Intel Core i7-5960X - Haswell-E CPU's Finally Cometh

Intel today launched three new high-end Haswell-E processors for the brand new Intel X99 chipset based platform that was also launched today along with the new LGA 2011-v3 socket. This means that you'll have to get a new motherboard with an LGA 2011 v3 socket, but your old LGA 2011 CPU cooler will still work as the CPU cooler mounting holes remain the same. This new platform also ushers in support for DDR4 memory! So, in addition to the new processor, chipset and socket, there is a major advancement with regards to the DRAM! Intel Core i7-5960x CPU Highlights Intel has clearly shaken things up for power users around the world, but the Haswell-E processors are based on essentially the same architecture that the mainstream Haswell processors feature. The Haswell-E processor series will feature either 6 or 8 cores that can each process two threads simultaneously thanks to IntelHyper-Threading technology. The actual execution cores are essentially identical to the original Haswell microarchitecture, so the die shot is very similar. The die size is approximately 355.5mm2 (17.6 mm x 20.2 mm) The new flagship desktop processor for Intel is the Intel Core i7-5960X Processor Extreme Edition. Intel Core i7-5960X CPU-Z The Intel Core i7-5960X processor is a fully unlocked 8-core, 3.0GHz processor with 20MB of L3 cache that can boost up to 3.5GHz thanks to Intel Turbo Boost technology. This 22nm Haswell-E processor supports Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, SSE4.2, VT-d, AES, AVX, AVX2 and FMA3 instruction sets. Intel Unlocked Processor Pricing
As it was mentioned earlier, Intel is releasing three Haswell-E processors today and they range in price from $389 to $999. The processors vary in cores, cache, clock speeds and even the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes that are available off of the CPU, so be sure that you fully understand the differences before ordering a processors in the weeks or months ahead. Here is the lineup with the basic key features.
  • Intel Core i7-5960X - $999 - 8 physical cores with 16 total threads, a clock speed of 3.0GHz at base and 3.3GHz at Turbo, 20MB of L3 cache and 40 PCIe Gen 3 Lanes.
  • Intel Core i7-5930K - $583 - 6 physical cores with 12 threads at 3.5/3.9GHz, 15MB of L3 cache and 40 PCIe Gen 3 Lanes.
  • Intel Core i7-5820K - $389 -  6 physical cores with 12 threads at 3.3/3.6GHz, 15MB of L3 cache and 28 PCIe Gen 3 Lanes.
The Intel Core i7-5820K has six cores, but the PCIe support goes from 40 to just 28 lanes and that might be an issue for a small group of users.  Having 28 PCIe lanes is still enough for many as you can do a 16+8 configuration for optimal dual-GPU performance and still have some lanes left over for USB or M.2 PCIe storage needs. You could even do three PCIe x16 slots at x8 and have 4 lanes leftover again, so the Core i7-5820K is still a potent processor and we can't wait to see how it overclocks.  The Intel Core i7-920 was a very popular processor back in the day due to its price and overclockability, so we can only hope that the Intel Core i7-5870K will have the same potential.
Intel X99 Platform
To support the new Haswell-E processor lineup you'll find the Intel X99 chipset. The block diagram above shows you what all can be supported and not too much of it should come as a shock to you.  There is support for DDR4 quad-channel memory kits and Intel currently supports up to 64GB (8x8GB modules) at speeds of up to 2133MHz. There are up to 40 PCI Express Gen 3 lanes available off the processor and the processor is connected to the chipset through the DMI 2.0 x4 interface. The Intel X99 chipset has support for 8 additional PCI Express Gen 2 lanes, 10 SATA III ports with support for Intel RST 13.1 if the motherboard maker wants to support it, 8 USB 3.0 ports, 6 USB 2.0 ports,  Intel integrated Gigabit MAC and Intel HD audio. This chipset/processor combination screams for PCIe devices, so get ready to see some wicked Multi-GPU systems with NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire setups that have PCIe storage to boot. Intel noted that popular multi-card configurations are 2x16 and 1x8 or 5x8. Most Intel X99 boards will have M.2 x4 PCIe slots on them, so it looks like PCIe storage will really start to take off in the months ahead. intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E Processor Here is a look at the Intel Core i7-5960X processor and on the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) it shows the model number, S-Spec, Batch number and where it was made. This particular Intel Core i7-5960X processor has an S-spec of QFRA, a batch number of J4310020 and that it was made in the USA. intel Core i7-5960X Processor Pins Flipping the processors over you can see that the 5960Xhas the usual capacitors that reside in the middle around the pins needed to operate in an LGA2011 v3 socket. Intel LGA2011-3 Let's take a look at how the Intel Core i7-5960X Processor performs in our Intel X99 test platform, which is the ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard!  

Intel Test System Details

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We completely overhauled our test setup for the Intel Core i7-4790K processor launch, so we are starting over from scratch when it comes to testing everything. test-system The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the Intel 2011-V3 processor was running the ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 0601 that came out on 8/26/2014. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 2666MHz memory kit was manually set to run at 2133MHz at 1.20v with 14-14-14-34 1T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD uses 19nm NAND and was using M311 firmware. 5960x-settings The Intel Z97 platform that we used to test the Intel 1150 processors was running the ASUS Z97-A motherboard with BIOS 1204 that came out on 6/20/2014. The Corsair Dominator Platinum 8GB 2133MHz memory kit was set to XMP 1.3 memory profile settings, which is 1.65v with 9-11-11-31 2T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD uses 19nm NAND and was using M311 firmware.
Pentium G3258 Test System
Here is a quick look at the CPU-Z information for our main test system that we'll be doing the testing on.
Intel LGA1150 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Pentium G3258

Motherboard

ASUS Z97-A Click Here

Memory

8GB Dominator 2133MHz Click Here

Video Card

N/A Click Here

Hard Drive

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H105 Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K95 Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M95 Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i Click Here

Operating System

Windows 8.1 64-Bit Click Here

SiSoftware Sandra 2014 SP3 and AIDA64

Sisoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

The Sisoft Sandra 2014 SP2a benchmark utility measures pretty much all of your system components, but we'll be using it to focus on memory and CPU performance!

sandra-memory

Results: As you can see from our memory testing that was completed with either a 2133MHz DDR3 or DDR4  memory kit with the exeption of the Intel Core i7-920 that is a locked processor and run at the default setting of 1066Mhz DDR3 dual-channel with CL8 timings. The DDR4 2133MHz memory kit with CL14 timings was actually just a tad slower than the DDR3 2133MHz memory kit with CL9 timings. This is the JEDEC standard for DDR4 memory kits, so this is a very solid starting point and there will soon be DDR4 kits coming out that are 3200MHz with CL15 timings. Expect DDR4 to take off in the months ahead! aida64-correct If you are a fan of AIDA64 you can see that our Corsair DDR4 memory kit was being run at 2133MHz with 14-14-14-34 timings with a command rate of 1T.  This was good enough for 58GB/s of read and 48GB/s of write speed. The copy test was just shy of 60GB/s and we had a latency of 70.6ns. sandra-multimedia Results: The Intel Core i7-5960X scored 367.70 MPixels/s in the multi-media test, which is roughly 24% faster than the Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon processor that came out earlier this year. sandra-crypto Results: All the new mainstream and high-end desktop processors support AES-NI, but older processors like the Intel Core i7-920 and entry-level processors like the Intel Pentium G3258 do not and it shows.  The Intel Core i7-5960X is a monster when it comes to this AES benchmark test as we were able to get 12.0 GB/s! sandra-arith Results: In the Sandra 2014 SP3 CPU Arithmetic Benchmark the Intel Core i7-5960X scored 183.15 GOPS and crushed the competition by a pretty good amount.

x264 HD Encoding

x264
Simply put, the x264 HD Benchmark is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other. We are using x264 HD v5.0.1 for this test.
x264 HD Encoding Benchmark
This application scales across many threads and is ideal for processors with Intel Hyper-Threading or a bunch of cores. x264 Benchmark Results: The x264 HD v5.0.1 benchmark is one of the multi-threaded benchmarks that is able to show the full potential of the Intel Core i7-5960X processor. We found the 5960X was 97.44 FPS on pass 1 and 27.51 FPS on pass 2. This makes it roughly 43% faster than the Intel Core i7-4790K and if you are working with video content this could be a big time saver.

Euler3d CFD Benchmark

Next up is the STARS Euler3d CFD benchmark. The benchmark is intended to provide information about the relative speed of different processor, operating system, and compiler combinations for a multi-threaded, floating point, computationally intensive CFD code. The benchmark testcase is the AGARD 445.6 aeroelastic test wing. The wing uses a NACA 65A004 airfoil section and has a panel aspect ratio of 1.65, a taper ratio of 0.66, and a 45 degree quarter-chord sweep angle. This AGARD wing was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in the 16-foot Transonic Dynamics Tunnel and is a standard aeroelastic test case used for validation of unsteady, compressible CFD codes.
euler3d-benchmark
The benchmark CFD grid contains 1.23 million tetrahedral elements and 223 thousand nodes. The benchmark executable advances the Mach 0.50 AGARD flow solution. The Intel Fortran compiler (ifort 10.0) is used and all floating point variables are Fortran's double precision (8 bytes). Parallelization is through OpenMP. The benchmark score is reported as a CFD cycle frequency in Hertz and that is what we used to make out chart.
euler
Benchmark Results: The clock speeds of the Core i7-5960X don't make for impressive scores when using fewer than 8 threads, but once you get to 8 or more threads the performance is untouchable! Our score of 12.144Hz on the 16 threaded test is higher than we have ever seen before.

Handbrake

handbrake-gui HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It is popular today as it allows you to transcode multiple input video formats to h.264 output format and is highly multithreaded.
Big_buck_bunny
We used Big Buck Bunny as our input file, which has become one of the world standards for video benchmarks. The 1080P clip was used in the MP4 format and the workload is encoded into h.264 output format using the preset - high profile. This benchmark test was setup to give you an idea of how these processors can take a 1080p BD rip and turn it into a 1080p H.264. HandBrake version 0.9.9 was used for benchmarking and we highly encourage you to download this MP4 clip and compare your system to ours with Handbrake!

handbrake

Benchmark Results: HandBrake version 0.9.9 showed the Intel Core i7-5960X was killing it!  The 5960X averaged over 60FPS on over the course of the transcode and was found to be 47% faster than the  Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon Processor.

POV-Ray 3.7

Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7: The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own. The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which, in a nutshell, allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend on purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 RC5, which is the most recent version available. The benchmark used all available cores to their fullest extent to complete the render.

Pov-Ray 3.7 RC3

Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the elapsed time from the dialog box, which indicates the exact time it took for the benchmark to finish the benchmark and a score in PPS. We are using the final CPU score for our benchmarks and a higher value indicates faster system performance.

povray

Benchmark Results: The Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E processor tops the chart when it comes to the POV-Ray multi-CPU benchmark with a score of 2698.6 PPS. The Intel Pentium G3258 comes in with a score of 588.5 PPS, so the 5960X is roughly 4.5 times faster than the stock Pentium G3258 20th Anniversary Pentium Edition processor. The only downside to that is that it costs $999 versus just $60 for the G3258!

Cinebench R15

MAXON; CINEBENCH R15:

MAXON CINEBENCH Release 15 is an advanced hardware testing suite that assesses a computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on the same powerful technology as MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more. The new version of CINEBENCH includes the ability to more accurately test the industry’s latest hardware, including systems with up to 64 processor threads, and the testing environment better reflects the expectations of today’s production demands. A more streamlined interface makes testing systems and reading results incredibly straightforward. Again, higher Frames/Second and point score equal better performance.

cinebench benchmark

Cinebench R15 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms. cinebench Benchmark Results: The Intel Core i7-5960X scored 1322 points when using all of the available cores and had a score of 138 on just one. The Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon processor scored 900 points and the Core i7-4960X came in at 1078 points.

TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt is a is sort of discontinued, but it was once a widely available freeware utility used for on-the-fly encryption (OTFE). It can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file or encrypt a partition or (under Microsoft Windows except Windows 8 with GPT) the entire storage device (pre-boot authentication). On 28 May 2014, the TrueCrypt website announced that the project was no longer maintained and recommended users to find alternate solutions. Since that announcement was made Thomas Bruderer and Joseph Doekbrijder have stepped forward with plans to revive the project through the truecrypt.ch site, which is offering downloads of TrueCrypt 7.1a – which can encrypt and decrypt data, and was the latest version prior to 7.2. truecrypt-71 We are using the benchmark built-in TrueCrypt 7.1a with default settings to figure out the mean AES speed for each of the processors being tested with a 50MB buffer size. truecrypt Benchmark Results: As you can see the Intel Pentium G3258 and Intel Core i7-920 didn't do too hot on TrueCrypt when it came to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) benchmark test since neither support the Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction set (AES-NI). The rest of the processors do support AES-NI and the Intel Core i7-5960X dominates. AES-NI are a set of instructions that enable fast and secure data encryption and decryption, so if you run applications that perform bulk encryption/decryption, authentication, random number generation, and authenticated encryption you'll want to be sure to invest in a processor that has AES-NI support.

3DMark 2013

Futuremark 3DMark Tests

Futuremark 3DMark has three primary benchmark tests that you can run and which test you should be running depends on the system that you are benchmarking on.

Let's take a closer look at the 3DMark Cloud Gate results and specifically the Physics test results. Intel Core i7-920: 920-3dmark Intel Core i7-4960X: 4960-3dmark Intel Core i7-5960X: 5960-3dmark Benchmark Results: The latest NVIDIA GeForce 334.79 beta drivers aren't approved by Futuremark, but they are the latest and we used them on the GeForce GTX Titan video card for each platform.  The graphics score was very close on the Core i7-4960X and the Core i7-5960X, but the Core i7-5960X managed to edge out a slight victory thanks to the higher physics score.  The Core i7-5960X managed to get 12,153 in the physics test compared to just 9,924 on the 4960X and 4,976 on the Core i7-920.

Intel Core i7-5960X CPU Temperature Testing

test-system The Intel Core i7-5960X Processor DOES NOT use Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material (NGPTIM) like the Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon processor uses, but we were still interested in seeing how hot the chip gets. We took a look at idle and load temperatures on the processor with Gelid Extreme Thermal Compound on the Corsair H105 Closed Loop Water Cooler. We used the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility v5.1.0.23 to monitor the temperatures. 5960x-idle At idle we found the Intel Core i7-5960X processor to be at 32C with a CPU core voltage of 0.7400V. handbrake When running Handbrake we saw the temperature jump up to 50-52C with a CPU core voltage of 1.0190V.  The processor wasn't pegged at 100% load though with Handbrake as the CPU Total TDP for the 5960X was just 105W. prime95 With Prime95 64-bit we were able to get the CPU Total TDP up to 140 Watts and the processor was pegged at 100% use at 3.3GHz.  The temperature seemed to settle down at 62C with 1.01V, which isn't that bad if this utility is reading the Core i7-5960X Haswell-E CPU temperatures properly. temp-testing So, on our system with the Corsair H105 water cooler along with Gelid Extreme Thermal Compound we were running around 32C at idle and hit 62C at load. Not bad temperatures for a true 8-core processor, but keep in mind the clock speeds are relatively low as is the core voltage. The Intel Core i7-5960X actually has slightly lower load temperatures than the Intel Core i7-4790K and the Core i7-4770K, which some people might find interesting. The 5960X might have more cores, but they run slower with less Voltage!  

Power Consumption

test-system Power efficiency remains important to PC users and Intel and AMD have both made great strides to improve power efficiencies. Today we will be looking at a few high-end desktop processors on our Watts Up Pro ES power data logger on the three platforms with each running Windows 8.1 on the balanced power option. power-consumption Benchmark Results: The Intel Core i7-5960X has much lower than anticipated power numbers, which is great. We double checked out power numbers on both the Watts Up Pro ES and Kill-A-Watt power meter because we thought something was wrong on the X99 platform. It looks like Intel Haswell-E has a very efficient idle power efficiency as we were right around 60 Watts at idle on the ASUS X99 Deluxe motherboard with UEFI 0601 along with a 16GB kit of DDR4 memory running at 1.2V and a GeForce GTX Titan video card with the latest GeForce 334.79 beta drivers along with the Corsair AX860i digital power supply. When running Prime 95 we hit 211 Watts and then when running 3DMark we hit 302 Watts. The Intel Core i7-4960X was run on the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard, which is known to be slightly power hungry with all the extras on it and idled at 99.8 Watts and hit 272 Watts in Prime 95 and 326 Watts in 3DMark.

Intel Core i7-5960X Processor Overclocking

5960X Stock Speeds

The Intel Core i7-5960X processor runs up to 3.3GHz out of the box, but we wanted to see how much higher that we could get. The big question is, how well does Haswell-E overclock compared to previous gen processors? From what we have been told, the average overclocked frequency for 5960X processors is 4.5GHz. Good samples will achieve 4.6GHz fully stable with less than 1.30Vcore. Lesser samples achieve 4.4GHz with the same voltage. For this review we wanted to see what we could hit with the Corsair H105 water cooler and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we have a good chip!

Intel Core i7-5960X Overclock

The top overclock on this specific Intel Core i7-5960X processor was right around 4.4GHz as we could get it stable at 1.30Volts on the core at either a 100MHz CPU strap with a 44 multiplier or a 125MHz CPU strap with a 35 multiplier. We could get some benchmarks to run at 4.5GHz, but they weren't stable even with pushing the voltage up to 1.325V. This chip isn't an overclocking monster, but we'll take 4.4GHz on an 8-core processor. You'll likely be able to overclock the Haswell-E K parts (Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5820K) about 100-200MHz higher than what you can get on the 5960X since they have fewer cores enabled. With fewer cores producing heat you should be able to run higher voltages and get better overclocking. At the end of the day this is a 1.1GHz overclock over the stock max turbo speed. This is a 33% improvement in clock speeds!

cinebench overclocked

With the Intel Core i7-5960X running at 4.4GHz we were able to score 1703 on the CPU test in Cinebench. We got a score of 1320 stock, so this is a nice 29% performance gain from our 33% clock frequency jump.

oc-idleoc-temps

At 4.4 GHz we saw the temperatures at around 40C at idle and then they hit around 75-78C at load. It should be noted that our 4.4GHz overclock was stable in all the benchmarks and real world applications that we ran, but it did blue screen on Prime95. We had Intel XTU open and the Intel Core i7-5960X hit 92C and was still shooting up when the system locked up and crashed, so even with the dual-radiator water cooler we were seeing extremely high temperatures when overclocked with 1.3V being used on the processor. If you wanted to overclock the Intel Core i7-5960X you really do need water cooling and a dual-radiator or triple-radiator water cooling setup would be recommended if you want to run over 4.3GHz. For overclocking 5960X processors it is also recommended that you use a power supply (PSU) that can supply 30 amps to the EPS 12V connector for the CPU. At 4.6GHz it has been found that a 5960X can draw close to 25amps from the EPS12V connector at full load.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

haswell-e Where should we begin? The Intel Core i7-5960X is an impressive processor from a multi-thread perspective. In applications where you can fully utilize the 8-cores and 16-threads there are significant performance improvements to be had. The down side to having that many cores is heat and Intel put the base clock of the processor down to just 3GHz.  If you are using only a handful of threads, the Intel Core i7-5960X can find itself in a position where a much less expensive Haswell processor with higher clock speeds could outperform it. That said, the Intel Haswell-E series was designed for uncompromised performance and is targeted at power users, gamers and overclockers. Right now there is no better desktop processor on the market when it comes to multi-thread computing. intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E Processor Overclocking performance wasn't stellar, but we were happy with the overclock that we were able to get on this 8-core processor. The 3.0GHz base clock is not impressive and would be considered conservative by many, so after getting our processor up to 4.4GHz we were pretty damn happy. We were able to get into Windows 8.1 at 4.7GHz and run a couple benchmarks, but it wasn't stable with 1.3-1.35V and that is as high as we were wanting to go on our closed loop liquid cooler as we were above 90C when the CPU was at 100% load across all the cores. Intel Core i7-5960X Overclock Pricing will be the sticking point for many.  The Intel Core i7-5960X costs $999.99, the ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard that we used for our test platform runs $399.99, the Corsair DDR4 2666MHz memory kit runs around $375 and we have another $100 tied up in the Corsair H105 CPU liquid cooler.  That all adds up to around right around $1,875 and that is before the video card, solid-state drive, power supply, case, operating system and so on. Building a system around the Intel Core i7-5960X won't come cheap, but the performance is impressive and will be of interest to those that need the multi-threaded power like this. If you build a system on this platform with a Haswell-E processor you'll have 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0, ten SATA III 6Gbps connections, 14 USB ports, 4-Way SLI/CrossFire support and likely M.2 PCie ports depending on the motherboard you pick out.  The Haswell-E CPU + X99 Chipset combination will be potent for years to come as any past X58 or X79 owner will tell you that these high-end platforms will last many years. The Intel Core i7-5960X gets our Editor's Choice Award due to the fact that it is the fastest desktop processor that we have ever had the pleasure of using!
Legit Reviews Editors Choice Award

Legit Bottom Line: The Intel Core i7-5960X shows that Intel can keep adding cores, but we need more applications and game titles that can use all these threads that Intel is able to give us!