Not Yet Another Core i7 980X Review - Overclocking With LN2

CPU by massman @ 2010-03-16

Instead of following the flock of hardware reviewing websites and using a series of at least one hundred benchmarks to come the exact same conclusion, we decided to put Intel´s latest, codenamed Gulftown, to a series of extreme tests. Inside, you will find pictures, benchmark results and info on an extremely overclocked Gulftown B1.

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Quick word about X58A-UD7


A few weeks ago we received Gigabyte's most high-end X58-based mainboard, the X58A-UD7. This board offers the features that come with the 333 technology, tested here before at Madshrimps. What is interesting about this board is that Gigabyte has implemented all the tweaks and tricks they've learned in the past year of Bloomfield overclocking on X58. This means that, for instance, voltage modifications have been implemented in the PCB directly. To give a more concrete example: the voltage modification necessary to improve the stability of the PCIe lane during QPI overclocking (or: high BCLK frequency) used to be an end-user modification, but in this UD7 it's an option in the bios! In theory, this means that we'll be able to push far beyond 222MHz BCLK, which certainly comes in handy when testing locked-multiplier processors.

Before we gave this board a spin using the new 980X Gulftown, we had a quick run testing the Core i7 950 and the Core i7 960, two of Intel's latest Bloomfield products. In addition, both have locked multipliers, so the theoretical 222MHz+ will certainly come in handy.

Intel Core i7 950 Results

Single Stage: -25°C

  • 3DMark03 at 210x23 = 4807MHz (HT on): 105895
  • 3DMark05 at 210x23 = 4807MHz (HT on): 36934
  • 3DMark Vantage at 210x23 = 4807MHz (HT on): P25842
  • PCMark05 at 219x23 = 5037MHz (HT off): 28415

    On air cooling, I was only able to reach 220MHz BCLK, even with elevated PCIe frequency and IOH/VTT voltage levels. From the moment the temperatures went below zero, it was fairly easy to increase the BCLK frequency to 235MHz stable. This particular Core i7 950 sample proved to be quite a decent clocker even on phase-change hitting 4.8Ghz stable with all cores enabled.

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

    Liquid Nitrogen: -100°C

  • 3DMark05 at 228x23 = 5244MHz (HT on): 42643
  • 3DMark06 at 228x23 = 5244MHz (HT on): 30785
  • Aquamark3 at 230x23 = 5290MHz (HT on): 372540
  • Wprime 32M at 235x23 = 5407MHz (HT on): 4.405 seconds
  • Wprime 1024M at 234x23 = 5370MHz (HT on): 2 minutes 20.421 seconds

    On liquid nitrogen we noticed the same BCLK was at around 238MHz, making 235MHz fully stable. This processor was, all in all, quite a good sample reaching almost 5.4GHz Wprime stable. Due to the coldbug problem and the BCLK limitation, this sample reached its end quite early as we suspect that without a coldbug and higher BCLK capabilities this silicon would've lead to much higher clocks.

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

    Intel Core i7 960 Results

    Single Stage: -25°C

  • SuperPI 32M at 240x19 = 4560MHz (HT off)
  • SuperPI 32M at 235x21 = 4935MHz (HT off)

    This Core i7 960 has been tested under phase-change rather quickly as I only wanted to know how the overclockability was in comparison to the Core i7 950 I tested before. In the end, it seemed that the chip is roughly 60MHz worse than the Core i7 950, but thanks to the 25x turbo multiplier it might be a bit better for Wprime liquid nitrogen damage coming next week. Do note that we were able to get 240MHz BCLK stable at only -25°C, which is quite a good result!

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

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