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Test Setup And Benchmarks

Intel Core i7-3930K And Core i7-3820: Sandy Bridge-E, Cheaper
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Before we get into the testing, I need to clarify one point from my launch coverage. In that piece, I used Intel’s DX79SI motherboard, along with a 16 GB memory kit from G.Skill to measure memory bandwidth scaling. Except that the modules wouldn’t operate above DDR3-1600, forcing me to switch to an alternative platform.

In working with Intel afterward, it was determined that the board’s firmware had an XMP bug that kept profiles from loading, necessitating manual specification of looser timings at higher data rates. A subsequent beta update fixed this, putting the Intel board back into shape for testing here today.

The blue bars you see across the following pages represent all of the tested processors at their default settings. For all Sandy Bridge-E-based platforms, testing is performed on Intel’s DX79SI, just as it was in my launch piece, with 32 GB of Crucial memory stomping out any potential capacity limitations.

The two red bars are indicative of both overclocked, cost-optimized platforms. There, I’m using the least-expensive X79 Express-based motherboard and quad-channel memory kit currently available on Newegg: ASRock’s X79 Extreme4-M and G.Skill’s F3-12800CL9Q-8GBZL.

Test Hardware
Processors
Intel Core i7-3930K (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.2 GHz (32 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 12 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-3820 (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.6 GHz (36 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 10 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.3 GHz (33 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-990X (Gulftown) 3.43 GHz (26 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 12 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi) 3.6 GHz (18 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3+, 8 MB Shared L3, Turbo Core enabled, Power-savings enabled

AMD Phenom II X4 980 BE (Deneb) 3.7 GHz (18.5 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Power-savings enabled

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban) 3.3 GHz (16.5 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Core enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) 3.4 GHz (34 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge) 3.3 GHz (33 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-920 (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz (20 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled
Motherboard
Intel DX79SI (LGA 2011) Intel X79 Express Chipset, BIOS SI.0280B

Asus Rampage IV Extreme (LGA 2011) Intel X79 Express Chipset, BIOS 0067

Asus Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+) AMD 990FX/SB950 Chipset, BIOS 0813

Asus Rampage III Formula (LGA 1366) Intel X58 Express, BIOS 0505

Asus Maximus IV Extreme (LGA 1155) Intel P67 Express, BIOS 0901
Memory
Crucial 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) DDR3-1333, MT16JTF1G64AZ-1G4D1 @ DDR3-1600 at 1.65 V on Socket AM3+ and LGA 2011, DDR-1333 at 1.65 V on LGA 1155

Crucial 24 GB (3 x 8 GB) DDR3-1333, MT16JTF1G64AZ-1G4D1 @ DDR3-1066 at 1.65 V on LGA 1366
Hard Drive
Intel SSD 510 250 GB, SATA 6 Gb/s
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Power Supply
Cooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 280.26
Nvidia GeForce Release 285.62 for all SLI testing
3D Game Benchmarks And Settings
BenchmarkDetails
Crysis 2
Game Settings: Ultra Quality Settings, Anti-Aliasing: Disabled, V-sync: Disabled, High-Quality Textures: Enabled, DirectX 9 and DirectX 11, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1600, Demo: Central Park
DiRT 3
Game Settings:  Ultra Quality Settings, Anti-Aliasing: Disabled and 8x AA, Anisotropic Filtering: Disabled, Sync Every Frame: No, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1600, Demo: Built-in Game Demo
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Game Settings: Ultra Quality Settings, Anti-Aliasing: 1x AA and 8x AA, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x, Vertical Sync: Disabled, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1600, Demo: Crushblow to The Krazzworks, DirectX 11
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
iTunesVersion: 10.4.10, 64-bit
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.95
Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2.2
Version: 2.2.0.5440
MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio:
MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
x264 Software LibraryAMD-Supplied AVX- and XOP-Optimized builds, TechARP's x264 HD Benchmark 4.0, Modified to accommodate new versions of x264 and CPU-Z 1.58
Application Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
WinRARVersion 4.01
RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 14Version 14.0 Pro (8652)
WinZip Commandline Version 3, ZIPX, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
7-Zip
Version 9.20 (x64)
LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5
Paladin Sequence to H.264 Blu-ray
Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality, Mercury Playback Engine: Hardware Mode
Adobe After Effects CS 5.5
Create Video which includes 3 Streams
Frames: 210, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
BlenderVersion: 2.59
Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, Resolution: 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing: 8x, Render: THG.blend frame 1
Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 (64-Bit)Version: 11
Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15 000x7266), Filters:, Radial Blur (Amount: 10, Method: zoom, Quality: good) Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark sysmbol) Median (Radius: 1px) Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
ABBYY FineReaderVersion: 10 Professional Build (10.0.102.82)
Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
3ds Max 2012
Render Space Flyby, 1440x1080, from Y: RAM Drive
Adobe Acrobat X Professional
PDF Document Creation (Print) from Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
SolidWorks 2010
PhotoView 360, 01-Lighter Explode.SLDASM Benchmark File, 1920x1080 Render, 1.44 Million Polygons, 256 AA Samples
Visual Studio 2010
Miranda IM Compile, Scripted
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4
3DMark 11
Version 1.0.2
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version: 17.80
Processor Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth, .NET Arithmetic, .NET Multimedia
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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    Dacatak , December 9, 2011 4:31 AM
    JOSHSKORNFor gaming (the high end CPU intensive), is there any noticeable difference between the 2500k and the 3960X?


    If by "noticeable" you mean "perceivable to mere mortals", then no.

    If you can in fact notice the difference between 105 vs 110 FPS, then you are a god, and you deserve only the best.
  • 17 Hide
    gmcizzle , December 9, 2011 8:11 AM
    Why would you use Crysis 2 as a CPU benching game? Use Starcraft 2 instead.
  • 14 Hide
    spunkyddog , December 9, 2011 4:35 AM
    I bought the i7-3930K with 32GB of DDR3 1600 RAM last week and assembled a couple days ago. I have two Kingston 120GB SSDs in RAID that have been benched on my system at a theoretical 1,100MB/S Read and 1,300MB/S Write. Coming from a Pentium D 3.0GHz, this was like night and day. My renders went from 40minutes to 1minute. I'm not overclocking purely for the fact that this thing's a beast already and I'm doing high-end 3D work using Maya, Photoshop, After Effects, Video, etc. Also - I like the peace and quiet.

    Intel did an awesome job with the SBE line - despite the fact that we're missing some wanted/promised features (native support for USB and PCI-Express 3.0. I'm waiting out for the PCI 3.0 cards before I upgrade my graphics... curious if the Asus P9X79 Pro will hold it's promises.

    Thanks Chris for reviewing this processor. I felt like I went out on a limb getting this processor over the Extreme, but the $600 was well worth it.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    compton , December 9, 2011 3:41 AM
    This is a really excellent analysis. Clearly, I must be drinking at the wrong places because I never leave the pub with any hardware nicer than a hangover.
  • 0 Hide
    theuniquegamer , December 9, 2011 3:54 AM
    So nice overclocking at 4.5ghz. I can expect that the upcoming ivy bridge unlocked series may be stable atleast 4.2 will all 4 cores active. I can't wait till Q2 next year to see benchmarks .
  • 0 Hide
    Dacatak , December 9, 2011 4:10 AM
    Possible TYPO in the bottom graph for Dirt 3 benchmark.
    FX-8150 benchmark with no AA says "68.8" FPS. I think it's more like "48.8".
  • -5 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , December 9, 2011 4:22 AM
    For gaming (the high end CPU intensive), is there any noticeable difference between the 2500k and the 3960X?
  • 27 Hide
    Dacatak , December 9, 2011 4:31 AM
    JOSHSKORNFor gaming (the high end CPU intensive), is there any noticeable difference between the 2500k and the 3960X?


    If by "noticeable" you mean "perceivable to mere mortals", then no.

    If you can in fact notice the difference between 105 vs 110 FPS, then you are a god, and you deserve only the best.
  • 14 Hide
    spunkyddog , December 9, 2011 4:35 AM
    I bought the i7-3930K with 32GB of DDR3 1600 RAM last week and assembled a couple days ago. I have two Kingston 120GB SSDs in RAID that have been benched on my system at a theoretical 1,100MB/S Read and 1,300MB/S Write. Coming from a Pentium D 3.0GHz, this was like night and day. My renders went from 40minutes to 1minute. I'm not overclocking purely for the fact that this thing's a beast already and I'm doing high-end 3D work using Maya, Photoshop, After Effects, Video, etc. Also - I like the peace and quiet.

    Intel did an awesome job with the SBE line - despite the fact that we're missing some wanted/promised features (native support for USB and PCI-Express 3.0. I'm waiting out for the PCI 3.0 cards before I upgrade my graphics... curious if the Asus P9X79 Pro will hold it's promises.

    Thanks Chris for reviewing this processor. I felt like I went out on a limb getting this processor over the Extreme, but the $600 was well worth it.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , December 9, 2011 4:41 AM
    spunky,

    Glad you're enjoying. You do, actually get PCIe 3.0 support, but no USB 3.0, unfortunately.

    Dacatak,

    Yup, typo--fixing now!
  • 3 Hide
    sna , December 9, 2011 4:42 AM
    the only good reason to get X79 is the more ram .. u can get cheap 32G ram system , or go for 64G of ram and enjoy a ram disk

    it is a good thing
  • 2 Hide
    soccerdocks , December 9, 2011 5:24 AM
    The Overclocking Sandy Bridge-E On A Budget page states, "With all of that said, 4.5 GHz was rock-solid down at 3.61 V". I'm pretty sure you meant 1.36 V.
  • 7 Hide
    cangelini , December 9, 2011 5:28 AM
    soccerdocksThe Overclocking Sandy Bridge-E On A Budget page states, "With all of that said, 4.5 GHz was rock-solid down at 3.61 V". I'm pretty sure you meant 1.36 V.


    Indeed, fixed! At 3.6 V, we'd have dead Sandy. :) 
  • -1 Hide
    agnickolov , December 9, 2011 5:37 AM
    Hmm, 7% improvement over 2600K in Visual Studio isn't all that impressive... Perhaps 3930K isn't such a smart choice for a developer workstation after all.
  • -2 Hide
    cactus45 , December 9, 2011 6:21 AM
    Its interesting there is no core/core and clock/clock comparison with the 4 core 3820 and 2600k. If there was it would highlight just how little the X79 platform offers when compared to Z68.

    Intel has made sure reviewers dont highlight on this factor, and instead asks reviewers to focus on the 6 core performance.

    Intel didnt release the 4 core 3820(at launch) for this reason, it makes it easy to compare to normal sandy bridge and would show that even with a socket that is double the size, and quad channel memory X79 doesnt give you any better performance than Z68.

    I always buy the high-end but X79 is a big letdown, Intel knows it and they're trying to control the reviews so it doesnt look as bad as it is
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2011 6:37 AM
    For games and people who search for price/performance, i7 2600K/2700K is and will remain the best solution. With the price difference between the old Sandy and the new ones, you could buy a better video card, another one, or a SSD that would boost you system better.
  • 9 Hide
    cangelini , December 9, 2011 6:54 AM
    cactus45Its interesting there is no core/core and clock/clock comparison with the 4 core 3820 and 2600k. If there was it would highlight just how little the X79 platform offers when compared to Z68. Intel has made sure reviewers dont highlight on this factor, and instead asks reviewers to focus on the 6 core performance. Intel didnt release the 4 core 3820(at launch) for this reason, it makes it easy to compare to normal sandy bridge and would show that even with a socket that is double the size, and quad channel memory X79 doesnt give you any better performance than Z68. I always buy the high-end but X79 is a big letdown, Intel knows it and they're trying to control the reviews so it doesnt look as bad as it is


    This shouldn't be necessary. Same architecture = same per-clock performance. If you need numbers, look at iTunes, WinZip, and Lame benchmark results. If you need yet additional proof, check out the original Sandy Bridge-E review, where I explicitly run the results you're saying don't get run.

    Finally, as is mentioned in *this* story, the CPUs didn't come from Intel. -3930K came from Newegg and -3820, which isn't out yet, came from an unnamed other source.

    Thanks,
    Chris
  • 2 Hide
    tomfreak , December 9, 2011 7:10 AM
    Intel should have sell the 2011 CPU as 8 core instead of disable the 2 cores and sell at six core. 2011 cpu may be an enthusiast CPU, but it is still a high volume CPU compared to server cpu,

    it cant be the yield in Intel fab are so bad that all 2011 CPU produce by Intel have only 6 working cores at best.
  • -3 Hide
    Haserath , December 9, 2011 7:19 AM
    cactus45Its interesting there is no core/core and clock/clock comparison with the 4 core 3820 and 2600k. If there was it would highlight just how little the X79 platform offers when compared to Z68. Intel has made sure reviewers dont highlight on this factor, and instead asks reviewers to focus on the 6 core performance. Intel didnt release the 4 core 3820(at launch) for this reason, it makes it easy to compare to normal sandy bridge and would show that even with a socket that is double the size, and quad channel memory X79 doesnt give you any better performance than Z68. I always buy the high-end but X79 is a big letdown, Intel knows it and they're trying to control the reviews so it doesnt look as bad as it is

    This is the same as LGA 1366 v. LGA 1155 once the later was released. 1366 offered higher memory bandwidth and more Pci-e lanes, but even most enthusiasts wouldn't get the higher end platform due to price for performance.

    Most settled for the i5-750(or lower since you could overclock anything then) just like most are settling for the 2500k now.
  • -2 Hide
    assassin123 , December 9, 2011 7:47 AM
    wow.. . . Great intel is so good
  • 17 Hide
    gmcizzle , December 9, 2011 8:11 AM
    Why would you use Crysis 2 as a CPU benching game? Use Starcraft 2 instead.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2011 9:46 AM
    It's just a shame that you didn't overclock the 2600K & 2500K during this article to give it a better perspective.
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