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

Benchmark Results: Synthetics

PCMark Vantage employs applications built into Windows Vista and 7. As a synthetic metric, its job is to tax the latest trends in programming for parallelism. However, it’s also real-world in that these metrics are based on operating systems already being used today.

It’s interesting to see just how much of an impact two additional cores has on Vantage. The overall suite score jumps far above the Bloomfield-class CPUs, which themselves are little affected by differences in clock rate. The Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition matches pace fairly easily to the pricier Core i7-920 here.

The Memories suite is less influenced by cores, seeming to favor the higher clocks of the Core i7-980X and Core i7-975 versus more affordable models.

On the other hand, TV and Movies and the Productivity test are both bolstered via Intel’s six-core offering. Notable in both metrics is that the Phenom II maintains its near-parity with the entry-level Core i7 and lone Lynnfield-based Core i5 processors.

The overall 3DMark Vantage chart shows a gradual progression up Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 family, culminating with the new i7-980X. Meanwhile, the Phenom II X4 hands out at the bottom of the pack, next to Intel’s Core i5-750.

Why is this? After all, the GPU score clearly shows four of the five testing platforms performing almost identically. The CPU test tells the tale, as Intel’s hexa-core model cuts through the physics and AI being thrown at it significantly faster than its competition. We can also see that Hyper-Threading has an appreciable effect, as the i7-920 and i5-750, both running at 2.66 GHz, are fairly well-differentiated. The  Phenom II X4 brings up the tail end of the pack here.

SiSoftware’s synthetic suite demonstrates the potential gains attributable to a six-core, 12-thread-capable processor by blowing the doors off of Intel’s previous flagship in the Arithmetic and Multi-media tests.

Memory bandwidth actually drops a bit on the Gulftown-based processor, despite using the same motherboard, triple-channel memory kit, and BIOS configuration. Core i7-980X nevertheless maintains a strong lead over Intel’s dual-channel Lynnfield setup and AMD’s dual-channel Phenom II X4. In discussing with Intel, this is more of an artifact of the application itself, which only takes advantage of four cores, yet still ties up resources on the two cores that remain unutilized.

Perhaps the craziest chart is our Cryptography benchmark, demonstrating the theoretical AES bandwidth gain in MB/s attributable to AES-NI support in Gulftown. This hardware-accelerated boost doesn’t manifest itself so dramatically in the real-world tests coming up, but it’s interesting to see anyway.

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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.