Intel Core i7-6950X Processor Review – 10-core Broadwell-E Benchmarked

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Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

Turbo Boost 3.0 Technology

One of the most noteworthy changes to Broadwell-E is the addition of Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. Intel Turbo Boost was introduced way back in 2008 and temporarily increases the clock speed of the chip to improve performance. Broadwell-E is the first series of processors to feature Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology that needs a Windows driver to work properly and an application to work properly.

Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

Intel identifies at the factory which CPU core is the ‘best’ on your particular processor and then thanks to the UEFI, Windows Driver and Application and runs it at a higher clock speed than the others. The driver MUST be present on the system and configured correctly in order for this benefit to be realized as current operating systems cannot effectively route workloads to ordered cores. After installation, the Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Application / Driver will automatically load when the system starts.

Core i7-6950X Better Core

The UEFI BIOS Utility on our ASUS X99 Deluxe II motherboard places an asterisk next to the core that has the better overclocking headroom as determined by Intel. On our particular processor Core 2 is the best performing core. When enabled Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 direct single-threaded applications to that one higher-performing core, for a performance boost of up to 15 percent!

Notice that there is now an UEFI setting for ‘AVX Instruction Core Ratio Negative Offset’ now. This is a brand new feature for Broadwell-E that has been around in server platforms for the past couple years. Intel is giving end users control of this feature now because AVX workloads consume a lot more current than ones that use the default instruction set. The AVX Offset mechanism is designed to work in conjunction with Auto mode for voltage; when an AVX workload is detected, the processor reduces its frequency, which is followed by a reduction in core voltage via the on-die power control unit (PCU).  The adjustment option is nice to have, but by having it default to Auto it means that the processor voltage gets decreased to reduce operating temperatures under AVX workloads, and this can have negative implications for overclocking. We’ll look into this feature down the road as we get more familiar with the platform, but it is a new feature that is certainly worth noting.

Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

In Windows, you’ve been able to bind a certain program or process to a particular core or thread by changing the affinity. Turbo Boost Max 3.0 does it for you automatically (once set up).

Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

The Advanced Settings menu allows you to adjust the evaluation interval, utilization threshold and affinity controls. The evaluation interval is how often the Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Application / Driver looks for demanding work. The interval is specified in 100 millisecond units and the Intel default value is 10 (once per second). When the box for ‘Affinitize All Demanding Work’ is checked (Intel default), the software takes actions to run the demanding work of all applications on processor cores listed in the Core List in an ordered fashion with the following priority: 1) Foreground Applications (if Foreground App Has Priority control is checked), 2) Applications in the Turbo Boost Max Applications list, 3) Other applications. When the box is un-checked, the software takes actions to run the demanding work of Foreground Applications (if Foreground App Has Priority control is checked), and applications in the Turbo Boost Max Applications list only. Affinity Controls specify whether the Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Application / Driver places demanding work in priority order on all cores in the core list or whether it only places demanding work on higher performance (diverse) cores, which results in OS scheduler policy placing work on the residual cores. As you can see there is a fair amount of fine tuning that you can do to get the most from Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.

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  • Hussein Mostafa

    what is the max temperature 6950x can go to ? i reached 96C with it and thermal throttling option activated during the load i didnt notice that my Nepton 280L water cooling wasnt working right it ran into this degree for about 30 mins .. could this damaged the processor ?? and what is the safe temperature i can go for 6950x ?

  • Mher Hakobyan

    Can you explain me what does it mean when on the TOP of i7-6950x
    processor is written Intel confidential? and why it is written Intel

  • Travis Santelmann

    I love these 6950X’s… I’m getting one! C’mon tax season, right around the corner. Silicone lottery binned 4.4Ghz 6950X here I come!

    You’d have this CPU for years, and years! And it would still be a beast! I mean look at the i7 980x 6 core, and i7 990X there like 7 or 8 years old.. and there still monsters with 12 threads! And very much a viable workstation CPU solution!

    This 6950X would cost about $4 bucks a week for 5 years. That’s about $16 a month. Well we spent the cost of this CPU on our cell phones over the period of only 1 year! And constantly upgrade them to…

    You can find them for $1399 on sale. It’s a monster!!!!

  • anon

    I would love it compared it to a X5670 or X5690 or even the i7-920 OCed (I know you have one 😉 E5-1660 v1?

    All those old xeon processors can deal a good battle against all this new “super” cpus. And you can find them at a fraction of the price of the new “super” units.

    • Yian Pap

      My i7 920 OCed to 3.8Ghz achieves 4.8 score in the Euler3D benchmark. So, pretty bad compared to this CPU here, 3.5 times slower. (This is with DDR3 at 1.2Ghz). Make no mistake, this “super units” give you a lot more than old and cheap processors.

  • Wookie Groomer

    lol at that pricing… wtf.

  • Coach

    Why do you guys always use the AMD APUs in comparison to Intel CPUs? I know they FX processors don’t hold a candle to these newer Intel models, but at least they generally double the scores of an APU and don’t compare “AS” poorly. I guess maybe it is the test data you have available on the more recent benchmarks, but those APUs don’t have any business in an “E”-series review with benchmarks. I would leave them out. At least the magma-heat emitting 9590 could break up the blue team a little vs. the old Sandy Bridge and maybe Ivy Bridge. My old Phenom II can compete with that i7-920 better than the APUs. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I’ll be updating AMD’s offerings, but like you noted they don’t hold a candle and honestly you are the first to call me out for it. 🙂

      • Coach

        Thanks Nathan. 🙂 I watched the AMD Computex broadcast last night (no Stanley Cup game) 😉 and hopefully Zen breaks up the monopoly of benchmark charts.