At $999, the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X (with automatic overclocking to 3.6GHz) is Intel's flagship offering in consumer processors. It's the first desktop-grade CPU with six physical cores, but hy­­perthreading yields 12 virtualised ones. The six cores share 12MB of integrated L3 cache. The end result is a measurable performance boost for optimised applications, and a score of 147 on our WorldBench 6 tests.

A 32-nanometer design, the 980X is fully compatible with existing X58-chipset motherboards running an LGA 1366 socket. X58-based motherboards use Intel's quickpath interconnect (QPI) architecture. QPI replaces the front­side bus de­­sign of the now antiquated Core 2 chips, for faster (and greater) bandwidth for routing communications between the motherboard, system components, and the CPU.

Intel splits its mainstream desktop and mobile CPU offerings into three sections: The Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 lines, representing, respectively, high-end, midrange, and entry-level products. That doesn't always mean that a Core i5 chip will be slower than a Core i7, however, as you'll see later. Nor does a Core i7 always have four physical cores. Intel's mobile i7 line defaults to two cores unless the chip has a QM or XM extension.

OUR VERDICT

The six cores share 12MB of integrated L3 cache. The end result is a measurable performance boost for optimised applications, and a score of 147 on our WorldBench 6 tests.