Skip to main content

The Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition Processor Review

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-990X (Gulftown) 3.46 GHz (26 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 12 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core i7-980X (Gulftown) 3.33 GHz (25 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 12 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core i7-960 (Bloomfield) 3.2 GHz (24 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) 3.4 GHz (34 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban) 3.3 GHz (16.5 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo CORE enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardAsus Rampage III Formula (LGA 1366) Intel X58 Express, BIOS 0505
Asus Maximus IV Extreme (LGA 1155) Intel P67 Express, BIOS 0901
MSI 890FXA-GD70 (Socket AM3) AMD 890FX/SB850, BIOS 1.85
MemoryKingston 8 GB (4 x 2 GB) DDR3-2133, KHX2133C9AD3W1K2/4GX x 2 @ DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20 and 1.65 V
Crucial 12 GB (3 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333, MT16JTF51264AZ-1G4D1 @ DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20 and 1.65 V
Hard DriveOCZ RevoDrive X2 240 GB PCI Express x4 (Main Test Bed)
Intel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s (Graphics/Quick Sync Test Bed)
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 266.58
3D Games Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
Metro 2033Game Settings: High Quality Settings, PhysX: Off, AAA, 4x AF, Wait for vertical sync: disabled, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1600, Demo: Built-in Benchmark Utility
F1 2010Video Mode: 1680x1050Game Settings:  Ultra Quality Settings, Anti Aliasing: Disabled, Anisotropic Filtering: disabled, Sync Every Frame: No, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1600, Demo: Custom Tom's Hardware Demo
Aliens Vs. PredatorVideo Mode: 1680x1050Game Settings: High Quality Settings, Anti Aliasing: Disabled, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x, Vertical Sync: Disabled, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1600, Demo: AvP Demo Run
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
iTunesVersion: 10.0.1.1, 64-bit Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3 Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.94Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2Version: 2.0.0.1555 MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4 RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 14Version 14.0 Pro (8652) WinZIP Commandline Version 3, ZIPX, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
7-ZipVersion 9.2LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 10 x64, Rendering Space Flyby Mentalray (SPECapc_3dsmax9)Frame: 248, Resolution: 1440 x 1080
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5Video length 2min 21s, Export to H.264 Blu-raySource 960x720, Output 1280x720
Adobe After Effects CS5Create Video which includes 3 StreamsFrames: 210, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
CinebenchVersion 11.5 Build CB25720DEMOCPU Test single and multi threaded
BlenderVersion: 2.54 beta Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, Resolution: 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing: 8x, Render: THG.blend frame 1
Adobe Photoshop CS 5 (64-Bit)Version: 11 Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15000x7266), Filters:, Radial Blur (Amount: 10, Method: zoom, Quality: good) Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark sysmbol) Median (Radius: 1px) Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
ABBYY FinereaderVersion: 10 Professional Build (10.0.102.82) Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.2.0 Patch 1901
3DMark 11Version 1.0.1
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version: 2010.1.16.10 Processor Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwith
  • kikireeki
    Chris, I think your first conclusion still valid.
    Reply
  • binoyski
    Darn, the contest should be open to all Tom's Hardware registered users even from a different country!
    Reply
  • Saljen
    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.
    Reply
  • HansVonOhain
    This is just a ripoff by intel on those who are not knowledgeable enough that more expensive does not always mean better.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    kikireekiChris, I think your first conclusion still valid.
    Which one was that? :)
    Reply
  • adamboy64
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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 :-/
    Reply
  • joytech22
    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.
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    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.
    Reply
  • haplo602
    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 :-)
    Reply