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Intel Core i7 5960X Extreme Edition Review

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Intel Core i7 5960X Extreme Edition Conclusion:

It's good to finally have Intel refresh the Extreme line up and take that step up to an eight core processor to do it. There are distributed computing crunchers just salivating at the performance potential that comes along with the added four threads that can be brought to bare in their crunching farms. But alas that's not the only place you are likely to see massive performance gains. When it comes to content creation and video editing, the Core i7 5960X is going to deliver that next level of performance when it is able to fully utilize all of its cores simultaneously. In my testing I found that when utilized, the eight core 5960X is by far the fastest solution when compared to a Core i7 4960X, Intel's Haswell quad core mainstream offerings, and the best that AMD currently has to offer. When it cannot utilize all that core compute power and run in single thread mode it is hampered by the low clock speed, and does not deliver the impact that I see when pushing all eight cores; this is pretty much the expected outcome.

You would think overclocking eight cores would prove that much more difficult with the challenges we faced on the Core i7 4770K with the wide range of clock speeds that could be run with stability. Intel seems to have taken that to heart, at least with this sample (retail chips may vary), as it was able to reach 4.6GHz  using 1.31v without much trouble at all using a basic liquid cooling loop. It was used to ensure that temperatures did not get out of check as we have seen with Haswell chips when pushed with a bit too much voltage. Under load I was seeing temperatures that maxed out at 88 °C under load on the hottest core; a sure sign that the interface between the DIE and IHS is much improved and most likely soldered, as some early looks displayed.

Memory overclocking is just as robust as the mainstream Haswell variants, with speeds over 3000MHz easy enough to achieve if you have modules capable of it. The introduction of DDR4 with the X99 chipset brings a new dynamic to the table with the modules running 1.05 to 1.2v with timings that are on the loose side. However, the massive amount of bandwidth is going to create an advantage, even if latency takes a hit.

Using this platform as a high end gaming machine will really only pay dividends over the mainstream offerings when used with multiple GPUs that can take advantage of up to 24 more available PCIe 3.0 lanes. Running a single discrete card at 1920x1080 with modest settings means the benefit of the gratuitous PCIe lane count is just not there, although on the flip side you still have plenty of expansion capabilities for some killer PCIe-based storage solutions.

Over the years the $999 price point has been one that Intel has maintained while delivering incrementally more performance each year for the same dollar figure. If running the latest and greatest hardware out there is important, then you know what the ultimate hit to the check book will be knowing full well you will see an incremental boost in performance. Performance does come with a price.

When you get down to it, the Core i7 5960X Extreme Edition processor is a beast of a chip. One that fits the needs of the power user or content creation professional while providing an avenue for uncompromising gaming performance for the gamer that takes advantage of the platform.

 

Pros:

  • Multi threaded performance
  • Overclocking with eight cores
  • Eight cores 
  • Thermal performance

 

Cons:

  • Low base clock speed
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