Intel i7-4960X Extreme Edition – Ivy Bridge Goes Extreme to Save the Day?

Test Setup

Test Setup

The motherboard we have chosen is the new ASUS X79-Deluxe motherboard. It features a range of high-end features like additional SATA 6Gbps controllers in order to supplement the official supported pair of SATA 6Gbps ones, courtesy of the Intel X79 chipset. There is also a ASUS Wi-Fi GO! onboard with a bundled 2T2R dual-band Wi-Fi antenna (which is identical to those bundled in some of the more recent boards like the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme).

 The ASUS X79-Deluxe motherboard.

Since DDR3-1866 memory modules are officially supported, we decided to use the four 4GB DDR3-2133 memory modules from the Crucial Ballistix Elite series for a total of 16GB system memory (but run at DDR3-1866). The cooling solution is provided by the Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC, a closed liquid cooling system. For comparisons, we tested two Sandy Bridge-E processors; they are the Intel Core i7-3960X and Core i7-3970X with the memory modules clocked at DDR3-1866 a well (higher than the official DDR3-1600) to minimize differences in the comparisons and see what impact the updated Core microarchitecture has in store for the Extreme processor series.

Our full test setup for all the platforms are as follows:-

Test Configuration

  • ASUS X79-Deluxe (Intel X79 Express chipset), BIOS version 0253
  • 4 x 4GB Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR3-2133 (Ran at DDR3-1866, Auto timings: CAS 9-9-9-24)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660Ti (ForceWare 320.18)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
  • Intel INF

 We used a MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC graphics card and downclocked its GPU in order to emulate a stock NVIDIAGTX 660Ti card. The only reason we're using a mid-range GPU is to see what a high speed processor can do to elevate typical game performance when the GPU is overloaded - in essence, we're isolating everything possible to determine the noteworthiness of the main processing platform.


The following benchmarks were used to test the CPUs:

  • Futuremark 3DMark (2013)
  • SPECviewperf 11
  • Lightwave 3D 11.5 (64-bit)
  • Cinebench 11.5 (64-bit)
  • Handbrake 0.9.9
  • Tomb Raider
The Good
Fastest 6-core processor
Updated overclocking architecture
The Bad
Limited gains over Sandy Bridge-E CPUs
Little improvement in power consumption

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