Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge-E CPU

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition is the fastest desktop processor we have tested to date, bar none. In all of our multi-threaded benchmarks, the higher Turbo Boost frequencies and additional compute resources of the six-core Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition allowed it to easily overtake every other processor we tested, including the six-core Core i7-990X and pseudo eight-core AMD FX-8150. In our single and dual-threaded tests, the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition also offered excellent performance and outpaced every other processor, save for the Core i7-2700K which features a similar microarchitecture and peak Turbo Boost frequencies. The Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition also proved to be an excellent overclocker.

Intel Core i7 and Core i7 Extreme Processor Packaging


Intel will initially be releasing two Sandy Bridge-E based desktop processors, the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition we featured here and the slightly lower-clocked Core i7-3930K. Both of the processors are unlocked for more flexible overclocking, and they both feature six cores (12 threads), 130W TDPs, and quad-channel memory controllers. The Core i7-3930K, however, is outfitted with “only” 12MB of L3 cache, whereas the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition has 15MB, and the Core i7-3930K’s base and peak Turbo Boost frequencies are 100MHz lower. As such, the Core i7-3930K will be somewhat more affordable at $555, while the flagship Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition will command $990. As has always been the case with top-of-the-line desktop processors, you’ll have to pay to play with the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition. A higher clocked quad-core variant with 10MB of L3 cache is also coming at some point in Q1 of next year.

Intel Desktop Processor Line-Up

Put simply, the Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition is the most powerful desktop processor available on the market. Period. When paired to its companion X79 Express chipset, the two make for the most potent foundation of a desktop system yet, whether it be for gaming, content creation or productivity. Even so, there are still a couple of execution cores lying dormant in the processor which will likely be unleashed at some point in the future, when / if Intel re-spins the chip to tame its power requirements. Considering how powerful the platform is now, we shudder to think what the next version of SBE will do, if Intel takes that route, of course. And why wouldn't they?

  • Killer Performance
  • 6 Cores / 12 Threads
  • 40 PCI Express Lanes
  • Highly Overclockable
  • PCI Express 3.0 Ready
  • Insane Memory Bandwidth
  • Turbo Boost 2.0

  • Uber-Expensive
  • High Power Consumption when Overclocked
  • No Included Cooler
  • Another New Socket


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