Today we're going to have a bit of benchmark fun when we test a processor that we tested in 2010. We recently got our hands on a Core i7-980X processor. This is a 32 nm part of "Gulftown". While we extensively tested Bloomfield's 45nm CPUs and were big fans of the Core i7-920, we never paid much attention to Gulftown after launch.
Although Bloomfield and Gulftown processors share the same LGA1366 socket, the 32 nm parts are special in that they contain six cores. In fact, the Core i7-980X was Intel's first hexa-core desktop CPU. If you imagine that it is expensive, you are right. This sucker came to $ 1,000 in early 2010.
The six cores operate at a fundamental frequency of 3.3 GHz and are raised to 3.6 GHz depending on the workload. Although designed to work with DDR3-1066 memory, it was possible to work at much higher speeds. Since the LGA1366 socket was part of the Intel high-end desktop platform at that time, support for three-channel memories was given in favor of the more offered standard two-channel memory.
In short, the Core i7-980X was a beast, the best desktop CPU you could buy for money. But how does it stack up 8 years later? To find out, I'm going to compare it to a whole bunch of modern processors, including the nasty little Ryzen 3 2200G for $ 100.
Note: This function was originally published on 07/26/2008. We made minor revisions and encountered them as part of our # ThrowbackThursday initiative.
Now I don't expect the 2200G to hit a 6 core / 12 thread core i7 processor at no less than 3.3 GHz. After all, the 2200G is a 4-core / 4-thread CPU that runs at a base frequency of only 3.5 GHz, has a small 4 MB L3 cache and packs a maximum TDP of 65 watts. Oh yes, did I mention that the 980X is a 130 watt CPU?
Still, I'm excited to see how the 2010 flagship desktop CPU behaves compared to the cheapest Ryzen of 2018. The Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs of the 1st and 2nd generation as well as some Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake CPUs are also included in the mix.
The Core i7-980X was tested in its standard equipment and in an overclocked configuration with 4.4 GHz. For the memory, I have six 2 GB DDR3-1600 memory sticks and that's the best I have for this test. Let us see how the first 6-core desktop CPU from Intel develops in 2018.
First, we have the SiSoftware memory bandwidth benchmark, and here you can clearly see the advantage of high-speed DDR4 memory. The Ryzen 3 2200G has almost 50% more memory bandwidth compared to the Core i7-980X's three-channel DDR3-1600 configuration. With only 23 GB / s memory bandwidth, the 980X is severely limited in memory-intensive workloads.
Cinebench R15 is not particularly memory sensitive and therefore the 6-core / 12-thread 980X is quite good here. Nevertheless, the single-core performance is rather weak and shocking, even at 4.4 GHz it is far below what the 2200G offers. In fact, the 980X's single thread performance was 8% slower than that of the 2200G and 17% slower once the APU was overclocked. Nevertheless, the 4-threads of the 2200G with multithread workloads cannot keep up with the old 12-thread CPU and are up to 37% slower as soon as both CPUs are overclocked.
Compared to a modern Ryzen processor with 6 cores and 12 threads like the 2600X, the 980X is 30% slower, compared to the inventory figures it is even 43% slower.
Next up is the V-Ray benchmark and here the 980X looks a lot slower than you might expect, especially given what we just saw while testing with Cinebench. The result is accurate, however, and the reason why the 980X is so slow here is the complete lack of AVX instructions. AVX was introduced a year later with the Sandy Bridge architecture, so the 980X will lag significantly behind on workloads that use AVX instructions.
V-Ray is a perfect example of this because the 980X can only keep up with the 2200G, a CPU with a third of the threads offered by the Core i7 processor. The 980X is overclocked and can outperform the 2200G. However, we are talking about a 7% reduction in rendering time, which is likely to mean double the power consumption, and we will soon look at power consumption.
First, let's move on to video editing performance with PCMark 10. Here the Ryzen 3-APU can beat the Core i7-980X, both in stock and overclocked. In stock, the AMD CPU was 7% faster, and although this latitude diminishes as soon as both CPUs are overclocked, the brave little quad-core was still 3% faster.
The PCMark 10 game physics test uses core-heavy processors and does not use an instruction set that is missing from the older Core i7 model. As a result, the 980X can keep up with the Core i5-8400 instantly, beating the 8400, 8600K, and 7700K after overclocking, which means it's still slower than the Ryzen 5 1600 and much slower than the newer Ryzen 5 2600 models.
Next we have the 7-Zip file extraction test and here the Core i7-980X does very well and compared to the more modern 6-core / 12-thread processors like the Ryzen 5 1600 it was only 11% slower. That said, overclocked was able to match one Ryzen 5 2600 stock, so not a bad result, of course the Ryzen CPUs can also be overclocked, but still not a bad result.
The corona performance is also very respectable and the 4-threaded Ryzen 3 2200G is completely overwhelmed here.
Blender is another application that uses AVX instructions. As with V-Ray, the Core i7-980X suffers from the lack of AVX support. As a result, it reduces to quad-core-like performance as it corresponds to the Ryzen 3 2200G. Overclocking helped, but still it was far below where you could expect a 12-thread CPU to run at well over 4 GHz.
Handbrake also runs AVX code, and we find again that the 980X can only deliver quad-core-like performance, which makes it significantly slower than a modern 6-core / 12-thread CPU.
Now for some gaming benchmarks and we see that despite triple threads and a remarkable clock speed advantage, the 980X is not exactly worlds faster than the Ryzen 3 2200G. Sure, it was 25% faster overclocking and that's a remarkable margin, but frankly we expected more in a serious core game.
That said, the 980X performs even better in Battlefield 1 and outperforms the 2200G by an impressive 36% as soon as both CPUs are overclocked. In fact, the 980X isn't overclocked much slower than the Ryzen 5 1600, though it's an R5 1600, but still not a bad result.
However, most games aren't as difficult as Battlefield 1 and Ashes of the Singularity, and we see a good example of that when we test with Far Cry 5. Here the 2200G was 8% faster than the 980X when you compare the storage performance of both CPUs. By overclocking, the 980X is again at the front, but still slower than a standard R5 1600.
The last one is Vermintide 2 and this title scales quite well on heavy core CPUs. As a result, the 980X was 25% faster than the 2200G when comparing overclocked results. It was also 18% slower than a GPU-limited Ryzen 5 2600.
Okay, time for some information on total system consumption. Please note that these numbers also include the GTX 1080 Ti. Here we see the Ryzen 3 2200G system draw up to 315 watts from the wall, while the standard 980X increases consumption by 55% to 489 watts. Again, think of the total system consumption that makes the 50% increase even more shocking. After overclocking, the 980X system consumed 64% more power than the overclocked 2200G.
These are the scary numbers, full CPU usage with low GPU usage. Now the standard 980X system uses 93% more power than the 2200G and 133% more when overclocked. Back to inventory: The 980X consumed 30% more power than the 2600X. Therefore, it is not surprising that the 8 year old CPU is not very efficient by today's standards.
Well, there you have it, the Core i7-980X compared to a number of modern CPUs in 2018, which was a bit of fun. Without the lack of AVX support, the 980X would have looked a lot more impressive in our application benchmarks. But when it came to gaming, the results weren't bad, especially with this 4.4 GHz overclock.
Of course, the power consumption is cruel, but that's to be expected if you look at a 6-core CPU from 2010 with a 32 nm process (!).
Excluding the AVX workloads, the 980X was 37% faster than the 2200G in the Cinebench R15 multithread test when the performance was compared immediately. However, it contains 50% more cores and offers three times as many threads with hyper-threading support. So a 37% increase in multithreaded score isn't that impressive, and that's because single-thread performance has dropped by 26%.
The Core i7-980X isn't nearly as good as a modern 6-core / 12-thread processor, and even the first-generation Ryzen 5 1600 had its way with Intel's first 6-core desktop CPU. The R5 1600 was 19% faster in the Cinebench R15 multithread test and 25% faster in games like Ashes of the Singularity.
Although this test was mainly about getting perspective and having fun – it is certainly not intended as a buying guide – the 980X 2010 made little sense and certainly makes no sense in 2018, especially given the price, which is around $ 200 seems to lie.
Still, there is a certain group of PC users who will quickly point out that you can get a Xeon equivalent for much less, and that's right, the Xeon X5675, for example, can be bought regularly for around $ 80, less than half the price 980X. These are essentially the same 6-core / 12-thread CPUs, they even work on the same X58 motherboards and can be overclocked to similar frequencies. Some of the better chips even run at 4.5 GHz.
The problem I have with these CPUs is not necessarily the CPUs themselves, as we have seen that overall performance is not bad despite some fairly terrible performance data, provided you are not running software that uses AVX. The big problem is the motherboards. Getting just one can be difficult enough, but it's almost impossible to get one at a reasonable price.
Assuming you don't want to spend every waking hour looking for a bargain, though even then there are few, you will have to spend around $ 100 to $ 150 for an X58 motherboard and the better examples of the boards actually want to use are much closer to the $ 150 mark. Realistically, you see around $ 230 for a Xeon X5675 and X58 motherboard combination. You'll also need some DDR3 memory, but that's a lot cheaper than DDR4 right now. This is probably the biggest win for this combination. 12 GB seems to be about $ 70, about the same as 8 GB DDR4.
So let's say $ 300 for the Xeon build with 12 GB DDR3. Alternatively, you can buy the Ryzen 5 2600 for $ 150, a B350 board for $ 70, and 8 GB DDR4 for around $ 70, for a total of ~ $ 300.
Without overclocking, the Ryzen 5 2600 smokes an overclocked X5675. Personally, I no longer understand the love affair some people have with these old Xeon CPUs, they were great before Ryzen, but if you can't get the CPU, motherboard, and memory combination for well under $ 200, it's your money just not worth it anymore.