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Real-World Benchmarks

Intel Core i7-5960X, -5930K And -5820K CPU Review: Haswell-E Rises
By , Igor Wallossek

Content Creation

To be sure, Haswell-E is all about heavy lifting in content creation applications.

The flagship Core i7-5960X takes second place in our 3ds Max tests, but only because Intel’s Xeon E5-2687W v2 is an eight-core behemoth with a 3.4 GHz base frequency and 4 GHz peak clock rate. That processor sells for $2000—twice the -5960X. Shedding a couple of cores knocks the -5930K into third place, while the -5820K succumbs to Intel’s Core i7-4960X.

Next to all of that heavy metal, a $340 Core i7-4790K looks pretty darned good. There will be those times when a six-core -5820K for a few bucks more is even better, though.

Blender also rewards high core counts. Both eight-core models excel, and Core i7-5960X comes out on top (just barely) thanks to Haswell’s advantages over Ivy Bridge. The two six-core implementations of Haswell-E snag third and fourth place, employing architectural improvements to outpace Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E. The four-core Haswell design can’t keep up.

Sony’s video editing software gets some boost from our GeForce GTX Titan. And as promised on the previous page, folding OpenCL acceleration into the equation throws off our expectations. The outcome falls within a five-second range, but Haswell-E doesn’t start showing up until third place. More than anything, this tells us we’re limited by our GeForce GTX Titan. It’d take a much slower host processor to hurt the render time.

Adobe CC

The scaling in Premiere Pro isn’t as severe as, say, Blender. But the Xeon, with its eight cores and aggressive clock rate, still scores a first-place finish. Our other eight-core chip appears in fourth place, presumably due to its slower 3 GHz base frequency. Stepping up to the -5930K’s 3.5 GHz floor is enough for second place.

After Effects enjoys the Xeon’s tuned frequency, first, and Haswell-E’s efficient architecture, second. The other six-core CPUs pile in ahead of Core i7-4790K, corroborating evidence that this benchmark does benefit from parallelization.

As you no doubt already know, our Photoshop workload consists of two distinct metrics: one that uses well-threaded filters to tax host processors, and another laced with OpenCL acceleration. The former, in red, demonstrates the benefit of eight-core processors versus six-core models compared to a lone quad-core example. The latter is all over the place. The fact that Core i7-4790K is way in front suggests a few fast cores can feed Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan more effectively than wider CPUs operating at lower frequencies.

Productivity and Media Encoding

LAME and iTunes are our two single-threaded tests; both pummel the big eight-core -5960X for its relatively modest peak Turbo Boost bin. Core i7-5930K stretches up to 3.7 GHz, which is good enough for middle-of-the-pack finishes. But the Core i7-4790K hitting 4.4 GHz cannot be matched. Single-threaded software is so last decade, though.

Shifting gears to TotalCode Studio reminds us that the eight-core chips excel under the right conditions. And if you’re in the market for a $1000 CPU, the applications important to you are probably the sort able to benefit from lots of cores…

…like Visual Studio, for example. Haswell-E takes three of the top four positions, interrupted only by the eight-core Xeon built on an Ivy Bridge foundation. If you’re compiling big projects, paying extra for a Core i7-5820K over a Core i7-4790K could save you enough time to justify the premium.

FineReader similarly shows off what an eight-core chip is capable of. The six-core models clump up together, while four cores don’t show as well in our OCR-based test.

HandBrake rounds out a collection of benchmarks capable of utilizing whatever processing resources you offer. The $1000 Core i7-5960X matches the $2000 Xeon, both with eight cores. Haswell’s IPC-oriented advancements help carve out a victory over Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E at six cores. And the Core i7-4790K hangs in there thanks to the same modern architecture and a 4 GHz base clock rate.

Compression

Sorting by our CPU test, WinZip tells a similar story as most of the benchmarks preceding it: eight cores are fastest in a parallelized workload, six cores are also swell, and four execution cores appear quite mainstream.

WinRAR isn’t as damning. Its limited optimizations are more inclined to favor the Core i7-4790K’s high clock rate.

Meanwhile, 7-Zip breaks the tie. More so than we might have guessed at the outset of today’s review, a lower-clocked eight-core processor can flex its muscle in a collection of common software. You don’t necessarily need a specially-written engineering or financial analysis title to realize big gains.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    CaptainTom , August 29, 2014 9:57 AM
    Yeah the real winner of a cpu here is definitely the 5820K. If I were building now, that is what I would use.
  • 18 Hide
    JamesSneed , August 29, 2014 9:26 AM
    Out of curiosity why were so many of the gaming tests only done at 2560x1440? Seems like you would be more GPU bound at this resolution. I'm not sure it really matters but I do like gaming at 1080p for the very high frame rates was curious if these would push frame rates higher. Otherwise nice review.
  • 13 Hide
    ohim , August 29, 2014 9:27 AM
    Quote:
    Affordable 8-cores from Intel are finally coming. Awesome.


    1000$ is affordable to you ? :) )

    Quote:
    Out of curiosity why were so many of the gaming tests only done at 2560x1440? Seems like you would be more GPU bound at this resolution. I'm not sure it really matters but I do like gaming at 1080p for the very high frame rates was curious if these would push frame rates higher. Otherwise nice review.



    Though you have a point here, the guy buying such CPUs most likely will game at above 1080p .. but this would have implied using 2 GPUs at least in the test.
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    dovah-chan , August 29, 2014 9:08 AM
    Oh boy here we go...
  • 0 Hide
    B4vB5 , August 29, 2014 9:23 AM
    Chris and Igor @ TomsHW,

    Bit disappointed to not see a comparison with the Xeon E5-1650v2(or 1660v2), as the 2600 is a bit overkill comparing prices. Some of us just need a workstation with ECC ram and not just a free-for-all(ie someone else is paying) Xeon 2600 fest.
  • 18 Hide
    JamesSneed , August 29, 2014 9:26 AM
    Out of curiosity why were so many of the gaming tests only done at 2560x1440? Seems like you would be more GPU bound at this resolution. I'm not sure it really matters but I do like gaming at 1080p for the very high frame rates was curious if these would push frame rates higher. Otherwise nice review.
  • 13 Hide
    ohim , August 29, 2014 9:27 AM
    Quote:
    Affordable 8-cores from Intel are finally coming. Awesome.


    1000$ is affordable to you ? :) )

    Quote:
    Out of curiosity why were so many of the gaming tests only done at 2560x1440? Seems like you would be more GPU bound at this resolution. I'm not sure it really matters but I do like gaming at 1080p for the very high frame rates was curious if these would push frame rates higher. Otherwise nice review.



    Though you have a point here, the guy buying such CPUs most likely will game at above 1080p .. but this would have implied using 2 GPUs at least in the test.
  • -1 Hide
    chiefpiggy , August 29, 2014 9:37 AM
    Why do they call these their "5th generation" of Intel core processors if they're refreshes of the Haswell processors? I get that they have revolutionary technology within but with the release of broadwell so soon I doubt that anyone would buy these processors..
  • -5 Hide
    envy14tpe , August 29, 2014 9:40 AM
    I need this system to play Minecraft. with that aside, Intel finally has made a jump in i7s value and performance.
  • 4 Hide
    therogerwilco , August 29, 2014 9:44 AM
    Meh, looks like I'll be keepin my uber delid'd oc'd 4770k a bit longer
  • 5 Hide
    srap , August 29, 2014 9:53 AM
    "Single-threaded software is so last decade, though."
    I have a hunch that we will never see anything like this in the comment sections of AMD reviews. Not sure why :D 
  • 23 Hide
    CaptainTom , August 29, 2014 9:57 AM
    Yeah the real winner of a cpu here is definitely the 5820K. If I were building now, that is what I would use.
  • 7 Hide
    ingtar33 , August 29, 2014 10:01 AM
    so that 8 core monster pretty much caps out around 4.3-4.5ghz... shame. if it was a little higher i might be inclined to open the pocket book for that.
  • 4 Hide
    mctylr , August 29, 2014 10:09 AM
    From page 14, last paragraph:
    Quote:
    As Intel’s first official eight-core processor, the top Haswell-E model


    Er, no. No it's not the first eight core processor. It is the first eight-core consumer or Core iN series processor though.

    I also don't know of any unofficial 8-core processors either.
  • 4 Hide
    DoDidDont , August 29, 2014 10:14 AM
    Great news for people wanting to speed up their single socket systems in apps like Mental Ray, v-ray etc. I understand why Tom’s compared these new processors with the E5-2687w v2 in this review, but anyone splashing the cash on an E5-2687w v2 is going to buy two in a dual socket set-up making the system twice as fast as the top end 5960x in the majority of these benchmarks. It would be a waste of cash just buying one for a single socket system and not taking advantage of the QPI. For business users needing to produces multiple HQ images a day to meet deadlines I would still choose the Xeon’s over the I7. The Xeon’s pay for themselves within a few months. Waiting 48 hours for a batch of animation frames to render instead of 96 hours make a lot of difference.
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , August 29, 2014 10:18 AM
    Not really any significant CPU change from the SB-E or IB-E. The big changes come from the platform, and the x99 has the same interface as the x79. Technically, the x99 could support a SB-E processor, if Intel would let it. Again, I'm held back from making a change because Intel decided to force a CPU upgrade to make a technology upgrade cost $1500 instead of only about $400. I'll have to stick with my x79 for a while longer. It is just not worth the cost.
  • 1 Hide
    dovah-chan , August 29, 2014 10:19 AM
    Quote:
    Were you disappointed by last year's Ivy Bridge-E launch? Core i7-5960X, -5930K, and -5820K promise more excitement, sporting up to eight cores, DDR4 memory, a new X99 chipset, and an LGA 2011-3 interface. Should you jump to upgrade, though?

    Intel Core i7-5960X, -5930K, And -5820K CPU Review: Haswell-E Rises : Read more


    I was wondering how often you writers read the comments? Just wondering.
  • 5 Hide
    pierrerock , August 29, 2014 10:31 AM

    Gee. DDR4 save about 5 W with 4 modules. And i was worried of pwer consumption when i overclocked my FX 8350 at 4.7 GHz :o 
  • 5 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , August 29, 2014 10:39 AM
    Quote:
    Yeah the real winner of a cpu here is definitely the 5820K. If I were building now, that is what I would use.

    Ya, the 5820K really stands out, especially in comparison to Intel's previous lowest SKU processors on X79. For the first time the x820 actually looks like a great option to go with. It's the same as a 3960X in clock speed and core count, except it's Haswell which seems to result in a 10-15% performance boost, and it's over $600 cheaper. The only drawback might be if you have a lot of high bandwidth PCIe cards, but I doubt that'll be an issue for most enthusiasts.

    And omg that price:
    http://www.microcenter.com/product/437203/Intel_Core_i7-5820k_33_GHz_LGA_2011_V3_Tray_Processor

    ... I love Microcenter.
  • 2 Hide
    maroon1 , August 29, 2014 10:41 AM
    Quote:
    Not really any significant CPU change from the SB-E or IB-E. .


    THe improvement in multi-threaded workloads are good. It is the biggest improvement per generation we have seen since gulftown
  • 0 Hide
    Pavel Pokidaylo , August 29, 2014 10:45 AM
    Um I'm a total noob. Can someone tell me approximately how much of an increase in performance I'd see using any of these over my i5 4670k? My CPU is not overclocked.
    I'm running a 780 ti and Gskill Ripjaw 1600 RAM.
  • 1 Hide
    Champion_hero , August 29, 2014 10:46 AM
    Hmm so for gaming, we're looking at either the 5820 or 4690..

    How would the cost of said systems compare, assuming we could create them as equal as possible? Would the performance benefits of the 5820 justify the additional cost?

    I'm still running on my old x58 i7 920, but it's starting to BSOD on CPU intensive games (although I suspect its my mobo that's the issue)...

    I wanted to build a new system this year, but don't want to make the same mistake I did with the x58 and be left with something that simply can't be upgraded after a year or so. At the same time, I don't want to buy into old tech if that too won't last..

    I have had a good run with my x58 mind, but am wary Intel may do what they did with my Gen 1 i7, and change something fundamental with the platform/DDR4 to mean I'll be 'stuck' with whatever I buy now...
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