Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new Intel Core i7-4960X is an insanely fast processor, under the right conditions. It is easily the fastest desktop processor Intel has released to date when tasked with highly-threaded workloads or when its massive amount of cache comes into play, as evidenced by our 3D rendering, ray tracing, and gaming benchmarks. However, assuming similar clock speeds, the newer Haswell microarchitecture employed in the recently released Core i7-4770K (and other 4th Gen Core processors) offers somewhat better single-core performance. As such, with lightly threaded or single-threaded workloads a similarly or even slightly lower clocked Haswell-based chip may offer better overall performance.
Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition Packaging - Intel Core i7 Processors at Amazon
In the conclusion of our original Ivy Bridge launch article, we said, “Ivy Bridge does not feature a brand-new microarchitecture designed to obliterate the previous generation. Rather, Ivy Bridge, and the 3rd Generation Core processor family based on the microarchitecture, is an evolution of Sandy Bridge that improves upon its predecessor in a number of key ways. If you simply perused our processor-centric benchmarks, this [Ivy Bridge] will probably look like a mild upgrade.” That statement pertains to today’s launch as well. The Core i7-4960X is an upgrade over 2011’s Sandy Bridge-E based Core i7-3960X, but it’s not a generational lead over its predecessor. Rather, the Core i7-4960X offers a mild performance boost and marginal improvement in power efficiency.
The Core i7-4960X isn’t the only Ivy Bridge-E based processor coming down the pipeline; Intel also has the quad-core / 8-thread Core i7-4820K and hex-core / 12-thread Core i7-4930K in the works as well, with prices ranging from $310 for the 4820K to $990 for the flagship Core i7-4960X. As has always been the case, if you want to enjoy the benefits of Intel’s top-of-the-line desktop processor, you’ll have to shell out about a grand, but we’re sure you already knew that. Flagship processors from Intel have never been cheap.
Ultimately, it is fair to say the Core i7-4960X is Intel’s fastest desktop processor ever. But because Haswell-based processors, which feature a newer, more advanced, microarchitecture have already landed, the Core i7-4960X is not the undisputed performance champion the Core i7-3960X was when it arrived. The Core i7-4960X is still a killer piece of hardware, there are just some caveats this time around. With that said, if money was no object, this is still the processor we’d buy. It’s just not the monster it could been if Intel had decided to up the ante a bit further by adding more cores or goosing clocks just a bit further.