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Sandy Bridge-E: Core i7-3960X Is Fast, But Is It Any More Efficient?

Test Setup And Benchmarks

LGA 2011 Platform
LGA 2011 PlatformIntel DX79SI, Chipset: Intel X79 Express
LGA2011 ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (32 nm, Sandy Bridge-E), 6C/12T, 3.3 GHz, 6 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, 130 W TDP, 3.9 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Socket AM3+ Platform
Socket AM3+ PlatformAsus Crosshair Formula V (Rev. 1.0), Chipset: AMD 990FX, BIOS: 9905 (2011-10-03)
AM3 ProcessorsAMD Phenom II X4 980 (45 nm, Deneb, C3), 4C/4T, 3.7 GHz, 4 x 512 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, 126 W TDPAMD Phenom II X6 1100T (45 nm, Thuban, E0), 6C/6T, 3.3 GHz, 6 x 512 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, 126 W TDP, 3.7 GHz max. Turbo Core
AM3+ ProcessorsAMD FX-8150 (32 nm, Zambezi), 8C/8T, 3.6 GHz, 8 MB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 125 W TDP, 3.9 GHz Turbo Core, 4.2 GHz max. Turbo Core
LGA 1156 Platform
LGA 1156 PlatformGigabyte P55A-UD7, Chipset: Intel P55 Express, BIOS: F8b
LGA 1156 ProcessorsIntel Core i7-870 (45 nm, Lynnfield, B1), 4C/8T, 2.93 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 95 W TDP, 3.6 GHz max. Turbo BoostIntel Core i5-750 (45 nm, Lynnfield, B1), 4C/4T, 2.66 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 95 W TDP, 3.2 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Socket LGA 1155 Platform
LGA 1155 PlatformIntel DP67BG, Chipset: Intel P67 Express, BIOS: 2040
LGA 1156 ProcessorsIntel Core i7-2600K (32 nm, Sandy Bridge, D2), 4C/8T, 3.4 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, w/ HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP, 3.8 GHz max. Turbo BoostIntel Core i5-2500K (32 nm, Sandy Bridge, D2), 4C/4T, 3.3 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache w/ HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP, 3.7 GHz max. Turbo Boost
LGA 1366 Platform
LGA 1366 PlatformMSI BigBang-Xpower, Chipset: Intel X58 Express, BIOS: 1.2
LGA 1366 ProcessorsIntel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition (45 nm, Bloomfield, D0), 4C/8T, 3.33 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 130 W TDP, 3.6 GHz max. Turbo BoostIntel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition (32 nm, Gulftown, B1), 6C/12T, 3.33 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 130 W TDP, 3.6 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Common Platform Components
Dual DDR3 Memory2 x 4 GB DDR3-1333, Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX
Discrete GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 6850, GPU: Cypress (775 MHz), Graphics RAM: 1024 MB GDDR5 (2000 MHz), Stream Processors: 960
System DriveSamsung PM810, 256 GB, SATA 3 Gb/s
Power SupplySeasonic X-760, SS-760KM Aktive PFC F3
System Software & Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Drivers and Settings
ATI Radeon DriversAMD Catalyst 11.8 Suite for Windows 7
Intel Chipset DriversChipset Installation Utility Ver. 9.2.3.1022
Intel Rapid StorageVer: 10.6.0.1002

Benchmarks and Settings

Audio Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
iTunesVersion: 10.4.1.10 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: 0.95 Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English to Video: AVC1 Audio1: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2.2Version: 2.2.0.5440 MPEG2 to H.264 MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2) Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2-Channel, 16 Bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS) Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
BenchmarkDetails
7-ZipVersion 9.22 beta LZMA2 Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5" Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinRARVersion 4.01 RAR Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 15.5 ProVersion 14.0 Pro (8652) WinZip Commandline Version 3 ZIPX Syntax "-a -ez -p -r" Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Autodesk 3d Studio Max 2012Version: 10 x64 Rendering Space Flyby Mentalray (SPECapc_3dsmax9) Frame: 248 Resolution: 1440 x 1080
Adobe After Effects CS5.5Create Video which includes 3 Streams Frames: 210 Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 (64-Bit)Version: 11 Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15000x7266) 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)
Adobe Acrobat X ProfessionalVersion: 10.0.0 == Printing Preferenced Menu == Default Settings: Standard == Adobe PDF Security - Edit Menu == Encrypt all documents (128 bit RC4) Open Password: 123 Permissions Password: 321
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010Version: 2007 SP2 PPT to PDF Powerpoint Document (115 Pages) Adobe PDF-Printer
BlenderVersion: 2.59 beta Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1 Resolution: 1920x1080 Anti-Aliasing: 8x Render: THG.blend frame 1
MatlabR2011a Internal Benchmark: 10 runs

We also ran the efficiency test's applications in the following order:
 

Single-Threaded:

Adobe Acrobat 
WinZip 
iTunes 
Lame

Multi-Threaded:

3ds Max
Blender
HandBrake 
MainConcept
After Effects
Photoshop
Premiere
Matlab
7-Zip

  • fstrthnu
    Aand yet more evidence that most people looking for a high-end processor will be perfectly fine with the i5-2500K or the 2600K
    Reply
  • sam_fisher
    fstrthnuAand yet more evidence that most people looking for a high-end processor will be perfectly fine with the i5-2500K or the 2600K
    I guess it just depends on what you're doing. If you have a high end workstation and are using programs that are going to utilise all 12 threads, quad channel memory and 40 lanes of PCIe, and you need that processing power then it's probably not a bad investment. Whereas for most users the 2500K or the 2600K will do fine.
    Reply
  • benikens
    Ironically, when it comes to performance, Intel’s Core i7-9360X is the real Bulldozer. Since its power consumption levels are lower than the Gulftown-based Core i7, it should also deliver amazing performance per watt as well. Is that really the case?

    It's i7-3960x, not i7-9360x
    Reply
  • pwnorbpwnd
    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the 6850 a Barts card? Unless I am wrong but I own a 6850.
    Reply
  • one-shot
    There is a small typo on Page 9

    "Total power used drops again relative to Cor ei7-3960X's predecessor, the Core i7-980X (Gulftown)."
    Reply
  • Shape
    Ironically, when it comes to performance, Intel’s Core i7-9360X is the real Bulldozer.


    ROFL!!! Very well said!

    Nice!
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    another informative, in-depth article about efficiency. great work guys!
    3960x might very well be the $1k cpu that's worth the (over)price unlike the older 980x.
    sb-e shows that both single threaded and multi threaded performance as well as efficient power use can be ahcieved by a 32nm, 6 core, 130 tdp cpu (but you gotta pay a lot for that).
    when you bring price into the equation, quad core sb i5 and i7(95w tdp) are the best way to go (i wonder how an i7 2700k fare if it was tested alongside these cpus).
    Reply
  • agnickolov
    And I was so hoping Visual C++ had made it into the regular benchmark set. Sadly, it's missing here...
    Reply
  • giovanni86
    Looking forward to seeing what type of Air/liquid cooled Overclocks can be achieved with these newly released processors.
    Reply
  • I wanna know how it performs on DAW apps. I hope it will be included in future benchmarks.
    Reply