Intel Core i7-3960X Review

Intel Core i7-3960X

Intel Core i7-3960X Review

Intel Core i7-3960X

The diagram of the CPU die shows the deceptively simple layout of the various components. We're sure we can't be the only people who've noticed the 8 Core spaces only filled up by 6 Cores. The ones we do have each support a single Hyper-Thread, giving us 12 threads on this particular CPU. The cores have 32KB of instruction cache and 32KB L1 cache. Level 2 cache is provided by 256KB of shared instruction and L2 cache, whilst 15MB of L3 cache is shared between the cores, with up to 2.5MB available per core.

The Memory Controller is retained on the CPU, continuing the trend that Intel have had for a few processors now. Equally the I/O is also integrated. The merging of the Southbridge onto the CPU is expected in the next revision.

The diagram on the right shows that the new 2011 processors support Quad Channel RAM, for those of you with a unquenchable thirst for memory. It does however state the PCI Express is 2.0, whereas it's up to 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0, as indicated in all the other literature, and the physical board itself. See the slide below for further clarification, or muddying depending on your outlook.

Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review     Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review  

There are a lot of tweaks behind the scenes that to you and me, the average end-user, aren't worth going over too much. We're fairly certain that if you're the kind of person who needs to know that the i7-3960X supports "46 bits of physical address space" and has "static lane numbering reversal and polarity inversion support" then you'll be more willing to delve into the finer points of the documentation.

For us though the important things are neatly summed up in the following slides. 6 Cores hyperthreaded cores giving us 12 threads to play with is the same as all the high-end X58 processors. The really big adjustment for our fun and games is the move from the initially expensive and under-performing Triple Channel RAM of the X58 boards into the world of Quad Channel memory. Thankfully because the LGA2011 is based upon the already successful LGA1155 dual-channel RAM, it's a simple upgrade as the memory is already available at the required voltages.

This left-hand slide also indicates that the combination of the Core i7-3960X and X79 chipset enable the support for PCI Express 3.0, without stating which of the two actually provides it. Given that you can't have one without the other it's not hugely important. What matters is that it supports PCIe 3.0.

We will get into the overclocking side of things more when we take a look at the BIOS on the DX79SI motherboard, but for now it's worth noting some very cool changes. Rather than the simple but limited overclocking available on the SandyBridge, or the complex but open-ended overclocking we saw from the X58 series, the LGA2011 has a nice middle ground. The 'automatic' overclocking actually takes into account the uprated voltages and TDP limits needed to stably sustain an overclock. Also the memory isn't limited to the rather coarse dividers we saw in Sandy Bridge, but there is a 1.25 'gear' option that allows for 1666MHz or 2000MHz. Good for getting a little extra performance without crossing the yawning chasm between 1866MHz and 2133MHz.

Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review     Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review  

Finally we see where Sandy Bridge E, LGA2011, fits in the Intel Roadmap. We can also see the potential performance improvements of the combination between the Core i7-3960X and the Intel DX79SI motherboard and the old X58 i7's. Testing the performance is obviously what we're here for, but before then let's grab a look at the motherboard today's fun is being held on.

Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review     Intel DX79SI and Core i7-3960X Review

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Most Recent Comments

14-11-2011, 03:00:03

tinytomlogan


We've been waiting patiently and now LGA2011 is finally here, so we'll take a look at the range topping Core i7-3960X.

Continue Reading

14-11-2011, 03:11:31

marsey99
40 minutes of x79 goodness <3

14-11-2011, 03:21:12

Azurite
I'm getting SB-E. Intel delivers again

14-11-2011, 04:41:32

dugdiamond
if the future SR-3 has two of these babies on it..... where do i sign

14-11-2011, 04:44:25

CocaCola
Great review Tom. SB-E is totally awesome. Wish I had the budget to build a SB-E system. One can always dream?

14-11-2011, 05:44:20

yassarikhan786
Brilliant review as always. Amazing performance at stock and Intel have done it once again .

14-11-2011, 06:09:54

Lollipop

14-11-2011, 06:31:59

SieB
Wow, scoring 10 on Cinebench strait out the box is amazing, a 2500K @ 4.7ghz scores about 7.9 so that goes to show just how powerful this CPU is.

Also, 48,000 PPD at stock .... The only thing I have against SB-E is that it is still 32nm, power hungry and hot. The heat is to be expected but it would have been nice if SB-E was 22nm and a little cooler using less volts.

If I had money to burn i'd buy one but I think i'll hold out to see what IB-E is like.

14-11-2011, 06:48:41

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Wow, scoring 10 on Cinebench strait out the box is amazing, a 2500K @ 4.7ghz scores about 7.9 so that goes to show just how powerful this CPU is.

Also, 48,000 PPD at stock .... The only thing I have against SB-E is that it is still 32nm, power hungry and hot. The heat is to be expected but it would have been nice if SB-E was 22nm and a little cooler using less volts.

If I had money to burn i'd buy one but I think i'll hold out to see what IB-E is like.
When do you think IB-E will be launched?

14-11-2011, 07:12:52

nothingspecial
767.99 on Aria

Quite a bit cheaper than I'd expected.

3930K is 431.99, which is actually a bit more expensive than I expected. Still probably gonna go for it though.

14-11-2011, 07:26:33

SieB
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

When do you think IB-E will be launched?
Not for a while, probably a years time but i'm planning on upgrading to normal Ivy when it comes out first half of next year and then to Ivy Bridge-E when it does come out.

14-11-2011, 08:05:17

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Not for a while, probably a years time but i'm planning on upgrading to normal Ivy when it comes out first half of next year and then to Ivy Bridge-E when it does come out.
Nice.

14-11-2011, 08:08:01

Excalabur50
OMFG what a chip Intel blows everything out of the water again!!! Great review as always Tom never got bored for a second keep up the great work

14-11-2011, 08:38:24

yggdrasil
Awesome stuff, Shame its out of my price range.

I wounder how long it will be before some these hard core guys try activate those 2 other cores and see if the succeed.

14-11-2011, 08:46:53

mrDMxtreme
i think 3930k is the best bang for your buck AND I WANT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

14-11-2011, 09:10:37

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrDMxtreme View Post

i think 3930k is the best bang for your buck AND I WANT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Definitely and I ALSO WANT IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .

14-11-2011, 09:25:10

mrDMxtreme
probably have to wait for x-mas to save some mooney .... but here in canada just the 3930k is ~600 dollar and the boards are 280+

14-11-2011, 09:31:51

Solidarity
Damn this is a monster

14-11-2011, 09:32:29

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrDMxtreme View Post

probably have to wait for x-mas to save some mooney .... but here in canada just the 3930k is ~600 dollar and the boards are 280+
Converting to GBP I think the prices will be similar.

14-11-2011, 09:37:13

badtaylorx
not sure if you watch your own vids tom???

after 35min er so your camera starts going dark/light/dark/light.......

and

yer mic's commin thru with a fair bit a white noise once that starts.......

may be time for a new one.....not like it owes you anything....its make HOURS of great oc3d goodness for all of us......

thanx again

bTx

14-11-2011, 09:38:05

SieB
Prices are already out, it's 431.99 for the 3930K and 767.99 for the 3960X.

Prices of the ASUS mobos are

P9X79 Deluxe 233.79

P9X79 Pro 189.79

P9X79 Standard 183.79

Rampage IV 266.79

Sabertooth 207.79

I haven't looked up the prices for other boards only ASUS.

EDIT: motherboard prices are without 20% VAT.

14-11-2011, 09:42:02

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Prices are already out, it's 431.99 for the 3930K and 767.99 for the 3960X.

Prices of the ASUS mobos are

P9X79 Deluxe 233.79

P9X79 Pro 189.79

P9X79 Standard 183.79

Rampage IV 266.79

Sabertooth 207.79

I haven't looked up the prices for other boards only ASUS.
The 3930K + Rampage IV looks pretty good considering what a lot of us paid for Sandy Bridge MB + CPU .

14-11-2011, 09:43:10

SieB
Forgot to say those mother board prices are without VAT

14-11-2011, 09:44:50

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Forgot to say those mother board prices are without VAT
Hahaha. It would still be worth it if I had the money

14-11-2011, 10:33:24

Diablo
Just waiting for cpus to be in stock, which doesn't seem to be anywhere.

14-11-2011, 10:36:27

Azurite
Hehe

I love how this chip performes. Wonder how well the benches are when it is clocked.

14-11-2011, 10:36:48

hmmblah
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diablo View Post

Just waiting for cpus to be in stock, which doesn't seem to be anywhere.
You can pre order at Aria.

Edit: And the i7 3960X is in stock at Overclockers.

14-11-2011, 11:12:01

yassarikhan786
The specs for the 3930k and 3960X are very similar so I don't understand why the 3960X costs so much more.

i7-3930K

- Core Size: 32nm

- Socket: LGA2011

- Six Core

- Frequency: 3.20GHz (3.80GHz TURBO)

- Multiplier: 32x (Upto 40x available)

- L2 Cache: 6x 256KB

- L3 Cache: 12MB

- TDP: 130W

- DOES NOT INCLUDE COOLER

- 3yr Warranty

i7 3960X

- Core Size: 32nm

- Socket: LGA2011

- Six Core

- Frequency: 3.30GHz (3.90GHz TURBO)

- Multiplier: 33x (Unlocked Multiplier)

- L2 Cache: 6x 256KB

- L3 Cache: 15MB

- TDP: 130W

- DOES NOT INCLUDE COOLER

- 3yr Warranty

The differences seem minimal to me, so why is the price difference so large. Will the 3960X clock higher or what?

14-11-2011, 11:15:06

Diablo
The highest end chip is always the most expensive, despite not giving that much more. Also aria's dates slipped from 18th --> 29th so I'm probably going to hope scan or somebody else can provide. Aria are definitely the best for the motherboards as far as I can tell though.

14-11-2011, 11:22:25

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diablo View Post

The highest end chip is always the most expensive, despite not giving that much more. Also aria's dates slipped from 18th --> 29th so I'm probably going to hope scan or somebody else can provide. Aria are definitely the best for the motherboards as far as I can tell though.
It looks like the 3930K would be the more sensible option then, given that the differences don't warrant 200+.

14-11-2011, 11:23:30

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by yassarikhan786 View Post

The specs for the 3930k and 3960X are very similar so I don't understand why the 3960X costs so much more.

i7-3930K

- Core Size: 32nm

- Socket: LGA2011

- Six Core

- Frequency: 3.20GHz (3.80GHz TURBO)

- Multiplier: 32x (Upto 40x available)

- L2 Cache: 6x 256KB

- L3 Cache: 12MB

- TDP: 130W

- DOES NOT INCLUDE COOLER

- 3yr Warranty

i7 3960X

- Core Size: 32nm

- Socket: LGA2011

- Six Core

- Frequency: 3.30GHz (3.90GHz TURBO)

- Multiplier: 33x (Unlocked Multiplier)

- L2 Cache: 6x 256KB

- L3 Cache: 15MB

- TDP: 130W

- DOES NOT INCLUDE COOLER

- 3yr Warranty

The differences seem minimal to me, so why is the price difference so large. Will the 3960X clock higher or what?
Yes its not worth it. Though, i dont blame those who will spend money on it. Intel have done this for a long time now

Im getting the K model myself.

14-11-2011, 11:30:52

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Yes its not worth it. Though, i dont blame those who will spend money on it. Intel have done this for a long time now

Im getting the K model myself.
Yep, the K model is the much better option. I've read a few other reviews and they perform identically on most tests when OC'd to the same level .

14-11-2011, 14:07:35

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by yassarikhan786 View Post

Yep, the K model is the much better option. I've read a few other reviews and they perform identically on most tests when OC'd to the same level .
Yeah it reminds me of the i7 920-930 vs the X. If i break my first chip i can get a new one. I couldnt do that if i bought the X one

Do you know what 24/7 vcore they suggest using?

14-11-2011, 14:10:46

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Yeah it reminds me of the i7 920-930 vs the X. If i break my first chip i can get a new one. I couldnt do that if i bought the X one

Do you know what 24/7 vcore they suggest using?
Iirc it was 1.4V for 4.7GHz, but the full system power draw was more than the 990x for both the 3930K and 3960X. It was 200+w more than the 2600K @ 5.0GHz, lol.

14-11-2011, 15:01:24

treboRR
mby they handpick the colden chips....thats why X series will cost more!

14-11-2011, 15:12:14

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by treboRR View Post

mby they handpick the colden chips....thats why X series will cost more!
From reviews I have seen that they OC to pretty much the same levels and are pretty equal in almost all of the benchmark scores so I wouldn't say they are cherry picked.

14-11-2011, 15:59:34

ruthless
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Hehe

I love how this chip performes. Wonder how well the benches are when it is clocked.


so 32% more performance for 500 more monies... hmmm so thats like paying 15 for a 1% increase in performance

14-11-2011, 16:07:42

nothingspecial
Gigabyte board prices (Aria):

X79-UD3: 178.79

X79-UD5: 218.39

X79-UD7(OC): 250.79

G1 Asassin 2: 290.39

Planning on getting a 3930K and a X79-UD5. Hopefully by christmas, stock levels permitting.

14-11-2011, 18:06:48

dugdiamond
Quote:
Originally Posted by yggdrasil View Post

...

I wonder how long it will be before some hardcore guys try activate those 2 other cores and see if the succeed.
the two extra cores have been physically fused off, unlike other chips in the past that have been software locked

15-11-2011, 04:57:48

Solidarity
Here's hoping that a large sum of money magically appears in my bank account.

15-11-2011, 14:43:31

VonBlade
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Do you know what 24/7 vcore they suggest using?
1.45v officially.

16-11-2011, 03:40:58

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruthless View Post

so 32% more performance for 500 more monies... hmmm so thats like paying 15 for a 1% increase in performance
No but the 3930k will be almost similar to the X. I dont mean to make amd users upset by posting that, so dont take it the wrong way. I have used the 965BE 140w and the 1090T myself. I am now going back to Intel because they are so mutch better in almost everything, and the prize difference is perfectly ok as long as Intel dont make them even more expencive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VonBlade View Post

1.45v officially.
Oh thats nice. Cheers for the info.

16-11-2011, 05:13:45

Mr. Strawberry
LGA 2011 is awesome.

it eats everything AMD has to offer for breakfast on consumer level.

be interesting to see if it beats the new 16 core AMD server chip based on bulldozer.

think it would tbh but still will be good to see if AMD can beat intel chips on at least one section of the market

16-11-2011, 05:39:21

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Do you know what 24/7 vcore they suggest using?
Its 1.4v for air - and you need a top end cooler to push the volts that high.

1.5v would be for watercooling and people that understand what overclocking is about.

16-11-2011, 05:51:11

Jerome
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Not for a while, probably a years time but i'm planning on upgrading to normal Ivy when it comes out first half of next year and then to Ivy Bridge-E when it does come out.
Do you keep all you rig's?

16-11-2011, 07:28:17

SieB
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome View Post

Do you keep all you rig's?
No, I sell the parts off to make up the money for the new ones

16-11-2011, 09:39:35

Black
Tom - any chance to do superpi 1M and 16M at 4.8-5.0 GHz tests?

18-11-2011, 04:01:59

Azurite
So there will soon be launched a SB-E with 8 cores? Theres some news about it on techpowerup. Looks like im gonna wait a bit longer before i purchase my new cpu.

18-11-2011, 04:05:36

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

So there will soon be launched a SB-E with 8 cores? Theres some news about it on techpowerup. Looks like im gonna wait a bit longer before i purchase my new cpu.
The 8 cores should be monstrous .

18-11-2011, 04:59:26

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by yassarikhan786 View Post

The 8 cores should be monstrous .
Yeah it might be very nice

I read that the C1 stepping have a few issues that might be fixed in next batch, so il think il wait a bit and see what will happend. Also, the IB-E is launched Q4 2012, and it is compatible with X79 MB.

Correct me if im wrong. the 8 core SB-E is only for servers?

Why no quick sync on the SB-E?

18-11-2011, 06:24:56

SieB
The 8 cores are the Xeons, they are mainly for severs and aren't really designed for desktop use they are designed for use in dual configuration on Server motherboards like the SR3. Just looked at the specs as well and these Xeons have a 150w TDP

The reason there is no quick sync on SB-E is because they don't have the integrated graphics processor like SB, the IGP is used for quick sync.

I'm not sure about the IB-E news about them being compatible with X79 and the 2011 socket. They probably will be but i'm betting IB-E will have a new chipset when it's released, so even though they might be compatible with the X79 chipset and 2011 socket it will probably just be better to wait for the new chipset for IB-E. It's the same with the desktop Ivy Bridge CPUs as well, they are compatible with P67 and Z68 (gen 3 motherbaoards anyway) but Intel are releasing new motherboards with a new Z77 chipset when Ivy Bridge is released.

18-11-2011, 06:53:42

Azurite
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

The 8 cores are the Xeons, they are mainly for severs and aren't really designed for desktop use they are designed for use in dual configuration on Server motherboards like the SR3. Just looked at the specs as well and these Xeons have a 150w TDP

The reason there is no quick sync on SB-E is because they don't have the integrated graphics processor like SB, the IGP is used for quick sync.

I'm not sure about the IB-E news about them being compatible with X79 and the 2011 socket. They probably will be but i'm betting IB-E will have a new chipset when it's released, so even though they might be compatible with the X79 chipset and 2011 socket it will probably just be better to wait for the new chipset for IB-E. It's the same with the desktop Ivy Bridge CPUs as well, they are compatible with P67 and Z68 (gen 3 motherbaoards anyway) but Intel are releasing new motherboards with a new Z77 chipset when Ivy Bridge is released.
Yeah that was what i thought. I didnt read the article well enough first time, so i thought it came a 8 core desktop cpu. Il grab a 3930k then, but i might wait for second batch.

18-11-2011, 07:16:58

SieB
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurite View Post

Yeah that was what i thought. I didnt read the article well enough first time, so i thought it came a 8 core desktop cpu. Il grab a 3930k then, but i might wait for second batch.
No harm in waiting, good things come to those who wait, or so they say, never seems to happen for me

18-11-2011, 07:48:44

marsey99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Black View Post

Tom - any chance to do superpi 1M and 16M at 4.8-5.0 GHz tests?
its a couple of seconds faster than sandybridge clock for clock mate from its extra ram bandwidth.
Reply
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