TechSpot: Intel Sandy Bridge-E, Core i7-3960X Review

With the Sandy Bridge processors hitting full stride, the recent release of AMD’s Bulldozer processors was not enough to slow sales. This was largely due to Bulldozer’s inability to compete well enough with the Core i5-2xxx series. Even worse than that, it's next to impossible to actually buy an AMD FX-8150 processor thanks to chip shortages. Meanwhile, Intel is preparing to strike back by bolstering their 2nd generation Core processors even further.

Today marks the arrival of Sandy Bridge-E and three new processors released initially, which include the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820. Powered by a new LGA2011 socket, these 32nm processors provide up to six cores with a dozen threads. Intel has also upgraded the integrated memory controller with four channels supporting DDR3-1600 memory, for a theoretical peak bandwidth of 51.2GB/s.

These processors will be explored in greater detail shortly, but for now it's worth mentioning they feature a total of 2.27 billion transistors in a die size of 20.8mm by 20.9mm, which are mind-boggling stats to say the least.

Read: Intel Sandy Bridge-E Debuts: Core i7-3960X, X79 Platform Reviewed

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21 Comments

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No QuickSync=biggest disappointment, plus new socket unnecessarily. And the X79 platform won't have AHCI drivers for XP I read, meaning reduced performance in your old games which don't work on Windows 7.

xpclient said,
No QuickSync=biggest disappointment, plus new socket unnecessarily. And the X79 platform won't have AHCI drivers for XP I read, meaning reduced performance in your old games which don't work on Windows 7.

i7 3960+ XP = u mad?

xpclient said,

I didn't mean exclusively XP. I meant dual boot. Maybe you don't have any games or apps that run high performance and don't run on W7. Btw XP is faster on dual and quad cores than W7: http://www.infoworld.com/d/win...windows-multicore-redux-494 Windows 7 requires 8 or more cores before it can outperform XP.

doubt XP would support the new instructions set in SB-E as well , ala intel AVX

would be big hinderance as time pass on and more added in nextgen

So about the same in gaming, and about 20-30% quicker in encoding, benchmarking and when using heavy data programs.

If Ivy Bridge for LGA 1155 is 20% faster than Sandy Bridge as Intel is aiming for, then I fail to see why anyone would need LGA 2011, other than the abilities of quad channel memory speeds and capacities.

By the time Ivy Bridge-E is released, surely most people would be waiting for Haswell?

este said,
Still around the 3.2-3.6 GHz speed? hmmm I think they should be past this by now...

Yes, let's ship 4 GHz CPU's which are overheated in a second and are way too unstable overall.

Mr Spoon said,
I don't even know what SANDY BRIDGE is or means!

Well, if it helps, I do know what Ivy Bridge means; it's a town on the outskirts of Plymouth (if you take out the space).

DDR3 1600mhz now intel? oh please! two years late!

buh won't upgrade till say 2013/2014 my i7 is plenty powerful as it is. No thanks intel!

while i am at would grab DDR4 say 3ghz+ and HD8000/9000

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Its amazing what Intel has done with 2600K. That thing still hold a ground of its own

This.
In relation (of cause not in total, that would be obvious) - BEST CPU I EVER OWNED.

That thing is a beast!
I'm proud of what Intel squeezed out with the 2600. (Not K for me, but still, the difference isn't that huge)

GS:mac

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Its amazing what Intel has done with 2600K. That thing still hold a ground of its own

Yeah but the 990X X58 combination still beats it.

calimike said,
Silly, too many i7 mean same speed. forget Intel and Hello AMD

Yeah great idea. Let's all dump Intel and go with AMD's sub-par processors.

Well, the performance increase was somewhat disappointing. It seems like the next upcoming Intel processors won't do much for gaming or the average user. It also looks like they're just going to focus on reducing power on any future chips (ivy bridge, haswell, skylake) until, perhaps some kind of breakthrough can make performance jump through the roof.

Still, I will be picking one of these up to speed up when I'm compiling code and running multiple VMs. Then maybe get the 8core for bragging rights, and maybe just so I don't have to upgrade for a long time.

Tekkerson said,
Well, the performance increase was somewhat disappointing. It seems like the next upcoming Intel processors won't do much for gaming or the average user. It also looks like they're just going to focus on reducing power on any future chips (ivy bridge, haswell, skylake) until, perhaps some kind of breakthrough can make performance jump through the roof.

Still, I will be picking one of these up to speed up when I'm compiling code and running multiple VMs. Then maybe get the 8core for bragging rights, and maybe just so I don't have to upgrade for a long time.

if they make more power efficient , they could squeeze more performance in theory

doesn't look like we would have octo-core processor anytime soon for general customer

maybe in late 2014/2015 perhaps? (just in time with xp funeral LOL ) and Windows 9 launch !

Tekkerson said,
Well, the performance increase was somewhat disappointing. It seems like the next upcoming Intel processors won't do much for gaming or the average user. It also looks like they're just going to focus on reducing power on any future chips (ivy bridge, haswell, skylake) until, perhaps some kind of breakthrough can make performance jump through the roof.

Still, I will be picking one of these up to speed up when I'm compiling code and running multiple VMs. Then maybe get the 8core for bragging rights, and maybe just so I don't have to upgrade for a long time.


You see, actually the problem here is using programs not optimized for multiple cores.
This is why encoding always takes the lead. It does not matter how many cores you have they can all be used when encoding. The very true nature of this processor is yet to be seen. We need to wait for the upcoming games to actually start supporting, such as Battlefield (Which I didn't see in there) which uses full Quad Core support.

But yeah, I agree in the perspective that price won't justify an upgrade from 2600K.

I know they can squeeze more performance if they're power efficient. But only by very little 10-20%. Similar to what we've seen with the benchmarks so far. The 3960x is a slight improvement over the 2600k. And the same will apply to more power efficient chips, they will only be a slight improvement.