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Intel's Core i7-990X Extreme processor


The new flagship CPU reviews itself
— 1:06 PM on March 1, 2011

Friggin' Sandy Bridge, the golden child. My Westmere brothers and I are the biggest, baddest PC processors on the planet, and somehow, she still gets all the glory. Everybody is all, "Sandy this, Sandy that," even though she's slower than us. I say: if being second-rate and cheap were the keys to success in the world, everybody would be driving a Kia.

Well, look at the golden child now, hiding in inventory while her motherboards get replaced. Such a sad sight. People forget that "proven technology" isn't just a euphemism for old, unwanted junk. My ICH10R south bridge may be a little seasoned, but at least it didn't come out of the chute with a congenital defect. Plus, any little problems were ironed out several steppings ago.

They were originally going to introduce me last year, you know. I was ready long before the great Miss Bridge, but nooo, they didn't want me getting in the way. I'll tell you what, you can bet your fancy stock options they're happy to have me to fill the gap now. Sure, it's been a year since they rolled out my brother the 980X Extreme to great fanfare, and I'm only a 133MHz upgrade on his base and Turbo peak clock speeds, but that still makes me the fastest thing this side of the Larrabee cancellation.


I hate to brag, but with six cores at 3.46GHz, a Turbo peak of 3.73GHz, 12MB of L3 cache, and three channels of DDR3 memory, I'm kind of a big deal. Add in the fact that my upper multipliers are unlocked so that I can be overclocked, and you can see why my asking price is one dollar short of a grand. If you still don't get it, just know that the valedictorian at your high school would probably have a nerdgasm over me. That's the sort of response I tend to provoke among dudes who know what I am. And ladies, of course. Both of them are pretty excited, too.

Check out my "990X" tat in that picture up there. Just got that last week before going out for review. Pretty sweet, eh? I had 'em make the "X" extra large to remind people how extreme I am. I think it works pretty well. I might get a sleeve around the edges of my cap next, if I can find the right design. That's a big commitment, though, and I want it to be right, so I'm taking my time.

My new digs


One of the benefits of being the sweetest piece of silicon known to man is that you get to hang pretty exclusively with with your peers in other fields. I'm in no danger of getting stuffed into a crappy HP enclosure with integrated graphics and half as much RAM as you're gonna need to keep Windows from paging constantly. Instead, I drop into slick setups like the one above, with that near-silent Thermaltake Jing cooler and a motherboard with more ports than Oakland.

That board is brand-new, too, by the way. Intel is officially calling it the DX58SO2, but its real name is "Smackover 2"—that's, heh, a back-handed reference to my utter domination of the competition. Nobody tell the FTC; those blowhards have zero sense of humor.

My X58 chipset already has way more PCIe lanes than Sandy Bridge, but if you must have the very latest in I/O standards, this board has two SATA 6Gbps ports and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. That's probably enough for you geeks. Between you and me, I told them they should give it more ports of both types, but they didn't want me showing up Miss Golden Child. Sheesh. As if Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte won't hang three controller chips and 14 ports off of each of us. At least I have the PCIe lanes to handle it.


Here's a shot of the PCIe ports, just to remind you that, although I'm a top-of-the-line model, I'm not too classy to engage in a three-way—SLI or CrossFire setup, that is, you perv.

That's all good, but I do have a beef with something. Check out those plus and minus buttons right there on the motherboard. Get this: those are for raising and lowering my base clock in 1MHz increments. I said before I have an unlocked multiplier, but apparently that's not good enough. We have to put buttons right on the board where any idiot can press them, and let me tell you: I am happy to overclock via the multiplier. I was made to do so. But raising my dang base clock hurts. Makes my PCIe lanes go all tingly and numb, and my memory controller gets a throbbing headache. Besides, who sticks his finger into a running PC, except for one of those sadistic freaks with the liquid nitrogen? Don't get me started on them.

My understanding of what comes next is that I'm supposed to give you a little tour of my performance and such. I've had this jackwagon running all kinds of silly tests on me for the past couple of days, and now we're going to look at the results. I'm not sure what good it will do to show you page after page of me kicking the tail of every other PC processor on the market, but I guess there might be a few folks out there who don't know the score yet. I'm not one to deny them the chance to soak in my glory, so let's get on with it.