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Benchmark Results: Content Creation

Intel Core i7-3960X Review: Sandy Bridge-E And X79 Express

This page represented one of the best showings for AMD’s FX processor in AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested. Adding the Core i7-990X and Core i7-3960X, however, pushes AMD's flagship down the stack.

3ds Max easily leverages the 12 logical processors presented by both six-core CPUs, additionally putting Sandy Bridge’s architectural benefits to good use as the -3960X ducks in under two minutes.

Really, this is a good example of how heavier-duty apps stand to benefit from more workstation-oriented hardware. Neither the Core i7-920 or Phenom II X4 980 processors are very old. However, Intel’s new flagship finishes this workload in almost half the time of those two quad-core models.

Photoshop CS 5.1 was another application that let AMD’s FX shine last month (it still does well, with a third-place finish). However, Intel’s previous and current flagships displace it.

Parallelism takes precedence over architecture, as Sandy Bridge-E and Gulftown perform pretty similarly (though Phenom II X6 isn’t able to get through the workload as effortlessly as the two Intel chips and AMD’s own FX).

Premiere Pro is an interesting test, particularly because it leverages our GeForce GTX 580 to turn what used to be an almost hour-long workload into a sub-one-minute walk in the park using Intel’s Core i7-3960X.

The Sandy Bridge architecture is partially responsible for this, evidenced by a comparison to the Core i7-990X. But so are extra cores, demonstrated by a side-by-side with the Core i7-2600K.

The FX-8150 doesn’t do too badly here, given AMD’s $249 MSRP. It’s unfortunate that the chip is still selling for closer to $280 online more than a month after its launch.

Sandy Bridge-E, Gulftown, and Sandy Bridge (-2600K) all fall within five seconds of each other in our After Effects render job. That’s hardly a compelling reason to spend $1000 on an upgrade. However, if you’re coming from something older than a Core i7-920 or Phenom II X4 980, the speed-up is more palpable.

Another first-place finish for the Core i7-3960X in Blender represents a five-second victory over Intel’s Core i7-990X and an eight-second win over the Core i7-2600K.

Those narrow advantages are far less impressive than the near halving of the Phenom II X6 1100T’s showing.

The six-core Intel processors score a big win in SolidWorks, though the Core i7-3960X’s design allows it to outpace the Core i7-990X easily. Again, if you’re a workstation user, the gains attributable to Sandy Bridge-E compared to an older Core i7 or Phenom II X4—both of which we still consider very capable CPUs—are sizeable.

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