Intel Core i7 980X – Gulftown Processor Review

14. X58A SATA 6GB/s // USB 3 Performance16. Conclusion


Overclocking and Thermal Performance

To overclock our 980X we went down the manual route of configuring the CPU bus, multiplier and voltage. The starting point was 3.33GHz using 133×25 at 1.25v. Our final overclock was 147×29 at 1.4v which gave us a 4.26GHz CPU on Intel’s new DBX-B heatsink, speaking of which…

  Stock Max OC
Core i7-980X 3.33GHz (133×25) 4.26GHz (147×29)

Intels New Cooling Solution – DBX-B

Anyone who has bought a retail boxed Intel CPU in the past few years will be familiar with their standard cooler. It is a very basic model which adequately cools the processor with average, at best, noise levels. With the 980X Intel have attempted to take on some of the more reasonably priced after-market coolers; bundling their new DBX-B cooler with the processor.

The DBX-B has aluminium fins connected to four copper heatpipes and it features a 4pin connector with 9" braided cable. The CPU plate is also copper and is highly reflective. Attached to the front is a blue LED 8cm fan which is controlled via a switch on the top of the heatsink. Set to Q the fan runs up to 1800 RPM; at P the RPM is 2600. Intel state the dB rating at 800RPM is 20 and at 1800RPM this increases to 35dB.

Intel provide  a motherboard back plate with the cooler and when installed using the screw down retention method the cooler has been tested to 50x gravity shock force. It also has a 3-year warranty and Intel provide a syringe of Dow Corning TC-1996 thermal interface material.


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To test the performance of the DBX-B we took a mainstream aftermarket cooler and ran it on the 980X. As the results show the new Intel cooler is very competitive in Q/Low mode, offering similar performance to Thermaltake’s £22/$40 cooler. When we move up to P/High setting on the Intel cooler the load temperature is 9 degrees cooler than the Contac 29 which is a great result.

In terms of user experience we are happy to report that the DBX-B is easy to install, though a long screwdriver, approximately 5 inches, is required. Unfortunately we have to say that the noise levels created to achieve the above results are quite undesirable. At 1800RPM (max Q setting) the noise is noticeably louder than the Thermaltake and most midrange aftermarket coolers. At 2600 RPM it is unbearable in any sort of normal environment.

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