Haswell-E Debuts: Intel Core i7-5960X Processor Review

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Haswell-E ChipWe have been eagerly anticipating the release of processors based on Intel’s Haswell-E microarchitecture for quite some time. After about three years of incremental performance improvements at the ultra-high end, as Sandy Bridge-E was eventually replaced by similarly clocked Ivy Bridge-E based processors, the rumored specs of Haswell-E were enticing. Unlike Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E, which maxed out at 6 cores (12 threads) with desktops variants, Haswell-E would be an 8-core machine (16 threads), featuring execution units based on Intel’s latest microarchitecture. Assuming similar clocks, the speculation was that the additional cores and newer microarchitecture would translate into significant performance and efficiency gains, which would be welcome improvements to say the least.

Well, we can stop speculating now, because Haswell-E is here. Today, Intel is officially launching the Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition and we’ve had the opportunity to take it for a spin in an array of brand new X99-based motherboards. The Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition is Intel’s latest desktop flagship, but the company is launching a couple of other lower-end Haswell-E-based processors as well, though using the term “lower-end” is probably a little misleading, considering the chips feature 6-cores and relatively high clocks.

We’ll dig in a little deeper, discuss Intel’s full Haswell-E line-up, and evaluate performance a little later. For now, let’s get some particulars out of the way and check out the brand-new Core i7-5960X’s features and specifications...

Intel Core i7-5690X Extreme Edition Processor
Specifications & Features

  • Core Frequency:
    3GHz (Up To 3.5GHz w/ Turbo)
  • QPI Speed:
  • TDP (Thermal Design Power):
  • Number of CPU Cores:
     8 (16 Threads w/ HT)
  • Intel SmartCache:
  • L2 Cache:
    2MB (256K x 8)
  • Processor input voltage (VID):
  • .022-micron manufacturing process
  • Shared Smart Cache Technology
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST)
  • Extended HALT State (C1E) Enabled
  • Execute Disable Bit (XD) Enabled
  • Intel 64 Technology
  • AES-NI: Processor instructions
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT)
  • Packaging - Flip Chip LGA2011 v3
  • Total Die Size: Approximately 355.5mm2
  • Approximately 2.6B Transistors
  • Price - $999 - Find It @ Amazon
Eight Core Processing: Runs 8 independent processor cores in one physical package

Base Processor Frequency: 3.0 GHz

Massive PCI Express Bandwidth: 40 lanes of PCIe supported through the processor

Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.5GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.

Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: 16 threads provide unprecedented processing capability for better multi-tasking and threaded applications. Do more with less wait time.

Intel Smart Cache: Up to 20MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.

Overclocking Enabled: Core (Turbo) and DDR4 ratios are unlocked for ease of overclocking

Integrated Memory Controller: Supports 4 channels of DDR4-21330 memory with 1 DIMM per channel. Support for XMP memory.

Core-i7 Haswell-E Top View   Core-i7 Haswell-E Bottom View
Intel LGA 2011 v3 Haswell-E Processor, Top and Bottom

Core-i7 Haswell-E Engineering Sample
One of our engineering samples...

Although it has the same number of pads (2011) as previous-gen Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E processors, Haswell-E based processors like the Core i7-5960X will require new motherboards equipped with LGA 2011 v3 sockets and support for DDR4 memory. We should mention, however, that CPU coolers designed for the original LGA 2011 sockets will work perfectly fine on LGA 2011 v3 sockets.

The Core i7-5960X pictured here also has a different integrated heat-spreader design than Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E processors and the capacitor layout on the underside of the chip is different as well.

Image gallery

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mike coyne 3 months ago

Great review on new Intel i7 5960X. I am stay up to date on 22 nm processor technology (i already have my I7 4960X IVB-E also is 22 nm) . I was very impressed by read the review about new 8 core CPU from Intel. I knew there can be mixed reaults between I7 4960X and 5960X but 5960X is still new.

BrianSmith 3 months ago

Maybe a proofreader would be beneficial. "But because its clocks aren’t quite as high at the Core i7-4960X" as high AT? "extreme processor like this on." ON? "It is still an extremely impressive powerhouse of a processors" -- processors? really? wow. Maybe go back and get your GED you loser.

altshep123 3 months ago

Nice thorough review guys. I'm a novice at best when it comes to detail like this, but I was confused by two things:

First you mentioned needing some pretty heavy liquid cooling to get any OC speeds above 3.5, but then explained you got your tests to 3.6mhz with only air (albeit throttled and running very hot). I'm assuming that's just to test limits and not something anyone would want to do continually?

Second, I get confused when I see "Supports 4 channels of DDR4-21330 memory". Is that referring to the LOWEST frequency supported?  We'll see support for over DDR4 3300Mhz right?

(one more typo on p6 (quad-channel DD44-based memory kits). Not a huge deal. So much hate above : /

marco c 3 months ago

@bsdect - There are video encoding tests in both of the PCM suites.

Also: "there are going to be times where its additional compute resources are under-utilized and higher-clocked processors will be faster."

"On some levels though, it feels as if Intel hasn’t—or wasn’t able too—push the boundaries too much further."

"It’s just not the absolute beast it could have been"

Intel pays people to point out shortcomings now? Seems like a good strategy.

@BrianSmith - Kudos to you for finding a handful of typos in a 6500 word, self-published piece at an independent publication. Let me return the favor. Here are yours: You forgot the question mark after the first sentence. You didn't capitalize the “R” in really or the “W” in wow. You forgot the comma before “loser” and again failed to end the last sentence with a question mark. Getting a GED is a good idea, though. Just tell me where you got yours so I can steer clear. They obviously didn't do that great of a job.

@alshep123 - I think you got the numbers a little mixed up. We could get into Windows at 4.6GHz, but the CPU would overheat quickly at that speed, hence the mention that you’d need powerful cooling. We had to bring it down to 4.4GHz to complete benchmarks without overheating / throttling.

As for the DDR-2133 reference, that's the "official" top speed Intel has set in the processor's specifications. Lower speeds are supported as well. And higher speeds are possible with overclocking. Hitting DDR4-3300 may be possible with some chips / memory kits / motherboards, but I can't say for sure just yet. (Typo also fixed--thanks!)

A750gixr 3 months ago

Wow, why all the trolling? I thought it was a very good article that didn't deserve that kind of bulling.

smithrd3512 3 months ago

Debating if this processor or just get a Xeon instead. You are approaching the cores of standard Xeon processors. Plus get the advantage of ECC and other features.

YogeshKumawat one month ago

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