As for the CPU itself, it is exceptional. When we first received the 980X our expectations were that it would offer a decent performance increase over the 975 when running applications which take advantage of the additional cores. As our results show this proved to be the case but it is only when using the processor that it becomes clear just how fast it is. When fully utilised by an application, such as Cinebench, the 980X offers a level of performance which is noticeably faster than the previous high end model, the i7-975. This performance increase carries over into real world tests such as Adobe Media Encoder which ensures that content creation professionals or enthusiasts will benefit from the new processor. Even games, provided they are coded appropriately, benefit from the additional cores on the 980X.
It was also great to see that the use of a 32nm process keeps temperatures and TDP at a reasonable level, in fact the 980X runs a little cooler than the 975 despite having more cores/threads and cache. Overclocking is also a highlight on this product, achieving a 900MHz increase on air cooling.
Gigabyte’s high end X58 board arrived with very high expectations. In the last month we have reviewed their 790FX and 890GX based boards and found both to be near perfect in terms of build quality, design and performance. Thankfully the X58A-UD7 continues the trend of phenomenal motherboards from Gigabyte. The board has the same first class build quality we have come to expect, including the use of 2oz copper PCB, dual BIOS and high quality components such as ferrite core chokes and solid capacitors. The board also rates very highly in terms of features and layout, offering CrossFireX and 3way SLI support as well as allowing us to run all 1366 processors, DDR3-2200, USB 3.0 devices and SATA 6GB/s drives. Gigabyte also add some extra user friendly touches such as on-board power button, debug LED and back panel Clear CMOS. It is also great to see that Q-Flash continues to be included, ensuring we can update the BIOS quickly and easily from a USB drive.
There is an argument which says that buying AMD gives consumers similar features but with a better value/performance ratio... that is true to an extent but this is also a case of the consumer getting what they pay for. The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition and X58A-UD7 do come with high price tags but they offer the performance and features to back this up. There is no desktop configuration which offers greater flexibility, stability and speed available today.
Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition "Gulftown"
Available from OCUK
Available from NewEgg