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

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Core i7-980X Ready Motherboards

We should be clear from the start that the new Core i7-980X Extreme Edition processor should work in all existing X58-Express based motherboard designs, after a BIOS update. The chip uses the same socket and has the same TDP as current Core i7 processors. That didn't stop a couple of Intel's board partners from shipping some Gulftown-ready motherboards for testing though.



Gigabyte EX58A-UD5

The Gigabyte EX58A-UD5 may be familiar to some of you. It's an updated version of the EX58-UD5 (sans A) that's been a staple around the HH labs since its release. We've used the original UD5 as a testbed for everything from processors, to graphics cards, to solid state drives. The updated EX58A-UD5 builds upon the original by adding support for SATA 6G and USB 3.0, through the use of Marvell and NEC controllers, respectively.

The Gigabyte EX58A-UD5 sports the company's signature blue PCB, with light blue and white accents. The board's slot configuration consists of two PCIe x1 slots, four PCIe x16 slots (2 x 16, 2 x 8), and one PCI slot. A large heatsink and heat-pipe assembly cools the north and southbridge chips, and the board's VRM.

The layout of the Gigabyte EX58A-UD5 is very good overall, things are clearly labeled, and all headers and connectors are situated around the edges of board. In the box, along with the board itself, Gigabyte includes all of the necessary accessories needed to get the board setup in a case, along with some useful additions like SLI bridge connectors, and a retention bracket for said connectors.



Asus P6X58D Premium

Asus also showed up to the party with the P6X58D Premium. Like Gigabyte's offering, the Asus P6X58D Premium features support for USB 3.0 and SATA 6G, and the board's chipset and VRM are cooled by large heatsinks, linked together via heat-pipes.

The P6X58D Premium is outfitted with three PCIe x16 slots, a single x1 slot, and a pair of legacy PCI slots. The board sports a dark colored PCB with blue, white, grey, and black accents, and as is typical of high-end offerings from Asus, the board is jammed with features. The P6X58D Premium supports Asus' TurboV real-time overclocking, MemOK, and ExpressGate. It also sports a 16+2 phase power design, with low RDS (on) MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes, and 100% Japanese-made polymer caps to ensure clean power delivery.

Overall, the layout of the P6X58D Premium is excellent and working with the board proved to be quick, easy and painless.

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