Intel Core i7-4960X Review: Ivy Bridge-E, Benchmarked

Is Ivy Bridge-E An Enthusiast’s Salvation?

Does Intel’s Core i7-4960X, specifically, get me all revved up about upgrading? Well, no. Not really. But then again, those thousand-dollar CPUs rarely do. What about the Core i7-4930K replacing Intel’s -3930K for $550? That’d be a tough sell for all of the same reasons. Mainly, it doesn’t push performance high enough to warrant a big price tag. Any interest in a Core i7-4820K? I’d be more inclined to bet on a -4770K/Z87 platform, if only for the newer chipset’s extra functionality.

As far back as April of last year we knew that Core i7-3770K was somewhere between zero and seven percent faster than Core i7-2700K, depending on the workload. Is it really a surprise that Ivy Bridge-E would only be a few percent faster than Sandy Bridge-E? At least on the performance end, Core i7-4960X is close to what we might have expected.

Still, it would be cool to see Intel configure Core i7s with 10 or 12 cores, like some of the planned Ivy Bridge-EP models. Instead, it looks like we’ll be waiting for Haswell-E to see the first eight-core enthusiast-oriented processors. As a result, Intel is really limiting the appeal of Ivy Bridge-E to power users building or buying brand new PCs. The bummer there is the two-year-old platform with two SATA 6Gb/s ports and no native USB 3.0. That’s hardly going to get an enthusiast worked up when Z87 is so much more fully featured. If you already own a Core i7-3960X or -3930K, you’re simply not going to sink another big chunk into single-digit percent gains.

Should Ivy Bridge-E fail to encourage upgrades or new system builds, I know who’s going to absolutely love this new architecture: the server and workstation segments. For what little gets added to performance, Ivy Bridge-E does some crazy-awesome things to power and efficiency. When you multiply out the gains across a rack, you’re looking at a lot less power, a lot less heat, and a lot less cooling.

Consider this a parting shot: Core i7-4960X is faster than Core i7-3970X and simultaneously about 30% more efficient. In the world of Xeon E5-2x00 v2 processors, that’s going to be killer. Want some proof? Go check out Intel's 12-Core Xeon With 30 MB Of L3: The New Mac Pro's CPU?

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
137 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • ingtar33
    about all i'd expect. shame really, but it looks like the enthusiast market is at a standstill till AMD starts to compete again.
    37
  • designasaurus
    There's a rumor going around that Ivy-E is going to have a soldered heatspreader instead of using thermal paste. Obviously this would be a big differentiator for enthusiasts picking between Haswell and Ivy-E. Given your access to Ivy-E, do you guys at Tom's have any opinions on this rumor?
    14
  • Other Comments
  • naihan
    Boring. Call me when X99 platform is available.
    6
  • Someone Somewhere
    Probably would have been nice to be 8-core. Isn't the actual die on these things just a cut-down 12-core chip? Think I read that somewhere.

    EDIT: Minor error:
    Quote:
    surface alongside Haswell-based 9-series chipsets


    Shouldn't that be Broadwell?
    -2
  • designasaurus
    There's a rumor going around that Ivy-E is going to have a soldered heatspreader instead of using thermal paste. Obviously this would be a big differentiator for enthusiasts picking between Haswell and Ivy-E. Given your access to Ivy-E, do you guys at Tom's have any opinions on this rumor?
    14
  • killerchickens
    I bet it overclocks like a beast. :)
    Lol now time to spend $1000 to save on my power bill.
    8
  • ingtar33
    about all i'd expect. shame really, but it looks like the enthusiast market is at a standstill till AMD starts to compete again.
    37
  • sna
    too early to judge...

    The 6 cores ivyBridge-e "K" version is the real thing.

    and I dont get it , how Tomshardwae fails to say about the SandyBridge-e not having PCIE 3.0 support , while the ivy-E has PCIe 3.0 support . this is a Big factor here.
    -8
  • ingtar33
    Anonymous said:
    too early to judge...

    The 6 cores ivyBridge-e "K" version is the real thing.

    and I dont get it , how Tomshardwae fails to say about the SandyBridge-e not having PCIE 3.0 support , while the ivy-E has PCIe 3.0 support . this is a Big factor here.


    they did say it. You didn't read the beginning of the review. Of course pci-e 3.0 is a gimmick and not a reason to buy a new 2011 mb and ib-e chip... and it will remain a marketing gimmick untill gpus can actually be bottlenecked by pci-e 2.0 x16... high end gpus barely bottleneck on pci-e 2.0 x8 atm... it will be a little while (another generation or 3) before gpus will NEED pci-e 3.0.
    7
  • Someone Somewhere
    Quote:
    official PCI Express 3.0 compliance (remember, Sandy Bridge-E only claimed 8 GT/s signaling support), and 22 nm manufacturing.


    That's pretty much saying it did it unofficially.

    Besides, you have to look hard to find something bottlenecked by PCIe2.0x8; even high-end GPUs won't run into bandwidth limitations.
    2
  • CommentariesAnd More
    WOW !!!!!!! So Intel is expecting someone to spend another 1000 bucks just for a 10-20% boost. Yay!!!!!!!! This is Ivy Bridge-E. I am getting it , YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    -21
  • shin0bi272
    still no gaming benchmarks eh? I guess I'll save my money and stick with my i7-920 for a little bit longer.
    9
  • sna
    :) PCIe 3.0 is a Gimmick ?

    you people think this is a Gaming only Machine?

    try to buy PCIe 3.0 8x/4x Raid Card for example ... they are around starting at $300

    LAN cards as well , and coming cards etc ..

    and who knows ? maybe Titan 2X cards apper :)

    And Many people Compalind about their SandyBridge-e not supporting PCIe 3.0 speed..

    as for the lack of USB3.0 and few Sata3 ports , this is a 40 Lanes CPU , just buy that 4X PCIe usb 3.0 card and add it problem solved.
    -13
  • Someone Somewhere
    First off, yes it is largely a gaming machine. If not, it would likely be using Xeons.

    I'd like to see a situation in which you need 4GB/s each way SAS/SATA, but can't afford a Xeon based platform

    LAN cards. At 500MB/s each way (for an PCIe2.0x1 card, plus you're more likely to use an x4 card). You got something with 10GbE?

    Even a Titan 2x could run on PCIe2.0x16.

    Most people don't like running many addin cards. Besides, where's the room given the expected use of this platform is multi-GPU systems?
    6
  • ingtar33
    Anonymous said:
    :) PCIe 3.0 is a Gimmick ?

    you people think this is a Gaming only Machine?

    try to buy PCIe 3.0 8x/4x Raid Card for example ... they are around starting at $300

    LAN cards as well , and coming cards etc ..

    and who knows ? maybe Titan 2X cards apper :)

    And Many people Compalind about their SandyBridge-e not supporting PCIe 3.0 speed..

    as for the lack of USB3.0 and few Sata3 ports , this is a 40 Lanes CPU , just buy that 4X PCIe usb 3.0 card and add it problem solved.


    psh... there ARE pci-e 2.0 x16 boards with multiple card support you know. And pci-e 2.0x16 is identical speed to pci-e 3.0 x8... just as pci-e 3.0 x4 is equal to pci-e 2.0 x8... and as we pointed out, pci-e 2.0 x8 is about the upper limit for gpu to mb interface speed at the moment, and pci-e 2.0 x16 is well beyond any gpu to max out as of now.
    2
  • tomfreak
    expensive X version clocked high 3.6GHz 6 core.... why not 150w tdp and 8 core @ 3.1-3.3GHz? Do I need a reason to pay extra when the 4930K is doing almost the same performance?
    3
  • slomo4sho
    Wasn't this easy enough to predict by observing the modest improvements trend set forth by Sandy to Ivy and then to Haswell?
    1
  • flong777
    Wow SB is looking better and better. IB was at least a modest upgrade to SB but Haswell is just a loser and that's sad.

    There is one exception; the Haswell processors for laptops are much more efficient and provide huge increases in run time without losing any speed. But for desktops, Haswell appears to be a complete bust.
    3
  • daglesj
    A nice chip for someone I'm sure but surely the market for these high end chips is dwindling really?

    I'd be intrigued to see the sales figures for Intels high-end chips today compared to say eight years ago.
    2
  • ingtar33
    Anonymous said:
    Wake me up when they gonna sell 12 core i-somethings for 400 bucks


    considering they're selling 6 cores for 1000, they wouldn't sell a 8 core for less then 1500 (probably 2k)... anyone expecting less is kidding themselves. this will remain true as long as AMD is uncompetitive.
    2
  • orca_sweets
    Wow. 30% more efficient means with power consumption means use a less powerful light bulb in one of the lamps you use every day. No real performance increase compared to its predecessor. This is depressing. GPU competition right now is awesome. Makes powerful GPUs inexpensive. Now that Intel has passed AMD too much they dont even have to compete with price or performance upgrades. Intel is garbage for what price they charge for some of their processors. Granted, there are several awesome $180 and less options, but anything higher then that and you are paying for BEATS by Dre price premium. We all know how mediocre those are. Sorry. I am done ranting now.
    0
  • daglesj
    Really though, what's the issue?

    You can pay $200 and get 90FPS or pay $800 to get 95-100FPS.

    Intel's high-end chips are dead men walking really. More and more niche as time goes on.
    -2