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Can the Intel Core i7 2600k @ 5.1ghz slay its 980x Goliath?

Overclocking Intel’s latest Sandybridge processors properly requires a completely fresh approach. A re-thinking of everything you have come to know and understand.

Just the voltages alone are enough to make even the most experienced overclocker stop dead in their tracks and check everything twice before continuing. In almost every situation, when it comes to electronics, too much electricity manifests itself as an increase in operating temperature. Zapping 1.6 volts through previous Intel processors could have resulted in an immediate trip to your local store to replace the chip. With Intel’s Core i5 2600k, it barely went above 80 degrees in our most severe testing. Taking no chances, KitGuru went with the huge Austrian sandwich that is the Noctua NH D14, but even a cooler costing half as much is likely to yield some pretty stunning results.

For continuous use, we would recommend 4.8Ghz with 1.47v – that set up is easy to achieve and unlikely (but not impossible!) to create a problem. Naturally, whenever you touch the clocks/voltages on a system, you have kissed your warranty goodbye and that’s no one’s fault by your own – so be warned!

When all is said and done, this overclocking article had a very simple question in mind when it was started…
Can Intel’s 2600k beat the awesome Core i7 980 Extreme Edition?

Compared to the fastest desktop processor in the world, at stock speed, the 2600k is almost 30% behind. Using KitGuru’s building skills, we cranked the voltage to 1.6, rolled the clocks up to a steady 5.1Ghz and watched it breeze past the Extreme Edition by more than 10%.

This is a simply stunning result and we’ll say it again, in the simplest terms possible, “At just £250, the overclocked 2600k processor can out-render the £800 i7 980 Extreme Edition at 3.33GHz, straight from the box”.

If the Core i7 980 Extreme Edition makes the mistake of running at stock speed when taking on the 2600k processor, then it’s in for a serious surprise.  KitGuru’s overclocked 2600k happily takes the Core i7 980x outside for a swift beating, not only in hardcore rendering tasks like Cinebench 11.5, but also in the SiSoft Sandra tests – including the Arithmetic, Multimedia and Cryptography sections. In doing so, it barely goes above 80 degrees. Amazing.

KitGuru says: Intel’s latest architecture stands alone. Price, performance and all round flexibility mean that the second generation Core processors are going to be every enthusiast’s first choice for a long time to come. The bar has been raised, the challenge made and its now down to the competition to think hard and see if any kind of intelligent response can be found.

Final ‘horror thought’?  What is the Extreme Edition version of the second generation Core processor going to look like?


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Rating: 9.5.

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