|Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 13 November 2011|
Page 16 of 17
Sandy Bridge Extreme Final Thoughts
I think this is the first time I've tested a new processor that so decisively dominated the benchmarks. There's no doubt about it: the Core i7-3960X Extreme processor is a benchmark-smashing beast of a CPU, leveraging Intel's brilliant Sandy Bridge core architecture and sweetened with more cache and even more cores. Intel's "Extreme" series CPUs have always represented the best the company can produce, and it's instructive to look at the stock-clocked performance of this new CPU as compared to its Extreme series predecessor, the Core i7-980X. As with the overclocking chart in the previous section, the scores below show the base score normalized to 1.0, with the comparison score expressed in terms of this.
With a solid 29% average score improvement over the 980X on this mix of benchmarks, the 3960X represents one of, if not the most, significant performance leaps over a previous-generation CPU I've ever seen. There's just so much performance available that even the most avid enthusiast will have to ask themselves if they have any realistic use for it. Intel is, wisely, aiming at multimedia and content creators as the principal audience for this chip, since these are the classes of applications that can best use all the threads this CPU can handle. If you work with applications that can keep the 3960X's capacious maw full of data, you'll see amazing performance that will easily justify the cost of a new system in increased productivity.
There are other advantages inherent in the platform: many X79 motherboards have 8 DIMM sockets, which means that you can install up to 64 GB of RAM in your desktop system. For some applications, this will be a tremendous advantage, as will the 48 PCI-E lanes.
For most of us, though, the Core i7-3960X makes as much sense as a 1,000 horsepower street car. It's fun at the dragstrip (running benchmarks), but a Core i7-2700K on a nice Z68 motherboard will be a fraction of the price and just as fast in "real world" terms.