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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.

Mathematics: Sandra Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography & Financial

SiSoftware’s Sandra is a piece of software that needs no introduction. It’s been around as long as the Internet, and has long provided both diagnostic and benchmarking features to its users. The folks who develop Sandra take things very seriously, and are often the first ones to add support to the program long before consumers can even get their hands on the product.

As a synthetic tool, Sandra can give us the best possible look at the top-end performance from the hardware it can benchmark, which is the reason we use it to test much of our PC’s hardware. The fact that a free version exists so that you can also benchmark against our results is something we greatly appreciate.

The more threads a CPU has coupled with its frequency and architecture refinements, the faster it should be able to calculate complex math. We’re not talking about simple math that can be done on a calculator, but rather advanced calculation that is often used behind the scenes. Sandra’s Arithmetic test stresses the popular Dhrystone integer and Whetstone floating-point algorithms that have acted as a base for a countless number of benchmarks dating back as far back as the 70s.

SiSoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

Intel Core i7-4770K - Sandra Arithmetic

The six-cores are clear winners here, though it’s no surprise since Sandra tends to give us the “best case” performance from any CPU. Still, it’s good to see what these things are capable of when put to proper use.

Sandra Multi-Media

One of the best reasons for upgrading or building a new PC is to increase the performance for multi-media work, whether it be editing or encoding. As we saw earlier in our results, faster CPUs can save minutes or even hours of time. To test such capabilities here, Sandra renders the famous Mandelbrot set in a total of 255 iterations and in 32 colors.

This is a test that’s been around for close to forever, but it still scales extremely well with thread counts and can benefit from new media-centric instruction sets, including AVX.

Intel Core i7-4770K - Sandra Multimedia

The arithmetic test put the six-cores in a dominant lead, but multimedia changes things up a bit – neither scales quite as their +50% cores would suggest.

Sandra Cryptography

You might not be aware of it, but cryptography plays a major role in computing. With some algorithms proving more complex than the others, having a faster processor can dramatically improve performance – especially important on the server front. In Sandra’s benchmark, the mega-popular AES and SHA algorithms are computed, both with 256-bit key sizes.

Intel Core i7-4770K - Sandra Cryptography

With tests like these, you’d expect that adding in a couple of cores would put the six-core models far ahead of the quad-cores, but not so. But despite that, the six-cores still come out ahead overall. It might not be +50% performance, but it’s substantial gains nonetheless.

Financial Analysis

There’s little that can stress a CPU’s worth quite as much as number-crunching, and for that reason, we take full advantage of Sandra’s financial analysis benchmark. In the past, we ran similar tests using an Excel spreadsheet that allowed us to run a macro based on the Monte Carlo pricing, but here, Sandra allows us to also test Black-Scholes and Binomial.

Intel Core i7-4770K - Sandra Financial Analysis

The six-cores again reign supreme.


  • 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