Intel Sandy Bridge-E Debuts: Core i7-3960X Reviewed

By Julio Franco · 46 replies
Nov 14, 2011
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  1. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Thanks for the quick review. All pretty much as expected.
  2. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    Nothing special as mentioned by the chief. I think this time around the case for an upgrade to 'enthusiast platform i.e. LGA 2011' is much less compelling unless well someone is planning to use some heavily multi-threaded applications most of the time + have more money then they can keep in bank, it is just my opinion nothing more ..... :rolleyes:
  3. okrings

    okrings TS Rookie Posts: 19

    I'm real happy see that my i7-2600K still rocks the gaming charts. I always upgrade to the latest hots, but this time I have NO intention of filling Intel's pockets with my gold. I only care about the gaming performance, so I see no need to upgrade to a X79 system. Phew!
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    The same argument that highlighted the positives in Bulldozers launch apply here also.
    If your main focus is content creation and productivity and you're in a time-is-money situation then the platform would stand you in good stead- it does more in most scenario's and never really does anything worse than the previous performance kings (2600K and 990X). I would definitely consider the 3930K for a less expensive (I'd be loath to use the word cheap) alternative (Xbit review of both SKU's)

    The 3960X is going to be mainly aimed at benchmarking pr0n I suspect. Seeing some benchmarks with an SR-3 and 16 cores/32 threads of Xeon E5 should be a hoot.

    Steve's overclock result is a little disappointing -although I would possibly attribute that to a limited time to familiarize with the board, since quite a few reviews are seeing up to 4.8G.

    R3DP3NGUIN TS Booster Posts: 152   +10

    +1 for the review, as usual these high-end * pricey* Intel chips are the best for the Design/editing crowds. I think you would be rather stupid to get a 3960X purely for gaming. Unless of-course you have money to burn.
  6. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I still have no reason to upgrade from my i7 920, especially as this is yet another new platform.

    If I were to build a new system from scratch right now, I think the 2500K/2600K would still be the best choices, considering the poor performance/price ratio and also the big difference in power consumption of the new i7 3xxx chips
  7. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    Well Chef, do ya suppose this is a preview in the range of mainstream IB chips? (power consumption aside that is?)
  8. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,146   +911

    So my aim for a core i7 2600k for gaming is still the best choice? Awesome! don't need to change any of my plans then :)
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,719   +3,697

    I'm still happy with my i7-2600k. :)
  10. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I'm a little surprised to see it suffer when it came to gaming (Crysis 2 aside). I'd have thought it would have at least matched the i7 2600K, if not been a little ahead like most of the other benchmark results due to the higher cache and additional cores/threads.

    I've still got my sights on the i7 3930K though, but will wait for prices to settle a little first as its currently sitting on Scan and available for pre-order at £479.00. Once it's settled down a little I'll order it up with an Asus Sabertooth or the MSI X79A-GD65. Should be a nice increase in performance over my long overdue for replacement Q6600. :)
  11. dummybait

    dummybait TS Rookie Posts: 45

    Good review, though i would have liked to see performance with BF3...
  12. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    The comments about people needing to upgrade from a 2600k for gaming is comical, considering for gaming the Sandy Bridge CPU's don't offer ANY improvement from the X58 CPU's. Running games is easy, even a Phenom II X4 keeps up.

    These 6 core's are for multi-tasking, encoding, things like that.
  13. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,146   +911

    Your right except for the Phenom II thing, I had a quad Phenom II overclocked to 3.8Ghz and it had nothing on my mates i7 2600K. Litterally lose 10fps in games like crysis. Which is alot. Even in L4D2 when theres alot of action the frames dipped slightly compared to the i7.

    Although I agree completely that you DO NOT need to upgrade from a Sandy Bridge Core i7 to this if its for gaming purposes. I was actually shocked though to see the fps was lower using these newbies.
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    ...A 2600K +/- a frame
    A x4 980 */- a frame
    A A8 3850 +/- a frame
  15. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 367   +46

    "The Excel, Photoshop and encoding gains over the Core i7-2600K were impressive, in the order of 20% or faster."

    Yet it costs 300% more than an i7-2600K. Who are they targeting with this kind of processor? (serious question)
  16. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    Professionals with that kind of workload and bench box boys. (serious answer) :)
  17. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Unless I'm blind I don't see a single reply above that states people are?

    In fact, everyone has stated they're quite happy with the performance of them.

    Can we have a third category that I can fit into. ;)
  18. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    For me, I'm hoping my 2600K is the new Q6600. Hoping to run it for as long as possible :)
  19. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I'm still running mine now, and while all the best stuff now would eat it alive, it still seems quite content running away in my setup. I'd definitely benefit from upgrading it but its a good workhorse and its always got me out of trouble when main systems have died for various reasons.
  20. Wow, I've had the 2600k for almost a year now and it still making every other option look silly.
    Best value processor I've ever seen.

    Save the $700, buy a 2600k and put it towards a blazing SSD, you'll see much more bang for your buck.
  21. I stopped reading at $990 so I don't know/care how powerful is this.
  22. dedparrot

    dedparrot TS Rookie Posts: 67

    wondering how many more years my i7 920 will last before it starts feeling dated. this is for gaming i mean.
  23. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I'd expect IB to be somewhere in between SB and SB-E. Probably faster in gaming assuming IB gets a slight speed increase over 2700K, would still be slower than SB-E in productivity/content creation apps. There's no substitute for cores in the latter.

    Ivy Bridge-E is likely a drop in replacement for SB-E on the X79 platform so that you should see the same performance delta with IB/IB-E as we are now seeing with SB/SB-E

    Larger cache won't impact on many games at "standard" resolutions/single GPU. SB's smaller L3 isn't being fully utilised as it is, so you could in effect say that with most games not fully utilising 4C/8T (at 100% usage) the 3960X and 3930K are at a disadvantage to the 2600K/2700K as they run slightly slower (3.3/3.2G and 3.8/3.9G w/turbo versus 3.4G and 3.8G w/turbo for 2600K). Sandy Bridge 4-core also seems slightly better favoured in memory performance.
    I would also factor in the fact that SB-E is likely throttling under load. Most reviews used the Intel branded Asetek all-in-one watercooler or a fairly standard air cooler, and this is a BIG CPU pushing a lot of wattage in comparison with the 2600K.

    I would doubt that anyone would look at X79 primarily for gaming, and unless they were going multi-monitor, tri/quad-gpu, custom watercooling and SSD's in RAID 0 you aren't going to see anything significant over SB...they are after all exactly the same CPU, albeit that one has twice the number of cores and a little more than double the L3. For any significant increase over the 2600K you would have to find a situation where the gaming scenario saturated the ability of the SB CPU and the P67/Z68 chipset- and the only likelyhood of that would be saturating the PCI-E bus using quad-CrossfireX or tri-SLI (P67/Z68/X79) / quad-SLI (X79)
  24. Zecias

    Zecias TS Booster Posts: 202

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but i thought the i5 2500k had the best value. Little to no performance decreases at $100 less.

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