Intel’s NEW X79 LGA2011 Socket Platform and Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge-E Processor Reviewed

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3DMark11 – Performance Settings

Now for a little 3D testing of each platform using some elite GTX 560 Ti video cards. Both the CPU and memory frequency were locked to stock settings to eliminate a few variables. The default Performance setting was used to benchmark the systems so you will be able to compare your own if you don’t feel like buying the program.

Intel Core i7 3960X Sandy Bridge E Processor and X79 Motherboard Preview 33 500x309 Intels NEW X79 LGA2011 Socket Platform and Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge E Processor Reviewed

You get no complaints from me here. The 3960X system was just a bit more nimble with the graphics. It could be the X79 board or CPU making the difference. Or, it could just be both working together well. Let’s check out at least one more heavy 3D benchmark.

Metro2033 – 1920 x 1200

Intel Core i7 3960X Sandy Bridge E Processor and X79 Motherboard Preview 30 500x303 Intels NEW X79 LGA2011 Socket Platform and Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge E Processor Reviewed

This is a familiar trend. This game slaps every video card on the planet silly even when using more than one. Frame rates are relatively close with only slight gains in favor of the new 3960X but not enough to warrant standing on the soap box. As I mentioned before, the 2600K continues to be a formidable gaming platform.

Power Consumption

Intel Core i7 3960X Sandy Bridge E Processor and X79 Motherboard Preview 23 500x302 Intels NEW X79 LGA2011 Socket Platform and Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge E Processor Reviewed

Power consumption shows us a magic trick. Perhaps my X58 platform is just a little too power hungry compared to the X79 even with its extra memory. Is the extra 50 watts going to be enough to matter to the average user? No, not at all really especially when using a good single graphics card.

Thoughts So Far on Sandy Bridge – E and the X79 Platform

Intel Core i7 3960X Sandy Bridge E Processor and X79 Motherboard Preview 21 L 500x289 Intels NEW X79 LGA2011 Socket Platform and Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge E Processor Reviewed

The Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E architecture continues to show us the benefits of good inter-core efficiency. It makes all the difference when gaming, producing media, compiling data, editing and creating content. Regular LGA1155 Sandy Bridge shows us why this is the ultimate choice for high end gaming without breaking the bank. There are Z68 platforms that support all your intense graphics needs while offering multi-thread performance to give you a taste of the pro-user life. LGA2011 Sandy-E offers even more expansion as well as quad channel memory yet offers the full range of features to pro-users and content creators making a living.

As usual, the extreme edition processor carries a hefty $999 US/CA price tag ensuring the pros with the means will be selecting the Core i7-3960X. However, the $550 Core i7-3930K is the real bang for buck hex-core that enthusiasts will undoubtedly select. And, the $400 semi-unlocked Core i7-3820 quad-core/8-thread processor will be able to help content creators on a stricter budget handle those massive programs as it too can utilize that extra memory bandwidth.

Working with the Intel DX79SI motherboard revealed a bit more of the potential of this platform (and some early issues). The default BIOS settings are suppose to ramp up the last 2 cores in the Turbo settings to a 39 max multiplier. However, it appears the BIOS needs some more work as it’s unclear why it very rarely happens. Thus far, any issues are quite minor. Rest assured, we’ll find out which X79 motherboard stands out from the crowd soon in our motherboard round up. And, we expect all the platforms to perform properly once shipping BIOS revisions are released to us.

In the meantime, the new Intel Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X carries our highest recommendation if you can afford such a beast. Even with all the early launch hiccups, it still manages to perform ahead of the pack and we expect more performance and gains once the early issues have been worked out. We’re hopeful that we can paint a clearer picture of what this platform can do when we test out boards from the leading manufacturers in detail in our upcoming X79 motherboard round up.

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About

As our Senior PC Hardware Editor, Eric has been working with tech since before serving in the military where he really got to play with some very cool hardware. As for his prowess on the virtual battlefield, don't let the teddy bear exterior fool you. He can frag and pwn with the best in just about any first person shooter. You may run in to him at LANs, tech shows, and gaming shows, so do say hello.

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