|Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 13 November 2011|
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Intel Core i7-3960X Conclusion
Benchmark tests should always be taken with a grain of salt. It's difficult to try and isolate the performance difference a single component in a computer system makes, especially when it's necessary to compare across different manufacturers and platforms. Complicating the matter is the fact that benchmarks change, a manufacturer may change the technical details of a product, and the retail price may change as well. So please use this review as just one piece of information, and do your research before making a buying decision.
We've known Sandy Bridge Extreme has been coming for some months now, and we even knew pretty much what it would be: a six-core CPU based on the Sandy Bridge core architecture. Things like the gigantic 15M cache and expanded overclocking options are nice surprises, and at this point we can only wonder what Intel has in store for the forthcoming 22nm "Ivy Bridge" CPUs. Industry buzz has it that Ivy Bridge CPUs will drop right into existing Socket 1155 motherboards with only a BIOS upgrade needed, and the 22nm fabrication process may unlock even more performance.
Costing $1049.99 at Newegg, the top-end Sandy Bridge Extreme CPU is the most expensive consumer CPU (high end Xeon server processors can cost thousands of dollars each). Add the $300+ cost of an X79 motherboard to put it in, as well as a new cooler (remember that Intel doesn't package a cooler with this CPU) and probably some more memory, and the cost of upgrading your existing X58 system could easily run to $1500 or more. That's a lot of money, especially in this economy, but as I mentioned before, for some segments of the market, it's a no-brainer. Assume that 29% average performance increase over a 980X holds true in a production environment: suddenly, rendering work that took, say, four hours now takes less than three hours. That's a huge win.
This makes the value proposition hard to assess: even the most avid gamer's super rig won't generate noticeably more frames per second than it would with a Core i7-2600K, but for a professional graphics designer who spends hours rendering, it's cheap at twice the price.
But at the end of the day, regardless of how much sense this CPU might or might not make in your application, the Core i7-3960X firmly establishes Intel's dominance in performance computing at the consumer level. It's simply an amazing product.
+ Staggering level of performance
Cons:- Very, very expensive
- Requires new X79-based motherboard, which is also expensive
- Few consumer level applications will take full advantage of its power
- No CPU cooler included
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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