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Intel Core i7-3930K And Core i7-3820: Sandy Bridge-E, Cheaper

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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
ProcessorsIntel 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
MotherboardIntel 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
MemoryCrucial 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 DriveIntel SSD 510 250 GB, SATA 6 Gb/s
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 280.26Nvidia GeForce Release 285.62 for all SLI testing
3D Game Benchmarks And Settings
BenchmarkDetails
Crysis 2Game 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 3Game 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: CataclysmGame 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: 0.95Video: 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 v2.2Version: 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-ZipVersion 9.20 (x64)LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5Paladin Sequence to H.264 Blu-rayOutput 1920x1080, Maximum Quality, Mercury Playback Engine: Hardware Mode
Adobe After Effects CS 5.5Create Video which includes 3 StreamsFrames: 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 2012Render Space Flyby, 1440x1080, from Y: RAM Drive
Adobe Acrobat X ProfessionalPDF Document Creation (Print) from Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
SolidWorks 2010PhotoView 360, 01-Lighter Explode.SLDASM Benchmark File, 1920x1080 Render, 1.44 Million Polygons, 256 AA Samples
Visual Studio 2010Miranda IM Compile, Scripted
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4
3DMark 11Version 1.0.2
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version: 17.80 Processor Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth, .NET Arithmetic, .NET Multimedia
  • compton
    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.
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    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 .
    Reply
  • Dacatak
    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".
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    For gaming (the high end CPU intensive), is there any noticeable difference between the 2500k and the 3960X?
    Reply
  • Dacatak
    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.
    Reply
  • spunkyddog
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    spunky,

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

    Dacatak,

    Yup, typo--fixing now!
    Reply
  • sna
    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
    Reply
  • soccerdocks
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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. :)
    Reply