Intel Core i7 980X review

The world's fastest PC processor. Shame about the planet-sized price tag

Intel Core i7 980X
The Intel Core i7 980X: meet the fastest PC processor on the planet

Among the super rich of this world, there's a level of wealth colloquially known as screw-you money. Put simply, if you've got enough dosh, you can say "screw you" without consequences to anyone, any time. For people like that, it's results that matter, not cost. For people like that, Intel has a very special PC processor. It's the Core i7 980X.

As our benchmark results show, it's without exception the fastest PC processor on the planet. So, it's much quicker in our multi-threaded tests than AMD's best six-core effort, the Phenom II X6 1090T BE.

It's also an absolute monster in benchmarks that traditionally favour chips with fewer cores but higher clocks, such as gaming and file decompression. For that you can thank the 980X's 3.33GHz operating frequency. In performance terms, there really are no downsides with this six-core beast.

Indeed, you might expect a chip with over a billion transistors to run hot and not take kindly to overclocking. If so, you'd be forgetting that the Core i7 980X is based on Intel's fancy new 32n production process. It's actually smaller than Intel's quad-core processors. What's more, it hits an astonishing 4.3GHz when overclocked.

So, that's the most cores, the highest thread count, the most advanced microarchitecture and the highest clockspeed. No wonder the Core i7 980X is a prince among processors. It's just a shame it has a princely price tag to match. We also worry about the 980X's LGA1,366 CPU socket. Intel plans to drop it next year, putting a definite limit on any upgrade path.

We liked:

Can a CPU be considered aspirational? If so, the Intel Core i7 980X is it. It's a smorgasbord of cutting edge technology and clearly the fastest and finest CPU you can buy. It's all of Intel's know how in a multi-threaded masterpiece. We want one. And we want it badly.

We disliked:

Placing a premium on performance is all very well. But charging nigh on £800 for a PC processor is plain bonkers. It's sad, because it renders the Core i7 980X effectively irrelevant. Virtually nobody can afford it. Given Intel's track record in regards ongoing socket support, the LGA1,366 form factor is a worry, too.


The fastest PC processor we've ever tested. But so expensive, nobody can afford it.

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