iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Intel Core i7-3930K, Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Processors for LGA 2011

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Video encoding

In this group of benchmarks six cores used to be faster than four. However, architectural advantages played a role, too. Well, SB-E has both six cores and new architecture hence the results. Despite lower clock rate, as we remember.

Office suites

Of these applications only FineReader supports multi-threading, but even that is enough for multi-core CPUs to win. Anyway, these applications work fine with much slower CPUs, so this diagram is purely illustrative.


Java Machine, as we all know, can utilize more than 12 threads, and it also favors physical core over Hyper-Threading. Because of this, Core i7-990X used to outperform Core i7-2600 here considerably. Now it lags behind Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3690 in a similar way.


All our test subjects are way too powerful for games, so you'll need a microscope to find a difference. But at least LGA 2011 supports more PCIe lanes to help you with multi-GPU. There might be some differences in those modes. Still, gaming in general is not yet ready for hexacore processors, so let's just be happy that they don't yield to quad-core solutions in this area of application.

Multitasking environment

This is one of our experimental tests, especially as the SB-E processors we have today differ in terms of cache. Let's see if this has any effect. The idea of the test is simple: five benchmarks are run one after another in 15-second intervals; all tasks are sent to background (none of their windows is active). The result is a geometrical mean of completion times.

It's interesting how larger cache hinders performance. And the difference between the new and old architecture is minor. In other words, raw power still remains a good way to solve problems in multitasking environment. We're talking about the high-end segment, of course. Lower-end products introduce certain nuances.

Overall score and final thoughts

Evolution is good, because it gives everyone something to be happy about. If you simply like technical progress, you'll note that new processors outperform the old ones, both Core i7-2000 and Core i7-900 at that. If you have already purchased one of those, you'll be happy to know that older processors do not lose that much and your purchase is justified. If you couldn't decide between a Core i7-2600K or Core i7-980, you can now buy a Core i7-3930K — the choice is clear now. If you wanted a Core i7-990X but could only afford Core i7-980, you'll be pleased to know there's a new model that performs like the former and costs like the latter. If you're a true enthusiast and have always preferred Intel's extreme CPUs, you'll be glad to know that the offered series update is even more significant that a move from 975 to 980. If you like AMD processors, you can still be happy to be able to buy an affordable hexacore CPU while Intel multi-core products remain very expensive. At the very least, we all can be happy that LGA 2011 has a humane and reasonable cooler mount, unlike LGA 775 (and later LGA 1366 and LGA 1156/1155). See, it's good whichever side you look at.

Jokes aside, we have a good example of evolution. LGA 2011 combines the advantages of LGA 1155 (new architecture, unlocked multiplier at less than $1000) and LGA 1366 (up to six cores, bus overclocking, a lot of PCIe lanes).

Some disadvantages have been inherited too, though. The lack of built-in USB 3.0 support, for example. But if Intel gives us everything it has now, they won't have anything to promise for the next year. Same with clock rates. I believe they could've thrown in extra 200 MHz or so, but preferred to reserve that for future updates.

On the whole, the new platform is a success. If you're willing to buy a processor for the price of an entire PC, that is. But we still like this kind of evolution very much.

We thank Corsair, G.Skill and Palit for providing PC parts for our testbeds.

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Page 3: Tests cont'd, final thoughts

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