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Ivy Bridge-E: Intel Core i7-4960X Processor Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Multi-GPU Gaming

With this high end system in our hands I know that one of the questions we get from readers quite often is how does a new CPU affect gaming?  In order to test that we took our CPU test bed used in the previous benchmarks and swapped out the single Radeon HD 7970 for a set of three of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX TITANs.  At $999 MSRP, the TITAN is the fastest single GPU graphics card on the market and running three of them in SLI gives us a total of 18GB of graphics memory (!!). 

I was only able to test the new IVB-E Core i7-4960X against the SNB-E Core i7-3970X at this time as I realized too late that the two Z87 boards I had on hand did NOT support 3-Way SLI.  More on that soon!

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There are really two things to look for with our 3-Way SLI testing on IVB-E: higher frame rates or more consistent frame times.  With Bioshock Infinite at 2560x1440 and the Ultra preset, the frame rate didn't change noticeably (both averaged basically at 160 FPS) though the frame time graph indicates slightly more consistent performance on Ivy Bridge-E.

 

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In Crysis 3, at Very High presets with 4x MSAA enabled, the average frame rate remains unchanged but you can again see some more consistent frame times.  If you look at the 95th percentile on the FPS by Percentile graph you should note that the IVB-E is hitting 51-52 FPS while the SNB-E hits 47-48 mark.  Not a huge difference but it is something.

 

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Metro Last Light shows very a slightly better frame rate throughout the back 50 percentiles for the IVB-E processor.

 

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In Sleeping Dogs we see not only the same small improvement in frame time consistency but also a measurable (though small) gain in average frame rate: 105 FPS with the 4960X versus 99 FPS on the 3970X. 

 

At the end of the day, while the new Core i7-4960X is better than the Core i7-3970X for high performance multi-GPU gaming in these tests, the difference is still rather small and you'd be hard pressed to find someone that could differentiate between them in a blind test.

September 3, 2013 | 01:07 AM - Posted by Boris (not verified)

"...a set of three of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX TITANs. At $999 MSRP, the TITAN is the fastest single GPU graphics card on the market and running three of them in SLI gives us a total of 18GB of graphics memory (!!)."

No it doesn't. VRAM is mirrored in SLI/CF. Therefore, three Titans still effectively have 6GB of VRAM.

September 3, 2013 | 05:04 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

IF your a average gamer ....don't bother.
Love one but just cannot get over the price.

Not to be fanboy ish but shouldn't gamers be moving to 8 core
AMD. I know intel is faster, but two years down the road into xBONE and PS4 life cycle it might just be an advantage.

September 3, 2013 | 07:03 AM - Posted by YTech

8 Core is great, but from what I've heard, most games aren't well optimized for 8 cores.

Hence why most gamers used to recommend the 2 core CPU (Duo/Dual). Now, 4 cores is preferred. Eventually, most games will be optimized for 8 cores. I do recall seeing some new games that when it detect additional cores, it will utilize them.

However, note that more cores means lower clock-speed (Ghz) per core. So if you can't use those additional cores, performance is decreased.

As for other usages such as high computing task, 8 cores are recommended (e.i. Adobe software).

Cheers! :)

June 12, 2014 | 05:09 AM - Posted by Dominga (not verified)

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September 3, 2013 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Clayton (not verified)

I'm sure none of the reviewers have wanted to do this, for obvious reasons, and we probably won't know till more are in the wild, but I'd love to know if these have soldered IHSs or if I need to continue my tradition of de-lidding these things. It will influence my decision to a reasonable degree. I haven't seen mention of this on any of the reviews so far.

September 17, 2013 | 08:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've seen it somewhere.. Ivy-E is soldered to the IHS.

September 6, 2013 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Any plans to test PCI Express 2.0 vs 3.0 on the "E" platforms?

September 9, 2013 | 02:12 PM - Posted by ZzzSleep (not verified)

There just isn't the single threaded IPC gains that we need for anybody to justify an upgrade from Sandy Bridge onwards. There's also no gains in overclocking headroom either, which makes the processor a pretty lackluster offering over the last generation from Intel.

September 9, 2013 | 07:43 PM - Posted by Dan (not verified)

What's up with the slow memory latency of the 4960X? Does having 4 memory channels affect the latency?

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