Haswell-E: The Intel Core i7-5960X 8-core Processor Review
Power Consumption, Perf per Dollar, Closing Thoughts
Join us at 12:30pm PT / 3:30pm ET as Intel's Matt Dunford joins us for a live stream event to discuss the release of Haswell-E and the X99 platform!! Find us at http://www.pcper.com/live!!
Power Consumption Testing
Power testing was done with the discrete graphics card installed, but idle. Cinebench 11 was used to get our CPU load values, but all measurements are for the full system.
At idle, Haswell-E and X99 use no more power than Haswell and Z97, so that's a good sign. But look at this load result! The Core i7-5960X system draws just 169 watts from the wall, nearly identical in power draw when compared to Ivy Bridge-E and more than 20 watts less than Sandy Bridge-E. The power consumption gap between the 4790K (with 4 cores) and the 5960X (with 8 cores) is only 14 watts. Considering this is a multi-threaded benchmark application running, this is about as "bad" as the difference will get between these parts. Oh, and it's still 30 watts lower than the AMD FX-8350, for what that's worth.
By utilizing tri-gate transistors and Intel's 22nm process technology, HSW-E is able to pack in a metric tonne of performance in a power envelope that essentially remains unchanged from previous generations.
Performance per Dollar
One thing we wanted to take into consideration with this review is the idea of performance per dollar. To get some interesting data I selected three benchmarks (7zip, Cinebench 11 and x264 v5.0) and included current pricing from Newegg.com (or Amazon if out of stock on Newegg).
The projected MSRP of the Core i7-5960X is a staggering $999. But I am going to go with $1049 as the standard markup for these parts at launch is usually AT LEAST that much.
Okay so this was basically a setup. We knew the Core i7-5960X wasn't going to win any awards when it comes to performance per dollar; no Extreme Edition processor has ever done that. Maybe we'll be able to get our hands on both the Core i7-5930K and the Core i7-5820K to see how they fare - I imagine it will be much better.
There are a lot of directions to go with the conclusion to this review. But let's start here: the Intel Core i7-5960X is easily the fastest consumer processor we have ever had in our hands. With eight Haswell processing cores, and the ability to handle 16 threads at the same time, this CPU is able to cut through multi-threaded applications like a hot knife through butter. While some users might have been lurking around hoping that Intel would release a 10-core version of Haswell-E under the Core brand, that doesn't appear to be in the cards for now. Still, no one that installs this CPU in a brand new X99 motherboard is going to be disappointed with performance, I can guarantee you that.
Core i7-5960X, Core i7-4960X, AMD FX-6300, Core i7-4790K
Without hard numbers, it's hard to be completely certain, but I really like the prospects of both the Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5820K Haswell-E processors. In previous E-class generations the x820 part was limited to quad core which essentially put it on the same performance level as the standard version of that generation of CPU. With HSW-E though the 5820K will get a 50% core boost over Haswell parts, with 6 cores and 12 threads of compute. For $389, plus the cost of DDR4 and an X99 motherboard, you'll be getting a definite upgrade over Haswell and the move from 16 lanes of PCIe to 28 lanes will enable multi-GPU + PCI Express SSD upgrades down the road.
If you had to pick one area other than price that the Core i7-5960X has issues, it's in the single threaded department. With a limited clock speed range of 3.0 GHz to 3.5 GHz, even the updated Haswell microarchitecture isn't enough to prevent those kinds of frequencies from standing out. Just take a look at the recently launched Devil's Canyon Core i7-4790K Haswell part. It has a base clock speed of 4.0 GHz and a Turbo speed rated at 4.4 GHz. That's nearly a 1.0 GHz advantage over its much more expensive brethren. Several of our benchmarks showed this clearly: Cinebench 11 (single thread) and even Handbrake 0.9.8 show limited to reverse scaling on the new Haswell-E CPU. As a buyer, if you need the absolute PEAK single threaded performance, the Core i7-5960X isn't for you.
But for just about everyone else, the Core i7-5960X is nearly impossible to beat. Add to raw performance the fact that you get access to DDR4 memory before anyone else, 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 and X99 motherboards that can support ten SATA 6G connections, Thunderbolt, six USB 3.0 ports and 4-Way SLI/CrossFire (all board implementation dependent of course) and you have a compelling package. Tighten that belt though as it won't come cheap. Turn the A/C back a few degrees for the rest of the summer and save up as you'll need some cash to invest in a $1000 processors, $200-300 X99 motherboard and $230-350 for DDR4 memory.
Fastest consumer CPU we've ever used. What else can I say?