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Core i7-3970X Extreme Review: Can It Stomp An Eight-Core Xeon?

Benchmark Results: PCMark 7

Thanks to its higher clock rate, the Core i7-3970X stands up to Intel’s Core i7-3770K in PCMark’s overall suite score. From experience, we know that several components of this synthetic test are really only able to tax four cores effectively. So, the Sandy Bridge-E-based chip’s extra resources are underutilized, while the more mainstream CPU’s Ivy Bridge architecture gives it an advantage.

The big, expensive Xeon can’t reach quite as high, its Turbo Boost implementation limited to 3.8 GHz. This eight-core processor goes largely unused, forcing it into fourth place.

The same combination of variables is exacerbated in PCMark’s Productivity suite. Three Ivy Bridge-based chips huddle at the top, followed by five variations of Sandy Bridge-based hardware. Four AMD processors bring up the rear, unable to achieve the performance per clock cycle needed to compete.

Parallelism is rewarded in PCMark’s Creativity sub-routine, and Intel’s Core i7-3970X grabs a first-place finish. Why doesn’t the eight-core Xeon get that honor? Presumably, a higher clock rate under full load gives the six-core CPU an advantage over the eight-core model running slower.

The same goes for the Entertainment test, where both the Core i7-3970X and -3960X outmaneuver Intel’s Xeon E5-2687W.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.