Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Review

by Rob Williams on November 28, 2011 in Processors

To those looking to build the biggest, baddest high-end PC around, the wait for Sandy Bridge-E was no doubt painful. But, it’s finally here, and much to our expectations, Intel has once again solidified its position as the performance leader. So let’s take a look at what it offers, and compare it to the i7-990X, i7-2600K and AMD FX-8150.

System: Sandra 2011 Memory & Core Efficiency

The faster the processor, the better its bandwidth and latencies are. Where memory is concerned, however, there are many more factors at play. While frequency plays a major role in overall memory performance, the memory controller can make an even greater improvement, based on its implementation and also its capabilities.

With Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E, we were given a quad-channel controller, while triple-channel remains exclusive to Intel’s X58 platform. Controllers for all other architectures are dual-channel in design. Generally speaking, a quad-channel controller could in theory provide twice as much bandwidth as a dual-channel one. How the controller is integrated into its chip along with the memory’s frequency determines the latency.

While faster memory bandwidth and lower latencies can improve overall computer performance, the faster each core can work with one another along with how much bandwidth a cache can handle rounds out the most important factors of PC performance. The results of all of these are tackled on this page.

SiSoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

Intel DX79SI (Siler) X79 Motherboard

Intel DX79SI (Siler) X79 Motherboard

Intel DX79SI (Siler) X79 Motherboard

Intel DX79SI (Siler) X79 Motherboard

Intel’s marketing for Sandy Bridge-E should include a quip such as “All your bandwidth are belong to SNB-E”, because it couldn’t be more true. Compared to our other tested architectures, Intel’s quad-channel controller delivered results almost double anything else. If you are running memory-heavy applications that particularly improve with increased bandwidth, there’s absolutely no comparison to this platform.

Thanks in part to the fact that we were forced to run a CAS latency of 9 on our modules when using the X79 platform, latency performance obviously took a hit. When we re-benchmark this platform, we’ll be sure to use 4GB modules capable of CL8. In all of the other tests, we see the scaling we’d hope for, with AMD once again leaving a bad taste in our mouth.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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