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Intel Core i7-4960X Review: Ivy Bridge-E, Benchmarked

Results: Adobe CS6

We use two distinct Photoshop benchmarks, one of which fully taxes each processor’s x86 cores using well-threaded filters, and another that is OpenCL-optimized to leverage graphics resources. Don’t compare the black and red bars above—they’re only together to save space (and your scrolling finger).

Core i7-4960X pretty much ties the Sandy Bridge-E-based -3970X in our CPU-based metric. You'd assume that Ivy Bridge-E would have an advantage, right? It turns out that we also discovered that Core i7-3770K wasn't any faster than -2700K in this test more than a year ago. On the other hand, all of Intel’s six-core CPUs outmaneuver the company’s quad-core offerings.

The OpenCL-accelerated metric is less consistent, seeming to favor architecture over core count or clock rate. For instance, the Haswell-based Core i7-4770K places first, followed by the Ivy Bridge-based Core i7-3770K and -4960X. Four- and six-core Sandy Bridge-based processors group up in a third clump, while AMD’s CPUs fall pretty far back.

The architectural benefit of adopting Ivy Bridge helps Intel’s Core i7-4960X claim a first-place finish, though nobody’s going to upgrade from Sandy Bridge-E for a 5% speed-up. A more demanding render project might create a larger delta between CPUs, and we’re working on sourcing a real-world project to test this theory.

After Effects is a special case where adding cores doesn’t always help performance as the available memory per core shrinks. That’s why you see the Core i7-3970X and -3930K in the middle of the chart. Between its 16 GB of DDR3-1600 and the Ivy Bridge architecture, though, Intel’s Core i7-4960X manages to tie the first-place -4770K.

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.