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Intel Core i7 980X - Gulftown Processor Review


by Stuart Davidson - 11th March 2010
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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 133x25 at 1.25v. Our final overclock was 147x29 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 (133x25) 4.26GHz (147x29)

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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