Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K


Sometimes, being #1 can be overrated—and overpriced. Witness Intel’s present flagship, the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, a gleaming slab of LGA 2011 awesomeness that, with a 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost ceiling, sets you back $1050 on Newegg. We have to wonder, is there some arbitrary margin Intel feels compelled to make on its top-end chips that now requires a $1050 price instead of the traditional $999.99? The extra $50 almost feels like you’re tipping the company for drink refills. Anyway. Why worry about that at all when you can opt for the $600 more sensible #2 offering, the Core i7-3930K?

Ignore the fact that our model is holding the Extreme Edition's box. It's the only one we could get our hands on prior to buying our own Core i7-3930K for Intel Core i7-3930K And Core i7-3820: Sandy Bridge-E, Cheaper.

With the second-place chip, you give up only 100 MHz in both the standard and peak Turbo Boost modes. It still features six physical cores, a 130 W TDP, LGA 2011, a 32 nm fab process, and a quad-channel DDR3-1600 memory architecture. Naturally, neither of these Sandy Bridge-E-based chips include integrated graphics, but you do get 40 lanes of third-generation PCI Express connectivity to which you can attach a ton of discrete graphics muscle. One spot in which the -3930K takes a slight hit is in its use of 12 MB of shared L3 cache, as opposed to the -3960X’s 15 MB. But check out the benchmarks in the story linked above; the cache deficit really doesn't hurt that badly.

The -3930K is an unlocked monster. Do you really care that the chip is a 3.2 GHz part instead of 3.3 GHz, when you can set it at 4.-something GHz and not even break a sweat? No. Quite honestly, the -3960X is either a vanity purchase or the domain of a professional workstation user unwilling to overclock for fear of instability. We’re quite content to get most of the flagship’s speed plus all of the expected extras (Hyper-Threading, VT-x and VT-d, AES-NI, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep, and more) for nearly half the price.

  • gerohmygosh
    Where is the girl for the PNY RAM?!?!?!
  • wizloa
    i clicked for the lady
  • phamhlam
    What is your favorite picture?

    Mine was the one with the 4 SSD.
    My floppy disk totally turned to a hard disk drive.

    I can't wait for part 2 already.
  • serhat359
    I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
  • HansVonOhain
    Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
  • phamhlam
    What is hotter? The computer parts or the girl?
  • richboyliang
    haha do these girls know what they're doing?
  • koolkat574
    richboylianghaha do these girls know what they're doing?
    Depends on if you use an aftermarket cooler or the stock one
  • manu 11
    For one second, my focus was deviated, back to pc!
  • lunyone
    It looks like the Blonde model was having more fun, or is it just me. If I wasn't married, I'd take either! Forget the PC hardware, there are more important things to look at!!! Lol!