Core i7-980X CPU Review

The Tested CPUs

On the tables below you can see a comparison between the CPUs we included in our review. AMD CPUs do not support SSE4 instructions (they have a proprietary instruction set called SSE4a, which is not the same thing as SSE4). We only included one CPU from AMD because Phenom II X4 965 is the fastest CPU AMD has available and it is positioned at a lower price range (see table). AMD has announced that they will be also launching a six-core CPU this year, called Phenom II X6.

CPU Cores HT Internal Clock Turbo Clock QPI or HT Base Clock Core Technology TDP Socket Price
Core i7-980X 6 Yes 3.33 GHz 3.60 GHz 6.4 GB/s 133 MHz Gulftown 32 nm 130 W 1366 USD 999
Core i7-965 4 Yes 3.20 GHz 3.46 GHz 6.4 GB/s 133 MHz Bloomfield 45 nm 130 W 1366 USD 999
Core i7-870 4 Yes 2.93 GHz 3.60 GHz 2 GB/s 133 MHz Lynnfield 45 nm 95 W 1156 USD 562
Core i5-750 4 No 2.66 GHz 3.20 GHz 2 GB/s 133 MHz Lynnfield 45 nm 95 W 1156 USD 196
Phenom II X4 965 4 No 3.4 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Deneb 45 nm 140 W * AM3 USD 185

TDP stands for Thermal Design Power which advises the user of the maximum amount of heat the CPU can dissipate. The CPU cooler must be capable of dissipating at least this amount of heat.

* Newer models are coming with a TDP of 125 W. The tested model was from the older version, with a TDP of 140 W.

The prices listed are the official prices for distributors based on 1,000 quantities. The end-user price is higher than the prices listed.

CPU L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache Memory Support Memory Channels
Core i7-980X 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 12 MB total DDR3 up to 1066 MHz Three
Core i7-965 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1066 MHz Three
Core i7-870 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Core i5-750 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X4 965 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two

Socket LGA1366 CPUs talk to the external world (i.e., the chipset) through a bus called QuickPath Interconnect (QPI), which has the same goal as the HyperTransport bus used with AMD CPUs. For a detailed explanation on how QPI bus works, read our Everything You Need to Know About The QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) tutorial. Socket LGA1156 CPUs, however, use the DMI (Digital Media Interface) bus to talk to the chipset, which is the interface previously used to make the connection between the north bridge and the south bridge chips on Intel chipsets. At a first look this solution may seem worse than using the QPI bus, because the DMI interface provides a maximum transfer rate of 2 GB/s while QPI provides a maximum transfer rate of 4.8 GB/s or 6.4 GB/s, depending on the CPU. However, on socket LGA1156 the CPU has an integrated PCI Express 2.0 controller, so these CPUs talk directly to the main video card without using their external bus and without using the chipset.

Our tests have a known flaw. Socket LGA1366 Core i7 processors support triple-channel memory configuration and with them we used three 1 GB DDR3-1066 modules, so these CPUs had 3 GB available. With all other CPUs we used two 1 GB DDR3-1333 modules, so these CPUs had 2 GB available. Unfortunately due to the different memory configuration supported by each CPU, we had to decide which methodology to use, and we chose to use one that would provide the “best” memory configuration for the tested system.

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Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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