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Closer Look: Core i7-2600K and Core i7-990X Extreme Edition

Well, Core i7-2600K is the top CPU of the existing LGA1155 solutions. There are three features that distinguish it from the other processors on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. First, it has four computational cores and supports Hyper-Threading technology. As a result, the operating system sees it as an eight-core processor, which is exactly why it belongs to the top ranks in the Core i7 family. Secondly, it has the highest clock frequency of all LGA1155 processors – 3.4 GHz. I have to say that if we leave the Core i7-990X Extreme Edition aside for a second, it will be the maximum clock frequency of all Intel desktop CPUs period. And thirdly, its L3 cache is 8 MB big. Other quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs from the Core i5 series has a 6 MB L3 cache.

I have to say that although Core i7-2600K processors boast significantly more advanced features than the rest of the LGA1155 CPUs, they do not run any hotter than the others. Just like the top Core i5, our today’s hero stays within the same 95 W thermal envelope as its younger brothers. In other words, even before we get to the tests we can conclude that Core i7-2600K will turn out better than any LGA1366 processor at least in power consumption.

Also it is important to remember that we are going to discuss a K-series processor in our today’s article. It means that it can be overclocked by simply changing its frequency multiplier, and in this respect it can be put in the same category as Core i7-990X Extreme Edition. Note that Intel also has a regular Core i7-2600 CPU. It costs a little less but it only allows increasing its clock frequency multiplier by four points above the nominal value. And keeping in mind that LGA1155 platform doesn’t allow overclocking by raising the clock generator frequency, K-series processor is not only the more convenient, but in fact the only acceptable choice for overclocking fans.

As for Core i7-990X Extreme Edition, Intel considers it to be the today’s best desktop processor. True: it not only works at the highest frequency of all Intel processors (3.46 GHz), but also has six cores and at the same time supports Hyper-Threading technology. Besides, this CPU boasts a large 12 MB L3 cache. Overall, if you forget about the use of the older Gulftown design for a minute, then Core i7-990X Extreme Edition is a top of the line high-performance processor, no doubt.

At the same time, we can’t call Core i7-990X Extreme Edition an innovative solution: it is simply the old Core i7-980X Extreme Edition CPU launched a year ago overclocked by additional 133 MHz.

Although Core i7-2600K and Core i7-990X Extreme Edition belong to different categories, let’s try and compare their features anyway:

Well, it may seem like a strange idea to compare Core i7-2600K and Core i7-990X Extreme Edition, since LGA1366 processor is superior to the competitor in almost every aspect, including the number of pins. But in reality, Core i7-2600K may get a hand from the following three things: improved microarchitecture providing higher relative performance, higher frequency potential during overclocking, and the fact that there are not so many applications out there that can really benefit from having more than four physical cores.

Core i7-990X Extreme Edition (left) and Core i7-2600K (right)

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