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Intel Core i7-980X Gulftown Six-Core 32nm Processor Review

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MAC

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System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / Cinebench R10

System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / Cinebench R10



SuperPi Mod v1.5

When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.




Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders

 

MAC

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1,106
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / HDxPRT

System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / HDxPRT



PCMark Vantage x64


PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.0.0)
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score

The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding, Video transcoding, Text editing, Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.






HDxPRT 2009



HDxPRT 2009, otherwise known as the Intel High Definition Experience and Performance Ratings Test 2009, is a new platform evaluation tool for measuring digital media experience. HDxPRT evaluates the capabilities of a media PC using real world usage scenarios and popular media applications. The benchmark's results are illustrated in the Create HD Score, which represents the overall digital media creation performance of a test system.

HDxPRT 2009 workloads are based on usages performed with popular programs, like: i. DivX encoder to create videos for YouTube, ii. MainConcept H.264 encoder to create videos for Blu-ray discs, iii. Sorenson Squeeze 5 for Flash videos, iv. Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for Photo editing v. Apple iTunes to convert music for portable media players vi. Cyberlink PowerDVD 8 and Windows Media Player to play H.264 videos vii. On2 Flix 8 Player and Windows Media Player to play Flash videos.


 

MAC

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System Benchmarks: Photoshop CS4 / Lame Front End

System Benchmarks: Photoshop CS4 / Lame Front End



Photoshop CS4

For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 15 results to reach the final figure.




Lame Front End

Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to gauge a processor's single-threaded performance as well as test any turbo feature that it might have. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

 

MAC

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System Benchmarks: x264 HD / WinRAR

System Benchmarks: x264 HD / WinRAR



x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.






WinRAR


WinRAR 3.8.0
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage

Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage



Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.





Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


 

MAC

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Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Far Cry 2

Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Far Cry 2



Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.





Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Very High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings set to very high.



Far Cry 2 has always been quite quirky in our experience. The Dunia engine performs exceptionally well on Phenom II processors. It also loves L2 cache, hence why the Core 2 Quad Q9550 and its 12MB L2 cache performs so well. For some reason, the Clarkdale processor is also a force to be reckoned with in this game. It's numbers are legit we run, re-run, and re-re-run it again. While the i7-980X does beat out the other Core i5 & i7 models, the difference is minimal.
 

MAC

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Location
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Gaming Benchmarks: Left 4 Dead / Particle Simulation

Gaming Benchmarks: Left 4 Dead / Particle Simulation



Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead (Latest Update)
Resolution: 1680x1050
Filtering: 4X MSAA / Anisotropic 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Shader Detail: Very High
Test 1: HWC Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Left 4 Dead is the latest disorienting, fast-paced zombie apocalypse mega-hit from Valve. L4D uses the latest version of the Source engine with enhancements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation. We test here at 1680x1050 with in-game details set to their highest levels, with MSAA 4X and AA 8X. For benching, we used a pre-recorded 20 minute timedemo taken on the No Mercy campaign during The Apartments mission.



Although the Source engine scales very well with multi-core processors, we discovered that the scaling seems to stop at eight threads, hence why the Core i7-980X doesn't take the lead. We actually found that it was faster in this benchmark when we disabled two cores and ran it as a quad-core/eight-thread processor.


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Default
Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.



Although more of a tech demo than anything else, VPSB demonstrates the type of performance gains that can be had with the i7-980X in games that support 8+ threads.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Location
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Gaming Benchmarks: Street Fighter 4 / World in Conflict

Gaming Benchmarks: Street Fighter 4 / World in Conflict



Street Fighter 4


Street Fighter 4 Demo
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Graphic Settings: High
Test 1: Built-in Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Street Fighter IV is a 2008 arcade game produced by famous developer Capcom, that has finally been released on the PC platform. This game has not been 'ported' since the Street Fighter IV arcade machines actually have PC internals, with circa 2005 components. As a result, the version of the game released on the PC is considered the definitive version. With fully multi-threaded engine and an astounding hybrid 2D/3D graphics style, this game is sure to please all fans of the Street Fighter series.





World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Power Consumption / Temperature Testing

Power Consumption / Temperature Testing



Power Consumption



For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the respective BIOSes and the Windows Vista power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced.

For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter.

For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter.

For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, while simultaneously loading the GPU with OCCT v3.1.0 GPU:OCCT stress test at [email protected] in full screen mode.


Lately, Intel have been on a roll when it comes to lowering power consumption. Both Lynnfield and Clarkdale established new records when it comes to performance-per-watt in the consumer realm. With Gulftown, Intel sought to vastly increase overall multi-threaded performance while keeping the overall power consumption in the same realm as the previous Bloomfield chips.

As you can see, despite 50% more cores, and 50% more cache, the i7-980X has exactly the same power consumption as the i7-975. That's a testament to the new 32nm manufacturing process, but we definitely suspect that Intel have done a few other little improvements under the hood.

This is definitely the processor (or at least processor family, ie: Gulftown) that BOINC, WGC, and [email protected] bigadv crunchers have been waiting for.


Temperature Testing



For the temperature testing, we used both the stock Intel DBX-B CPU cooler and a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme (TRUE). The system was left to idle for 15 minutes, and then we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs for 15 minutes. The ambient temperature was 23°C/73.4°F. Keep in mind that the thermal sensors in most modern processors is not really accurate at measuring idle temperatures, hence the very small delta between the room temp and the idle results.


Although every single chip exhibits unique thermal variances, we can tell you that our i7-980X ran a little cooler than our i7-975. These chips aren't fire-breathers by any means. The new DBX-B had some pretty solid cooling performance, but as we mentioned previously, we can't recommend that anyone use it in Performance mode since the fan makes a high pitched noise that drove us crazy. If you aren't noise sensitive, and if your system is in a proper case and away from you, it might be OK. Thankfully, performance in Quiet mode is not significantly worse and it is substantly quieter. Overall, we are pleased with both Gulftown's thermal output and the DBX-B's cooling performance.
 

MAC

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Location
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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


Tada!...


Ok, pick your jaw off of the floor. This is merely a 'suicide' screenshot, which is what far too many sites do. There is obviously zero stability at this frequency, and we used more vCore voltage than the 1.40V absolute maximum that Intel specifies in the Gulftown whitepaper, which isn't good especially when you are using air-cooling like we are. Silliness aside, let's move onto the stable overclocks.


Highest Stable CPU Overclock




Click on image to enlarge

Since this is after all a brand new $999 processor, we self-imposed a 1.35V-ish maximum during our preliminary overclocking sessions with this processor. With the unlocked multipliers overclocking was obviously a breeze, as we could merely increase the CPU multiplier as needed and adjust the BCLK to extract those last few megahertz.

We were fairly satisfied with our results. Yes, you can get somewhat similar clocks at similar voltage from a cherry Core i7-9xx D0, but those tend to run exceedingly hot. Our sample ran fairly cool, peaking in the upper 70C's during LinX. Furthermore, we suspect that we have a relatively early sample since ours was manufactured in 2009 while all the other i7-980X's that we've seen were made in 2010. Combine this with the fact that Intel's review sample E.S chips are never really great overclockers, and I'm willing to go on a limb and say that the retail processors will be able to achieve a solid 100-200Mhz more than our sample at a similar voltage.


Highest Stable BCLK Overclock




Click on image to enlarge

On the BCLK-front, we achieved 216Mhz, which is good but isn't a huge improvement over what Bloomfield's are capable of. Having said that, the motherboard is obviously a potential bottleneck. Further testing is needed on another motherboard.
 
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