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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.

Workstation: Autodesk 3ds Max & Maya

If there’s design work that needs to be done, then Autodesk is sure to have the right tool. From 3D modeling to architectural design, Autodesk’s selection of highly-regarded tools is almost mind-numbing, and because both its 3ds Max and Maya applications have long been considered to be some of the best in their respective class, we opt to use them for our benchmarking here.

For the sake of all-around testing, we perform most of our benchmarking on this page with the help of SPEC’s SPECapc 3ds Max 2011 and SPECapc Maya 2012, although we also render an in-depth model/scene in the former. We’ll explain each benchmark as we go along.

SPECapc 3ds Max 2011

We kick off our testing with one of the most comprehensive benchmarks in our test suite: SPECapc 3ds Max 2011. The overarching goal of those responsible for producing SPEC’s benchmarks is to deliver as well-rounded a test suite as possible for a respective field, such as 3D rendering and modeling, to produce accurate results that those responsible for purchasing hardware can take advantage of.

Designed to utilize both the CPU and GPU, SPECapc 3ds Max 2011 comes in both free and professional flavors, with the latter being the version we use. It’s composed of 58 individual tests and takes about 6 hours to complete on a machine equipped with 12GB of RAM and a six-core Intel Core i7-990X.

SPECapc 3ds Max 2011

Intel Core i7-4770K - Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 - SPECapc

On the CPU front, the i7-4960X outperformed the i7-3970X by 3% – the other results are just about similar. While the Haswell-based i7-4770K fell behind in the CPU test – as expected – it performed much better in the GPU and large model composite test, versus the 4960X.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 – “Naomi” Render

For our second 3ds Max 2011 test, we render a scene commissioned from Bulgarian artist Nikola Bechev, entitled “Naomi: The Black Pearl”. The woman is composed of over 7,000 polys with the entire scene totaling just over 106,000 vertices. Three light sources are used, with the entire scene being enhanced with HDR and ray tracing techniques, and subsurface scattering applied to certain objects. The scene is rendered at 1800×3600 as a production release, with HQ detail levels being used all-around.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 - Naomi Render

Intel Core i7-4770K - Autodesk 3ds Max 2011

3D rendering tests like these were just made for CPUs with lots of cores, and that’s proven here. The quad-core i7-4770K fell behind the i7-4960X, but it must be said that a 12% gap between the two makes the Haswell architecture look all the more impressive.

SPECapc Maya 2012

Like its 3ds Max 2011 variant, SPECapc Maya 2012 is designed to stress various aspects of the tool, such as rendering with standard and HQ methods, working in wireframe mode and so forth across numerous models and one overarching scene titled “Toy Store”.

Autodesk Maya 2010 with SPECapc Maya 2009

Intel Core i7-4770K - Autodesk Maya 2012 - SPECapc

Haswell’s IPC performance was highlighted in our last test, but it really shines here, outperforming a CPU with 50% additional cores. Despite Intel’s claim of improved GPU performance on IV-E, it seems that it doesn’t affect a test like this one – the i7-4770K simply dominates.


  • 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 ┼áimonek

    nice review with practice tests