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X79 Express: P67, Is That You?

Intel Core i7-3960X Review: Sandy Bridge-E And X79 Express
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The Patsburg chipset (code name for the silicon on which X79 Express centers), as Intel originally planned it, was to have as many as 14 ports of storage connectivity. Six of them were SATA-based (2 x 6 Gb/s and 4 x 3 Gb/s), while as many as eight emanated from a separate, integrated storage controller. In its most decked-out form, that controller would have offered eight SAS 6 Gb/s ports. It also would have borrowed four of the processor’s 40 third-gen PCI Express lanes to create a x4 link dedicated to storage traffic.

Apparently, we’ll still see that souped-up rendition of Patsburg in 2012. But the company either couldn’t or didn’t enable it in X79 Express, leaving the chipset with the same two 6 Gb/s and four 3 Gb/s SATA ports we’ve seen for almost a year on the P67 Express chipset.

When you start looking around at the rest of X79’s features, you realize that, while the platform bears a new name, it’s pretty much P67 Express. You get the same 14 USB 2.0 ports, the same integrated gigabit Ethernet MAC, eight lanes of second-gen PCI Express, and HD Audio.

Now, Intel does include a driver called Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise 3.0, which is designed to facilitate the additional data protection servers and workstations will need once the more advanced versions of Patsburg emerge. For all of our testing, though, Microsoft’s native AHCI drivers are fine.

As a result, all of the changes inherent to the Sandy Bridge-E/X79 platform, at least on the desktop, are attributable to the processor. We’ll have to wait until next year for a more advanced platform—which motherboard vendors don’t seem to be sure what to do with yet, by the way.

I’m frankly not too concerned, though. Do I really need SAS support? No. Do I even need more than six SATA ports? Not really. More than anything, it’s a shame that Intel wasn’t able to incorporate native USB 3.0 support.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    Maziar , November 14, 2011 6:23 AM
    Wow,lots of details and benchies.Great review as always Chris !
  • 24 Hide
    ohim , November 14, 2011 7:12 AM
    This article tells me 2 things , either our current software is a total piece of crap since it has absolutely no clue of multi core cpus, or the future without AMD is so grim that intel makes you pay 1000 bucks for a cpu that doesn`t perform really that fast ... but for sure the software industry needs to take a better look at those multicore optimisations.
  • 17 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , November 14, 2011 7:40 AM
    So, are we getting any overclocked measurements in the near future?

    The funny thing is that cores don't scale well. They do, but it's far from ideal as the percentages from the 2600K show (and the FX-8150 but that's a different story).


    But the takeaway:

    -If you're playing games the i5-2500K is the best purchase you can make and it's enough for Tri-580 SLI. Only WoW shows any difference, but most games ignore it.

    -X79 is Intel being just plain lazy. No matter how you slice it- the X79 should have been called X67 and left like that. It's also a wildcat platform that will only support at most 6 CPUs that aren't terribly crippled.

    -A Phenom II 955BE (or unlocked 960T, or a 1090T/1100T) is still a fine CPU to have unless you're gaming with dual graphics cards or doing time-intensive tasks.
Other Comments
  • 28 Hide
    Maziar , November 14, 2011 6:23 AM
    Wow,lots of details and benchies.Great review as always Chris !
  • 17 Hide
    SpadeM , November 14, 2011 6:50 AM
    So no SAS/Full Sata 3 ports but u do get PCIe 3 ... no Quicksync but u do get 2 more cores and the added cache ... no USB 3.0 but u get quad channel memory which in real life every day computing is a minimal gain at best. Feels an awful lot like a weak trade if you ask me. I'm basically asked to buy the P67 chipset with sprinkles on top. And for 1000$ it feels like it falls short. For heavy workloads it's cheaper and faster to make yourself 2 systems based on 1155 or bulldozer and render, fold, chew numbers that way. X79 should have launched with an ivy bridge based cpu inside and a better chipset to live to it's name.
    What we have today is simply a platform for bragging rights not a serious contender to the X38, X48, X58 family.
  • 3 Hide
    nikorr , November 14, 2011 6:58 AM
    Enjoyed the review Chris ! WoW.
  • 13 Hide
    redsunrises , November 14, 2011 7:07 AM
    Illfindu, you are beating a dead horse... Old news, lets move on (sorry, just tired of the same thing being said over and over, which will end in an amd fanboy fight). Great review though!
  • 24 Hide
    ohim , November 14, 2011 7:12 AM
    This article tells me 2 things , either our current software is a total piece of crap since it has absolutely no clue of multi core cpus, or the future without AMD is so grim that intel makes you pay 1000 bucks for a cpu that doesn`t perform really that fast ... but for sure the software industry needs to take a better look at those multicore optimisations.
  • -4 Hide
    stonedatheist , November 14, 2011 7:12 AM
    I think Intel would be raking in the dough if they left all 8 cores enabled for the 3960X. I doubt that a later revision will enable them. 8c/16t will probably hit the desktop with IB-E (can't wait) :) 
  • -9 Hide
    joytech22 , November 14, 2011 7:13 AM
    :| Well AMD is fighting a losing battle.. (In High-End CPU's, which I actually use for rendering etc..)
    I would LOVE to see them pick up their game and provide me with a worthy upgrade over my 4GHz i7 2600 (Non-K). I would swoop it up.

    Look, BD had 4 modules with two "cores" each, each module is equivalent to a Sandy Bridge core.
    They should just combine both of those cores or make them a single core, so we get 4 threads.

    Then create 4-6-8 core versions of those CPU's..
    Think about it.. the FX8150 is more of a 4-core CPU where the resources are halved pretty much so you get two threads per core, it would have been MUCH MUCH better if they just kept 4 strong cores.


    Not sure why either but I always seem to start an AMD related comment :\
  • 3 Hide
    sudeshc , November 14, 2011 7:21 AM
    great but too expensive....
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , November 14, 2011 7:23 AM
    Hi Chris,

    The labels are wrong on the graphs on this page the last ones should read DDR2-2133 on the last two shouldn't it?

    JeanLuc
  • -2 Hide
    Yargnit , November 14, 2011 7:33 AM
    The 3930k certainly appears to be the chip to watch for out of this bunch. The 3820 is basically a 2600k/2700k on a more expensive platform, and the 3960x needed to be the full 8c/16t version of the processor to sell for $1000. (If you are dropping that much A dual socket EVGA SR2 setup still makes more since)

    The only use for the 3820 really seems to be a cheap placeholder processor if you need a new PC now, but want to wait for a likely full 8c/16t version to come out around the time Ivy Bridge is released. The 3930k should prove to be a very good high end gaming/ mid range workstation part though for people who invest close to $1k in graphics cards.
  • 17 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , November 14, 2011 7:40 AM
    So, are we getting any overclocked measurements in the near future?

    The funny thing is that cores don't scale well. They do, but it's far from ideal as the percentages from the 2600K show (and the FX-8150 but that's a different story).


    But the takeaway:

    -If you're playing games the i5-2500K is the best purchase you can make and it's enough for Tri-580 SLI. Only WoW shows any difference, but most games ignore it.

    -X79 is Intel being just plain lazy. No matter how you slice it- the X79 should have been called X67 and left like that. It's also a wildcat platform that will only support at most 6 CPUs that aren't terribly crippled.

    -A Phenom II 955BE (or unlocked 960T, or a 1090T/1100T) is still a fine CPU to have unless you're gaming with dual graphics cards or doing time-intensive tasks.
  • 5 Hide
    halcyon , November 14, 2011 9:07 AM
    Irrevocably thorough review Chris. Excellent work, as usual. Oh, and I and do want a 3960X. Don't need it. Can't justify it. Just want it.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , November 14, 2011 9:19 AM
    JeanLucHi Chris,The labels are wrong on the graphs on this page the last ones should read DDR2-2133 on the last two shouldn't it?JeanLuc


    Yessir! Working on it now!
  • 0 Hide
    rahulkadukar , November 14, 2011 9:22 AM
    If this is coming out now, when is Ivy Bridge scheduled to come out
  • 2 Hide
    undead_assault , November 14, 2011 9:44 AM
    hmmm, nice review, Chris! Can you do some overclocking review on these chips?
  • 16 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 14, 2011 9:48 AM
    everyone saying its too expensive, no sh%t!!! Top end cpus have and will always be expensive. Lets go back to 2006 - amd FX-62 - over $1000 at launch. and back to 1999 - AMD athlon 700mhz - near $900 http://www.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/reviews/cpu/athlon_700/ . pentium III http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/pentium3/prices.asp $700+. Has everyone lost their memory???
  • 5 Hide
    machvelocy , November 14, 2011 9:51 AM
    any chances to unlock the disabled core?
  • -6 Hide
    halcyon , November 14, 2011 9:56 AM
    Quote:
    everyone saying its too expensive, no sh%t!!! Top end cpus have and will always be expensive. Lets go back to 2006 - amd FX-62 - over $1000 at launch. and back to 1999 - AMD athlon 700mhz - near $900 http://www.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/reviews/cpu/athlon_700/ . pentium III http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/pentium3/prices.asp $700+. Has everyone lost their memory???

    Yes. Its expensive. In other news the Earth orbits the Sun. I wish I had enough $$$ that the costs of this CPU was inconsequential to me.
  • 4 Hide
    srgess , November 14, 2011 9:59 AM
    I heard when windows 8 come out this processor will get more benefit lawl
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