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Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition - Sandy Bridge-E has Arrived

By Wong Chung Wee & Vijay Anand - 14 Nov 2011

Results - Lightwave 3D 9.0

Results - Lightwave 3D 9.0

In this rendering benchmark, we first set ran the dual and then quad-threaded workloads to render the Tracer-Radiosity scene. The Core i7-3960X came out over 20% speedier than the old Core i7-980X hex-core processor from the perspective of clock for clock improvement. However it's only marginally better than the existing mainstream Sandy Bridge processors. A similar outcome was noticed in the slightly less taxing Sunset render scene.

When focusing on the 8-threaded workload setting, we again noted the Core i7-3960X registering nearly a 20% increment over the older hex-core processor. The mainstream Core i5-2500K and i7-2600K both managed to come close to what the second generation Core i7 can achieve, but the latter still held a slight lead (sometimes up to 10%). Using faster memory at 1600MHz hardly mattered in these rendering tasks as the memory bandwidth was clearly not an issue and it's more of the processor's own raw horsepower to crunch through the workloads.

We should expect to see better performance and increased productivity as future software upgrades allow content creation applications to take full advantage the Sandy Bridge-E architecture. Notice we didn't mention anything about the AMD platform as it's far from competing; in fact, the new FX-8150 is less attractive than the old Phenom II X6 processor here. This might be the result of the new execution architecture introduced.


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  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 7
The Good
Great performance for those who can wield its power
Easy to overclock
Frugal power consumption
Integrated 40-lane PCIe controller with Gen 3 support
The Bad
Very expensive
No bundled cooler
Quad-channel memory architecture offers little advantage to enthusiasts
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