Intel Core i7-3960X - Sandy Bridge E Processor Review

Intel debuts its $1000+ Extreme Edition 3960X processor parroting how great it is for the gamer and enthusiast. With 6 cores and 12 threads, a new motherboard and chipset platform, and quad channel DDR3, Intel has done the impossible, given us everything we don't want, and nothing we do want.


Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic benchmarks.....are.... well....synthetic and do not get your work done for you. These don't necessarily mean anything when it comes to desktop performance in real life, but certainly there is value to be gleaned from these by enthusiasts. These are also the easiest benchmarks to run when it comes to seeing if your system at home is measuring up.

Stock processor clocks used with 1333MHz memory clocks except for the stock 1600MHz memory bus of the 3960X. Overclocked processors use 1600MHz memory clocks. Our exception is the overclocked i7-920 which uses 20*200 CPU clock and 1680MHz memory clock.

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If there is a huge awesomeness in the hardware enthusiast galaxy when it comes to Sandy Bridge E, this is it! Memory bandwidth is simply stunning. With its quad-channel DDR3 rolling along like you might expect, it pulls off memory bandwidth numbers like we have never seen on the desktop before. The Sandy Bridge E memory controller is a work of art. Even without its fourth channel it would trounce anything else with the slight exception of the aging i7-920. Now how you would exactly use all this bandwidth in normal desktop operations is beyond me, but it surely will become and e-peen synthetic benchmark to be held out in front of you.

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Looking at CPU Dhrystone instructions, the Sandy Bride E is a behemoth in this category as well, but the simple fact of the matter is that we have two extra Sandy Bridge cores doing the extra work we see that makes this score all that more impressive.

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Hiper Pi is a horse of a different color because we are again looking at a single threaded application. And as we saw before in the IPC section, the 3960X is shaken somewhat by the close scores of the 2600K and 2500K but here we see the 3960 benefited by the extra memory bandwidth of moving from 1333MHz to 1600MHz.

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wPrime is run here using all cores available. As you might expect, the new 3960X simply crushes all comers with its extra cores and benefits from HyperThreading. Remember our 2500K is sans HyperThreading and that impacts it harshly in this comparison.