dead 2
High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 8xAA / 16xAF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Tomshardware Demo, Steam Version
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, The Gulag, 60 second sequence, Fraps
DiRT 2
Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, In-Game Benchmark, Steam Version
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  • one-shot
    shuffman37First Comment, I'll be staying up to read this review =)

    I'm guessing you didn't read this.,9855.html
  • tipmen
    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.
  • one-shotI'm guessing you didn't read this. [...] ,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.
  • beans4you
    glad im going with the right x58! miiiight have to upgrade my cpu choice ;)
  • tipmen
    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.
  • gkay09
    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
  • gkay09
    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...
  • cangelini
    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!
  • footsoldier
    wow wow..6 cores already!! Truly is the fastest now. AMD, do keep up!!
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    NO GTA IV? Should get great gains as it's notoriously CPU limited by the best quad cores. Unforgivable.
  • I wonder how much AMD's Phenom II X6 will be and how it will compare to 980X...
  • frozenlead
    Why do we bother with iTunes anymore..just get rid of it. I did I don't even know how many years ago.
  • curnel_D
    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.
  • touchdowntexas13
    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...
  • Zinosys
    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! :)
  • avericia
    "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.
  • shin0bi272
    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.
  • doomtomb
    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.
  • noob2222
    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.
  • magicandy
    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.
  • agnickolov
    Can we please get compilation benchmarks? Please?
    This is a purely productivity processor as the gaming analysis clearly showed, but you are missing an important productivity category - software development...
  • JonnyDough
    When it comes to power consumption only one number really matters and that's "near idle". Background tasks mean that one core has to stay on at all times, but rarely will anyone be using six cores at once. It'll be a an overall rarity that you're actually using all six cores for anything like encoding, your PC is more likely to sit idle, run a game that doesn't require all the processor's power, or be surfing the net. For "full load" I could care less if it's double that of the competition's CPU if I pay a good bit less the rest of the time.
  • Gandalf
    I've only got the 975.
  • dco
    Wouldn't mind seeing a couple older CPU's in there (Core2 Quad/Duo). Seeing as someone owning a i7-975/920 is gonna be less likely to be looking to upgrade any time soon.