Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition

Six 3.33GHz physical cores and HyperThreading technology give this processor the ability to execute 12 threads simultaneously

  1. Editor's Rating
  • E-Mail
Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition The 980X can execute 12 threads simultaneously and because it's based on 32nm technology, is overclockable too
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  April 26, 2010

Ratings Breakdown

Editor's Rating:
  • Performance:
  • Features:
  • Value for money:
  • Overall:
Key Specs

Bus speed: 1333MHz
Cache memory: 384KB L1, 1.5MB L2, 12MB L3
Clock speed: 3.33GHz
Number of cores: 6
Power consumption: 130watts

Display complete specs ›

The Nehalem architecture is Intel's latest and with the launch of the Core i7 980X - codenamed ‘Gulftown' - the consumer world gets a taste of Intel's first six-core CPU.

Like its predecessor, the quad-core Intel Core i7 975, the 980X runs its cores at 3.33GHz. The CPU is fabricated on a 32nm process, the same manufacturing process used to produce the ‘Clarkdale' Core i3 and i5 CPUs. Because of the shift to this newer, more efficient process the 980X sports the same thermal design power (TDP) footprint as the older 975 (that is 130watts). This is despite the fact that the 980X features two additional 3.33GHz cores.

As the 980X features six cores and is equipped with HyperThreading technology, the CPU can process an impressive twelve software threads simultaneously. If you work with heavily multi-threaded software then, Intel's newest CPU packs major punch. The CPU also includes Turbo Boost technology, so depending on the demands made of the processor, Turbo Boost can throttle individual cores up to a maximum frequency of 3.6GHz.

If you already own an existing Bloomfield system and want to upgrade, you'll find the 980X easy to migrate to because it is compatible with existing X58 motherboards. This is regardless of when they were released; we tried the CPU on several X58 boards, some of which were released towards the end of 2008 and all that was needed was a BIOS update before fitting the new chip.

In terms of performance Gulftown is nothing short of amazing when it comes to multi-threaded software. Running our heavily-threaded Cinebench 10 multi-core benchmark test the CPU finished the render job in 31 seconds and earned a score of 27,691. The older 975X managed a score of 20,274 and took 12 seconds longer to complete the same test. The 980X demonstrated its multi-threading muscle again when running our Bibble Pro 5 benchmark; it completed converting our RAW images into JPEGs in 14.9 seconds whereas the 975X was 10.2 seconds slower.

In software that isn't designed for multi-threading the 980X matched the identically clocked 975X. This was particularly true with games, where both processors scored between 2fps of each other in our Street Fighter IV and World in Conflict benchmarks. Even with Turbo Boost speeding up the cores that are under load, the two CPUs are alike in terms of performance because both feature the same maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 3.6GHz.

Thanks to the new fabrication process the 980X overclocked well. By increasing the voltage to 1.360volts we were able to push the chip to 4.1GHz. This is a decent increase considering we were using the standard Intel cooler. With a better cooling solution and slightly more voltage, we're sure the chip will be able to reach 4.3GHz.

For: Insanely fast when tackling multi-threaded software, compatible with existing X58 motherboards, same TDP as older quad-core chip.
Against: Expensive.
Verdict: There’s no denying the 980X is an impressive beast. The only issue is that it’s still ahead of the software curve, so unless you’re already using multi-threaded software, it’s better to wait for the 980X’s price to drop before taking the plunge.

Your Review

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Performance Features Value for money

Tell us what you like about this product. This field is optional

Tell us what you don't like about this product. This field is optional

Explain to us in detail why you like or dislike the product, focusing your comments on the product's features and functionality. This field is optional

Security code