Intel officially announced the Core i7 3960X and 3930K, two new unlocked LGA2011 six-core, twelve-threaded processors with a TDP of 130W and quad-channel DDR3-1600 support. The 3960X is the new top dog with a base clock of 3.3GHz and a 3.9GHz Turbo, while the 3930K clocks in at 3.2GHz with a 3.8GHz Turbo. Pricing of these two chips is $990 and $555, respectively, in 1,000 unit quantities.
A lot of details about Sandy Bridge-E were leaked over the last weeks and months but today Intel lifts the NDA so we finally get some real indicators of how well this new ultra-high-end processor series performs.
Our first stop is The Tech Report, they say the 3960X is clearly the fastest x86 desktop processor ever. The chip has a solid lead over the Core i7-990X and the site notes that it's also quite well in power efficiency, the reviewer points out that the CPU's power consumption is relatively tame for a chip of this class. If money is no problem it's a great processor, but the $999 price tag skews up the value ratio quite a bit.
We're duly impressed by the overall potential of the Sandy Bridge-E platform, which is unlike anything else that's come before; it's as if Intel crammed a dual-socket workstation into a single socket. For the PC enthusiast, this is truly lust-worthy computer hardware. However, there are still some negatives to the platform that we can't overlook, mostly related to the fact that this product introduction feels strangely rushed in some ways. The state of the motherboards is unusually messy for a notable Intel platform launch, with major-brand boards and fairly critical firmware fixes still trickling into our labs at the eleventh hour. The X79 chipset's relatively modest SATA capabilities and initial lack of SSD caching only add to that impression. Although it's not really Intel's fault, the PCIe 3.0 situation also feels unfortunate. Finally, as we've noted, we wonder whether the typical buyer of a thousand-dollar CPU and a $300-plus motherboard will welcome the fact that his CPU has two of its cores and 25% of its last-level cache lobotomized. There's a certain psychology involved in buying the best, and we're not sure it's compatible with Intel's decision to nix those bits of the chip.
Anand over at AnandTech writes the vast majority of desktop PC users will have no need for Sandy Bridge-E, but for those who do need a chip that can handle heavily threaded workloads this processor won't disappoint.
There are no surprises there, we came to the same conclusion when we reviewed Intel's first 6-core CPU last year. If you do happen to have a heavily threaded workload that needs the absolute best performance, the Core i7 3960X can deliver. In our most thread heavy tests the 3960X had no problems outpacing the Core i7 2600K by over 50%. If your livelihood depends on it, the 3960X is worth its entry fee. I suspect for those same workloads, the 3930K will be a good balance of price/performance despite having a smaller L3 cache.
A third opinion comes from Legit Reviews, they concludes the Core i7-3960X does a great job of showing how far ahead Intel is in terms of processor performance. The reviewer points out AMD's new Bulldozer architecture doesn't stand a chance against Sandy Bridge-E.
The Intel X79 platform for socket LGA2011 processors proved that it is clearly the new enthusiast desktop platform for Intel. The Intel Core i7-3960X processor did a great job of showing just how far ahead Intel is when it comes to processor performance. AMD's new 'Bulldozer' processor series doesn't stand a chance against Intel's new 'Sandy Bridge-E' processors. The Intel Core i7-3960X is hands down the fastest processor that we have ever tested and used before. It is without a doubt the exotic super car of processors and with it's commanding $990 suggested retail price it reserved for the select few that are willing to pay to have the best money can buy.