Intel Core i7-980X Extreme 6-Core Processor Review

Article Index

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: First the quick and dirty performance summary... The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is the fastest desktop processor we have ever tested, bar none. We could end the story there, but as always, there are some caveats.

The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is sort of a jack-of-all-trades. The processor's stock frequency is 3.33GHz, which is tied for the fastest clock of any Core i7 CPU. That means even while processing single-threaded workloads, it's going to be as fast or faster than any other current desktop CPU. That said, the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is also outfitted with six-cores, 50% more than Bloomfield-based Core i7s, which means it's going to tear though multi-threaded workloads that much easier too. Factor in support for AES-NI, HyperThreading, and bump the shared L3 cache up to a cool 12MB, and you've got the makings of one seriously fast CPU. Of course, our benchmark testing showed the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition to be the best performing desktop processor we've ever tested, reaffirming that quick-and-dirty assessment above.

The release of a six-core processor like the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is bound to spur numerous debates on the need to continually scale core counts moving forward. When dual-core processors first shipped, some said they weren't necessary, at least at the time. The same was said when quad-cores arrived. And we're certain the very same talking points will be repeated ad nauseam now that a six-core processor is almost upon us. While there is still a long way to go before the majority of applications can truly take advantage of the resources afforded by a six-core chip capable of processing up to 12 threads, the fact remains there are usage models and many situations where the power of a CPU like the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition can be put to very good use.

Regardless of whether you believe a six-core processor is overkill or not, we must all step back and assess what Intel plans to do with the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition. This new processor offers 50% more cores and 50% more cache than the previous generation, which equates to vastly improved performance in some situations. Also, Intel has achieved this within the same power envelope, using the same platform. The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition will also retail for the same $999 as previous Extreme Edition processors and include a much better stock cooler. While $999 is an enormous price to pay for a CPU, at least now prospective Extreme Edition buyers will get much more for the money. Cheap? No. Powerful? You bet.

As hardware enthusiasts, we can't help but be impressed by the new Core i7-980X Extreme Edition. It is quite simply the most powerful, highest-performing desktop CPU money can almost buy. If Gulftown is the tick, to Nehalem's tock, we can't wait to see what Sandy Bridge has in store. Bring on IDF 2010.


  • Extreme Performance
  • Great Overclocker
  • 6-Cores!
  • Compatible With Existing Mobos
  • Ultra Expensive
  • Resources Will Be Wasted With Some Workloads

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