Intel Core i7-990X Extreme: Crazy Fast Got Faster

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Intel has taken the LGA1366 socket down a long, profitable road from Nehalem to Gulftown.  It's a lot of pins to work with and with the design and manufacturing resources that Intel has at their disposal, it's not surprising this latest LGA1366 derivative offers a ton of headroom too.

Overclocking Intel's Fastest Desktop Chip
Standard Retail Air Cooling but With A Lot of Headroom
CPU-Z shows us what the new 990X is made of.  Seen here at it's top-end Turbo Boost speed of 3.73GHz with a 28X multiplier, you'll also note that voltage is being monitored at a svelte .968V (plus or minus a few tenths of a volt).  Beyond that we have 12MB of shared L3 cache (1.5MB or 256K per core of L2), a stock reference clock speed of 133MHz and a QPI link speed of 3.2GHz, which translates to 6.4GT/sec of bi-directional bandwidth.



And of course we decided to check out the available upside potential of the new chip with a bit of elbow grease and overclocking.  In reality, the elbow grease required was minimal and with the help of Intel's DX58SO2 motherboard (details on the coming pages), we were able to do some rather magical things with our new Extreme Edition friend.


Intel Core i7-990X Overclocked to 4.3GHz, Stock Retail Cooler, 100% Load

With a simple retail Intel cooler at our disposal, we were able to bump the chip's reference clock to 166MHz, leaving the multiplier set to 28X with Turbo Boost disabled.  For good measure we also goosed a few tenths of a volt higher for core voltage to 1.33V. Also, to ensure stability, the QPI link multiplier was dropped, especially since overclocking QPI does nothing for performance. The end result was a peppy 4.3GHz overclock, fully stable under 100% load.  We also booted and ran several loops of Cinebench (seen in the background here) at 4.5GHz (170MHz on the ref clock).  Unfortunately 4.5GHz wasn't fully stable but perhaps with more exotic cooling and a bit more tinkering that speed would have been attainable as well.  Regardless, where we have historically maxed out at 4.1GHz with this sort of basic setup, it appears, over time, that Intel has improved their yield margins significantly with their 6-core Core i7 variant.

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Just as you gents said, get the 970. You are not going to notice the performance difference.

On a side note, why no Sandy Bridge chips in the compo?

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Yeah it cool , but does it have Adonis DNA? LOL

Btw what is going to happen with the 980X? I see it's not in your price chart, so is it going away?

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The 990x is my dream processor, but ever since the 970 felt under $600 , its the obvious choice for an upgrade,...Thats about 100 bucks per core.

InfinityzeN1:
On a side note, why no Sandy Bridge chips in the compo?

Marco did the review of the Desktop Sandy Bridge, and guess who came over his house to do a Web show called "This Old Nerd" and went away with some neat processors?

.....But seriously, That's the first thing that came to mind. The 2600k numbers should have been present and so is the 1100T,... The i7-870 / i5-750 and x4-965 just don't belong there.  Also, while its nice to see the Overclocking performance of the 990x with the stock cooler, I would have liked to see how far Dave could have pushed the 990x using an after market cooling solution.

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Can't completely agree with you on the other processors in my charts, Sammy, but I'm going to roll in some Sandy Bridge numbers, just for you, right now. What service! :)

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Dave_HH:
Can't completely agree with you on the other processors in my charts, Sammy

I take it back, your right.. Just like High end Graphics card get compared to their weakling sibling, High End CPUs have the same right,..Sorry Dave, I guess I woke up grumpy today, I have to adapt to waking up early again.

Drake_McNasty:
If you really want to compare it to the sandy bridge just look at the review of those processors (here) and pretend the 980x is a tiny bit higher in the charts.

I know that if I want to see the numbers put up by SB and the 1100t , I can just go and Click the "PROCESSOR" tab on top, But The 2600k and 1100t numbers should be there because a lot of people are deciding whether go for SB , High End i7 or AMD, and having all on one review makes it convenient for them as HH gets new user everyday. Just my humble opinion.

Dave_HH:
but I'm going to roll in some Sandy Bridge numbers, just for you, right now. What service! :)

HH is the best!!Yes

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All set, Sammy! Added our WinRAR tests for an additional page of data, in there too just for giggles. :)

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It will probably get a price cut soon, but currently Intel still lists them as being $999 on their website.

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Good review, it preformed as expected. If you really want to compare it to the sandy bridge just look at the review of those processors (here) and pretend the 980x is a tiny bit higher in the charts.

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I have Sandy Bridge in the 990X charts now Drake. Just added them. Thanks for the catch guys. Good points all around.

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The Sandy Bridge numbers give raise to some interesting thoughts. I really want to see how the Sandy Bridge version of the 9XX will perform. I think with 3 memory channels and 6 cores, the thing will be a true monster. Guess we will just have to wait and see though.

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