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Monday, 14 November 2011 16:25

Intel's Sandy Bridge E hits review benches

Written by Slobodan Simic

intel logo_new hwroundup

Largest, fastest and expensive

Intel's latest Sandy Bridge E CPU accompanied by the X79 LGA 2011 chipset has finally been released, or to be precise, the NDA has been finally lifted and the work that reviewers around the world have been doing during past week has been published. The Core i7 3960X and the Core i7 3930K hexa-core CPUs are definitely the fastest thing that you can buy, but only for heavily multi-threaded tasks.

It is not fair to talk about the CPU alone as today, Intel also launched the new LGA 2011 socket as well as the new X79 chipset. As far as the CPU is concerned, Intel launched two desktop models, the Core i7 3960X and the Core i7 3930K, both six core models. The Core i7-3960X ticks at 3.3GHz, has a maximum turbo of 3.9GHz and 15MB of L3 cache, while the cheaper Core i7-3930K works at 3.2GHz, has maximum turbo of 3.8GHz and packs 12MB of L3 cache.

Early next year, Intel plans to add another model, the quad-core Core i7 3820 working at 3.6GHz and packing 10MB of cache. As the name suggests this one will have a rather limited overclocking abilities due to the limited max OC multiplier.

intel x79SBE_1

As far as the architecture goes, the new Sandy Bridge E is, pretty much, a Sandy Bridge EP Xeon part, but with two cores fused off. The 32nm die is the largest one so far and measures at 20.8x20.9mm (~435mm2) and packs 2.27 billion transistors. When compared to Sandy Bridge, it has a quad-channel memory controller and bunch of PCI-Exprees lanes (a total of 40) that are, by the way, compliant with PCI-Express 3.0 specifications. This means that you'll actually be able to use dual-GPU configuration with full x16 interface as opposed to 2x8 on the Sandy Bridge. Of course, the new Sandy Bridge E lacks the on-die GPU as well as Intel's Quick Sync.

intel x79SBE_2
Courtesy of Anandtech.com

Although the CPU looks quite good, at least on paper, the new X79 chipset with LGA 2011 socket is rather underwhelming. As you already know, Intel originally planned to implement SAS support as well but due to some issues, you'll be getting the four SATA 3.0Gbps and two SATA 6.0Gbps layout, same as on the 6-series chipset. Intel also didn't include the USB 3.0 controller in the X79 so motherboard vendors will still have to stick to 3rd party solutions.

Most reviews agree on the same thing, the new Sandy Bridge E is clearly the fastest thing that you can buy and fits to "ultra high-end" segment like a glove. Unfortunately, you'll need a hell of a lot of multi-threaded tasks in order to harness all of that power. The lack of USB 3.0 and rather underwhelming SATA layout makes the X79 rather plain and it is up to motherboard vendors to make something out of it since Sandy Bridge E is an enthusiast product, you got to have an enthusiast class motherboard to go with it. As far as gamers go, it still makes sense to go for the plain Sandy Bridge platform, rather than Sandy Bridge E.

The price is what you would expect from Intel and from ultra high-end segment as the fastest Core i7 3960X gas US $990 price tag while the Core i7 3930K will sell for US $555.

You can check out some reviews below.

- Anandtech.com
- Neoseeker.com
- Xbitlabs.com
- Tweaktown.com
- Hothardware.com
- eTeknix.com
- Hardwarecanucks.com
- PCekspert.com

Last modified on Monday, 14 November 2011 16:59
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+8 #1 Super XP 2011-11-14 17:57
The only thing I like is the Quad-Channel memory design. This was something Bulldozer was suppose to. have, but AMD chose to stick with compatibility.
These new Intel CPUs don't offer any extra benefits to gamers and are way overpriced.
+8 #2 chris077 2011-11-14 17:57
Too bad its not any better at gaming.
+10 #3 stun 2011-11-14 19:09
LGA 2011 is a DOA (dead on arrival) platform with Ivy Bridge just around the corner.
I will save my money and wait for Ivy Bridge for better performance + energy efficiency.
+6 #4 nt300 2011-11-14 20:48
Or maybe AMD's Piledriver can offer better value and performance. Either way this SandyBridge-E is a waist of money IMO.
-3 #5 maroon1 2011-11-14 22:10
There is huge improvement over i7 2600 in multi-threaded applications

Not everyone use PC to play games only.
+1 #6 Bl0bb3r 2011-11-15 02:50
Quoting maroon1:
There is huge improvement over i7 2600 in multi-threaded applications

Not everyone use PC to play games only.

"Huge" is a gross overstatement. It's mostly 50% better than any AMD, keyword mostly. Against 1155, it's not spectacular.

Since we're not talking about gaming, I could probably build several machines for the same amount of money and get the job done faster, better, and more reliable in a virtualized sphere.

There's nothing that would make sense to buy this unless it's to break OC'ing records.
+4 #7 deadspeedv 2011-11-15 05:49
No real point in buying Enthusiast stuff anymore since all games are console ports. Even entry to mid range gear can easily handle most games at full settings. And no new consoles til like 2015 (besides new Wii).

Gone are the days of games like Crysis that really pushed computers to their limits. So much power computers have but nothing that will even use half of it.
-1 #8 robert3892 2011-11-15 09:07
The i7 3820 is coming and it will be cheaper but at the expense of limited overclocking. Probably 1st quarter of 2012
+2 #9 The_Countess 2011-11-15 11:02
Quoting Super XP:
The only thing I like is the Quad-Channel memory design.

funny, because that's also the most useless part of it.

the only thing that has any merit is the 6-core that was released on it... but those would have functioned just as well on s1155.

besides making intel extra desktop money these things have no use.
This was something Bulldozer was suppose to. have, but AMD chose to stick with compatibility.

it does have it. for the server market where it makes sense. AMD has had that for years already.
for the desktop its useless. and besides with dual channel ddr3 1866 it has slightly more bandwidth then intel's previous high-end platform s1366. and that platform didn't need it either.
0 #10 Super XP 2011-11-15 14:01
So Quad-Channel just sounds good and looks good on paper. In the Server/Workstation arena, you will benefit. They need to take a page out and start developing app's and programs to fully utilize the Quad-Channel but in an intelligent way. Will this happen, lol probably not.

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