Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E Processor Review

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Intel Core i7-3960X CPU Air Temp Testing

It’s tough to do temperature testing since we don’t have a thermo chamber, but the least we can do is show you the temperature numbers we observed on the Intel Core i7-3960X processor as we tested it. For benchmarking and temperature testing we used the Zalman CNPS12X CPU cooler. Sure, Intel sent over their new water cooler, but we wanted to
keep our power numbers in check the best we could. Running a water pump
in addition to the fans increases power usage and we didn’t want that to
influence our power consumption numbers that we will be showing you on
the next page.

Zalman CNPS12X CPU cooler

The Zalman CNPS12X is one of the largest CPU coolers that we have ever used. It weighs in at 1,000 grams and has dimensions of 151(L) x 132(W) x 154(H)mm. The Zalman CNPS12X doesn’t come cheap, either, as it costs $99.99 shipped! Since everything on this HSF is massive it was tricky to get memory modules to work with it. We have a feeling that Intel released their first desktop water cooler to help avoid memory fitment issues. We found that standard height modules would fit in all eight socket, but we run 1866MHz CL9 memory on all of our test systems. Trying to find a memory kit that would work at these speeds was nearly impossible, but luckily we had a kit of Corsair Dominator GTX4 DDR3 2400MHz memory that would fit and work at the timings we wanted. We had to take the heat sink off on the two inner modules, but that is no big deal as they would run 9-10-9-28 1T timings at 1866MHz with 1.50 Volts!

To get idle temperatures we let the platform idle for 30 minutes on the open test bench and then ran it at full load with Prime 95 64-bit.

Intel Core i7-3960X Processor Temperature at Idle

The ambient air temperature in the room was 70F or 21C. We used the new Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to monitor the overall CPU temperatures. You can independently monitor each core with this utility or the average of all of them. We enabled just the overall temperature to make things simple. As you can see from the image above the idle temperature bounced around 32-33C, which is pretty darn impressive.

Intel Core i7-3960X Processor Temperature at Load

When it comes to load temperatures we fired up Prime95 64-bit and let the system run for about 30 minutes as by then the CPU temperatures leveled off. At 100% load in Prime95 we found the Intel Core i7-3060X topping out at 57C. Not bad considering the processor is running at a very respectable 3.6GHz with all six cores at load thanks to Turbo mode.

Let’s look to see how the Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC does on the next page!

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