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

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Aug 29, 2006
[citation][nom]sam_fisher[/nom]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.[/citation]

True... I was looking to build a gaming PC with an I7, but after reading this? I'm going with an I5 based processor.

Since the main bottleneck in PC gaming today are the graphics cards? Better to save money for a beefier graphics card.


Jan 22, 2007
[citation][nom]masterofevil22[/nom]... (i5 not enough cores/threads for my needs, even at high clocks), but even they are pretty pricey. I Still say that for $150 bucks you can't beat a 1055t at 4ghz+. ...[/citation]

The i5 760 is an interesting alternative. At the same 4.0 oc, it's on a par with the 1055T but uses a
lot less power. Since the 760 doesn't have HT, it can also be oc'd a lot higher which often gives
it an edge over with-HT options at a lower clock (eg. the 870; depends on the app though). A 760
can be oc'd to 4.4 with a decent cooler. See:

For a solely stock speed comparison:

The cost of a used 760 + good cooler is less than a 1055T; end result is similar performance
for less power consumption. P55 is an older platform, but it's no slouch and can easily outpeform
later models once oc'd (depending on the task) which is a big plus given the 1155 chips which
can't be oc'd, and it's surprising what one can build with used parts. Some always want to buy
new of course, but for those on a budget it's something worth considering.


PS. My oc'd 870 matches a stock 980X for Handbrake. :D (identical time)



Jan 22, 2007
[citation][nom]secretxax[/nom]I get what you're saying, BUT, all I was doing was comparing the "best" desktop CPUs (hence me labeling the CPUs for enthusiasts), scecs-wise, with their prices, to show how much of a better deal the listed CPUs were, in each class of enthusiast CPUs.___"Most people like apples, although I prefer oranges" -secretxax[/citation]

My point is, your comparison is only valid if that benchmark matches the task which one will be
running. The reference you used doesn't explain what kind of task that benchmark most closely
represents (threaded vs. non-threaded, etc.) so as a metric upon which one can base a purchasing
decision it is IMO completely useless.

That's why I said the best benchmark to use is the actual application one will be using, or a test
which is as similar as possible. Relying on synthetic suites like PassMark can lead to completely
incorrect conclusions, depending on what you're doing.

Check it yourself, pick a test, look up the comparison on Anandtech's Bench, check how it compares
to the implication on the PassMark table. Some tests will match, some will be wildly on the low side,
others very much on the high side. Point is, you just cannot tell.

It's a bit like people who relied on 3DMark06 overall scores to choose their GPU - completely dumb,
that suite is very skewed by CPU power.


i7-3960x is a $450-$550 processor being sold for $1000 and not worth that much in any way if you consider the many better alternatives in its performance range fulfilled by dual/quad CPU boards. You would be much better off with several cheaper Xeons/Opterons that would have a greater price/performance ratio. The dual CPU boards also happen to support more features important in many/most high performance markets such as ECC RAM.


Jan 22, 2007
I entirely agree. Why is it so expensive? Because it's the fastest CPU available and there is a market for people
who want the best, no matter what the cost. I know, strange, but it's true. It varies very much by location, but
in some parts of the world the market for enthusiast-grade PC components is very strong. Me, I'm a budget freak
(which is odd given my SGI leanings), so I hunt bargains on eBay. :D (delighted to bag an i7 875K for 102 UKP
back in June, hehe)

Intel no doubt prices their top-end consumer chip based on what they think it'll comfortably sell for (in terms
of unit quantities, etc.) given their past experience with equivalent top-end CPUs like the QX9650, i7 980X, etc.,
current demand, and so on. If sales don't match expectations (entirely possible in the current economic climate)
then they'll no doubt drop the price. Or as others have pointed out, if there was suitable competition, atm sadly
lacking (why oh why AMD didn't ye just shrink Ph2 6-core, add 2 cores, increase the cache and tweak things a bit...
*sigh*), then they'd drop the price for that reason too.

Bang for buck, depending on the task, other options are obviously very attractive. Everyone comes at this from
their own point of view and as always it depends strongly on the task at hand. I talk to people who approach this
from both ends of the spectrum, so I hear a wide range of opinions, eg. consumer voices tend to exclude tasks which
demand extreme I/O, but that area is critical for other users (eg. Flame, high-end studio rendering, ANSYS, etc.)

My main area of expertise is SGIs; on the relevant forums when people moan about eBay prices, etc., I've often said
that, "an item is only ever worth what someone is willing to pay." What would you think the value is of a 12MHz
Personal IRIS dating from 1989 is? ('high spec' with 32MB RAM, 36GB 15K disk, 40X SCSI CDROM, 150MB tape unit, etc.)
Even in the realm of SGIs, it's hideously slow for running the last OS version it supports, but I sold one for an
astonishing 1200 UKP to a company in the US (they're still used for various industrial applications); an extreme
example, but PC hw is no different. There are people with money to burn, they want the best no matter what, they can
afford it, so Intel prices the options to match. Would be nice to live life like that (maybe) but most of us of
course do not, we care at least to some degree about price/performance. This is why I ended up being so intrigued by
oc'd P55 solutions, they are surprisingly good at very low cost.

I doubt I'll bother with a P67, Z68 or X79 setup though; three whole chipset updates and it still doesn't really offer
anything decent above & beyond a 990X which I managed to bag for a good price. However, if Intel released an 8-core...
well, that could be a game-changer, but the thing is, they don't need to for the consumer market (compare this to the
server market where Intel is already shipping 10-core chips). This behaviour occurs in numerous areas of technology -
scheduled advances are based more on competitive risk than what a company is actually capable of producing (Intel
could easily release a stock 4+GHz 4-core chip atm, but they won't as there's simply no need).

Dear Warren Buffet, setup a new chip company and design a decent competitor product so we can have healthy competition
once again. :D




"...and the latest socket 2011 – ironically released in the year 2011."
Should be:
"...and the latest socket 2011 – coincidentally released in the year 2011."
Incorrect use of irony.
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