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Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition Review
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Intel Core i7 Six-Core IHS
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by Rob Williams on September 25, 2013 in Intel Processors

Intel’s latest processor series has arrived, and we’re looking to find out if it becomes the company’s greatest. Compared to Intel’s latest mainstream part, Haswell, IV-E avails a quad-channel memory controller, a far more robust PCIe configuration, and the only place to get six-core parts. Are there other perks to be found? Let’s find out.

Test Systems & Benchmarking Methodologies

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

Test Systems

The tables below list all of the hardware we use in our current CPU-testing machines.

  Intel X79 Test Machine
Processor Intel Core i7-4960X (Six-core, 3.6GHz, 4.0GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7-3970X (Six-core, 3.5GHz, 4.0GHz Turbo)
Motherboard ASUS P9X79-E WS
Memory Kingston Beast 4x8GB DDR3-1333 9-9-9
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
Audio Onboard
Storage Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
Chassis Cooler Master Storm Trooper Full-Tower
Cooling Thermaltake WATER3.0 EXTREME Liquid Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  Intel Z87 Test Machine
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K (Four-core, 3.5GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo)
Motherboard ASUS Z87-EXPERT
Memory Kingston Beast 2x8GB DDR3-2133 11-12-11
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
Audio Onboard
Storage Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair HX850
Chassis Corsair Obsidian 700D Full-Tower
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Air Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  Intel Z77 Test Machine
Processor Intel Core i7-3770K (Four-core, 3.5GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo)
Motherboard GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH
Memory Kingston Beast 2x8GB DDR3-2133 11-12-11
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
Audio Onboard
Storage Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair HX850
Chassis Corsair Obsidian 700D Full-Tower
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Air Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

General Guidelines

  • BIOS or EFI is up-to-date with latest version (could include a beta).
  • CPU power options are left default in the motherboard’s BIOS or EFI.
  • No virus scanner or firewall is installed.
  • The OS is kept clean.
  • Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.

To aid in the goal of achieving accurate and repeatable results, we stop certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing inaccurate test results. For example, disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at random times utilize the hard drive and memory.

The most important services we disable are:

  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Error Reporting Service
  • Windows Event Log
  • Windows Firewall
  • Windows Search
  • Windows Update

To ease the tedium of setting up an OS for a round of benchmarking, we rely on Acronis True Image to restore an install that we previously setup. These images include most of our benchmarks, a minimal number of drivers (LAN, graphics), an up-to-date OS and all of our above-mentioned tweaks. We create a total of two OS images; one for AMD, and one for Intel.

Real-World & Synthetic Benchmarks

To help us deliver a well-rounded set of test results for each processor we evaluate, we use a variety of real-world applications and synthetic benchmarks.

Techgage Processor Test Suite Desktop

Our current test suite consists of:

Real-world

  • 7-zip
  • Autodesk 3ds Max 2011
  • Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 (SPECapc 3ds Max 2011)
  • Autodesk Maya 2012 (SPECapc Maya 2009)
  • Adobe Lightroom 4.4
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5
  • dBpoweramp R14
  • HandBrake 0.9.9
  • SPEC CPU2006

Synthetic

  • Cinebench R11.5
  • Euler3D
  • Futuremark PCMark 7
  • Futuremark PCMark 8
  • Futuremark 3DMark
  • POV-Ray 3.70
  • Sandra 2013 SP3a
  • Total War: SHOGUN 2

Most tests are run twice over with the results averaged. If there is an unnatural variance between the first two runs, then we continue to run the test until we receive a result we believe to be accurate.


  • BarackMcBush

    No in-depth overclocking on an extreme cpu? That is rather lazy and lacking.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      I might include overclocking reports in time, but it’s not my forte, so to include it at all would be doing a disservice to the CPU.

      • Hubert J Farnsworth

        I use to overclock once a long time ago. Most will until the have stability issues or meltdowns. Now i just by a better CPU.

  • Hubert J Farnsworth

    Great review. I think Intel is more worried about power consumption then in performance. Intel is screwing the power users just to get into phone and tablets.

  • Michal Šimonek

    nice review with practice tests

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