Intel's Marketing Team Let Loose
Before getting on with the conclusion I would just like to point out that we couldn't include any overclocking tests or info on the new Turbo Boost Max 3.0 feature. The reason for this is simple: we don't have a motherboard that supports the new Turbo Boost feature and that same motherboard doesn't want to overclock the Core i7-6950X either.
Unfortunately, Intel didn't give us a proper heads up that Broadwell-E was coming, so we weren't able to arrange the necessary hardware in time. This is also why our review is a few days late. However as things stand, the 6950X isn't a particularly great overclocker based on others' findings. Quite a bit of extra voltage is required to hit a stable 4.3GHz. That's still a 43% boost over the base clock and will no doubt result in a good amount of extra performance.
Out of the box, the 6950X is 20 to 30% faster than the Core i7-5960X in applications that can use those extra cores. These kind of gains were seen in all of the application and encoding tests. Impressively, the 6950X gives this extra grunt while consuming less power, providing a strong advantage on all performance fronts.
Sadly, the chip's solid results are shattered by its horrible price. With an MSRP of $1,723, the Core i7-6950X is absurdly expensive, and while you could argue Intel can ask for outrageous prices because it has no competition, that isn't entirely true.
As we noted earlier, Intel's own Xeon range makes the 6950X a bit pointless at this price range. The 10-core Xeon E5-2640 v4 can be had for $939 and operates at a respectable 3.4GHz -- you could even buy two for a beastly 20-core/40-thread system. For the same ~$1,700 you could also buy the 14-core/28-threaded Xeon E5-2680 v4 which operates between 2.4GHz and 3.3GHz -- that's a 40% increase in cores and comes with ECC support.
Another option was seen with our budget-friendly dual-Xeon E5-2670 build. For just $700 we purchased a pair of 8-core E5-2670 processors along with a brand new dual-socket LGA2011 motherboard and 64GB of DDR3 memory. It was interesting to find that in many of the application and encoding tests this older Sandy Bridge-EP build was able to put up a real fight and in terms of performance vs. price, comes out well on top.
Given Intel's pricing scheme for these new processors, we expect Broadwell to be about as well received on the LGA2011 platform as it was on the 1150 platform, though naturally for different reasons.
Pros: Consistently 20-30% more application and encoding performance than the i7-5960X while using less power.
Cons: Ridiculously high pricing at over $1,700 -- essentially the same cost as the 14-core Xeon E5-2680 v4.