Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

Summary: Today is the day that Intel widens the CPU performance gap between itself and AMD with the release of Sandy Bridge-E processors, an update of its Extreme Edition chips using the company's latest and greatest microarchitecture.The centerpiece of the new rollout is the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, a six-core 3.

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Today is the day that Intel widens the CPU performance gap between itself and AMD with the release of Sandy Bridge-E processors, an update of its Extreme Edition chips using the company's latest and greatest microarchitecture.

The centerpiece of the new rollout is the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, a six-core 3.3GHz screamer that jumps to 3.9GHz with TurboBoost and comes with 15MB of cache. It's unlocked so you can overclock it to your heart's content, but requires a new socket, the LGA2011, and a motherboard built for the new X79 chipset. Intel will be offering a liquid cooling solution, the RTS2011LC, for the new chips, but Sandy Bridge-E processors won't come shipped with a cooler.

Also available is the six-core Core i7-3930K, which features 3.2GHz clock speed (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) and 12MB of cache -- as well as a much cheaper price tag. While the i7-3960X is priced around $1,000 -- like all top Extreme Edition chips in the past -- the i7-3930K will "only" cost around $550. A third Sandy Bridge-E processor, the Core i7-3820, will be released in 2012, though it's a quad-core CPU that's only partially unlocked.

Benchmarks of the i7-3960X from sites like Hot Hardware, PCMag, AnandTech, and Tom's Hardware show that it inevitably earns the "fastest desktop CPU ever" title, though not without caveats. It uses huge amounts of power, especially when overclocking, and doesn't outpace the much cheaper Core i7-2600K by that much on certain benchmarks.

Then again, there will always be buyers of the chip despite its super-high price. If you're one of them, and you prefer to buy a desktop already configured with the processor, boutique system builders Maingear, Origin and Digital Storm are ready to oblige you. Maingear is now offering the i7-3960X in its Shift and F131 desktops, Origin in its Genesis desktop, and Digital Storm is introducing the new ODE Level 4 desktop with the new processor. All three vendors will overclock the Sandy Bridge-E CPU for you to well above 4GHz.

Are you one of the few well-heeled enthusiasts who will be shelling out a grand to buy the new Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition? Or will you "settle" for the cheaper Core i7-3930K? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Intel, Processors, IT Employment

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Talkback

17 comments
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  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    It's interesting that the 3960X uses so much power, because every time I see the nomenclature "Sandy Bridge-E" it makes me think that it's a designation for some kind of more efficient or "value" chipset that's cheaper, not more expensive. Sandy Bridge-E really wasn't the best name for the architecture in my opinion.
    Playdrv4me
    • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

      @Playdrv4me Yeah, the E certainly isn't for energy efficient, which is sad really. I have Extreme Edition processors in my two fastest PCs. They are used for rendering HD video. I play games on them during down time, too. They're crazy fast, but it bugs me that these two systems seem to use more energy than my refrigerator or air conditioner. They also heat my office to at least 10 degrees warmer than the rest of my house. What happened to Intel's periodic promises about smaller, faster, more efficient processors coming? Maybe it's time for many-core "Super" ARM chips to take over. With process sizes shrinking like crazy, this sort of energy consumption just seems crazy.
      BillDem
      • The key word is "extreme"

        1200 W) and fridge is usually 600- 1000 W depending on size. The GPUs can add a ton of power overhead. And note that ARMs are still 32 bit and limited to 4 G of memory without a paging scheme. Memory adds a power load limit. You aren't going to make a Mustang Cobra act like a Prius in the mpg department without sacrificing something. You have a truly extreme system.
        MeMyselfAndI_z
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    [b]Today is the day that Intel widens the CPU performance gap between itself and AMD with the release of Sandy Bridge-E processors[/b]

    No kidding. And i guess that those benchmarks are not biased toward Intel, right ?
    timiteh
    • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

      @timiteh If you took the time to read the full comparisons by all of the top technical sites, you would find that they are mostly comparing processors using real world application performance. If AMD is slower running real world applications, how is that bias? Slower is slower. If you want cheap and are willing to sacrifice performance to get it, you buy AMD. That hasn't changed for many years.
      BillDem
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  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    AMD already has an Octa-core at 3.6 and its only $350, if you want to pay $1500 for 10% more performance(more like 5%) 2 less cores and 50% more powerusage. go ahead,
    I would rather buy 5 AMDs and overclock them and get away with smoking 4 of them to get the perfect max OC.
    erosmagnum
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    I don't think that even the i73930K is worth the extra money compared to the i72600 or coming i72700K. I have a i72600K CrossfireX rig and also a modest AMD AthlonX3 455 3.3GHz rig with a single HD 6870 I use for fun single player gaming. I don't power up enough to use the benefits of the i72600K and personally feel most people could get by with a i52500.

    As for the power efficiency issue I don't think that it is an issue at all. Simply, who really needs to overclock these processors? Also, socket 2011 is more of a server lead-in style architechure for a very expensive computer build. Even a Xeon is compatible here; and with the Field Of View limits being put on games for the enthusiast market there seems to be a narrowing market base for anything but benchmark competitors out there.

    Yea, and Ivy Bridge will no doubt be introduced as a laptop and oem desktop-M processor offering. You think so?
    Rob T.
  • slick! I want one

    But I'll never have it... not until someone is throwing one of these away 15 years from now. =(

    I'm lucky to have the i5 server I got when a client agreed to buy 2, one for me for setting theirs up and maintaining it. I'm not one of those "1%-er" bankster types that can print their own money out of thin air and get away with it.
    pgit
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    and Who cares if its unlocked? You don't buy a ferrari and put nitrous on it. There is only one place for intel and Invidia in my opinion. On a Mac. So Disney Pixar can pump out Car/toy 4 or whatever else they want. or Activision and Modern warefare 10. <br>If i had $1500 to blow, I would get that Bulldozer, and spend $1000 on Liquid Nitrogen or a vacuum argon cooling system(or just put the computer in a small industrial freezer) Overclock the Bulldozer to 6Ghz and still have 100 bucks to wipe my butt with.
    erosmagnum
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    I could outfit almost three computers with AMD's for the price of 1 Insmell (LOL). Makes sense to me, yeah right! "I can't stand InSmell!!!!!!!!!
    Disgruntled_MS_User
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    It doe's not matter most people can not afford one anyway! Intel chips have always been way over priced...
    InsiteFX
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    I'll wait for Ivy Bridge next year. Ought to be faster and a lot less hot and power hungry.
    jbaird
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    I would say that it wouldn't be worth the price unless you're really into overclocking, which is typical for Intel's high-end products. Not because of performance issues--I'm sure that it does very well in that regard--but because even the 3930K is at least 66% more expensive than the quad-core 2700K, which has a higher base clock speed and max turbo speed. Unless you're doing heavily multithreaded stuff (which largely amounts to video editing and 7zip, as most programs don't even take real advantage of two cores, let alone four or even six) or doing a lot of stuff at once, you're probably not going to get your money's worth, unless you put monetary value on bragging rights.

    And this has always been the thing with Intel's high end--the price curve as you go up the line more closely resembles a wall, because they've had a stranglehold on the high end/mega enthusiast for as long as I can remember and they haven't had to worry about AMD, Via, Cyrix, etc. getting their customers in this field for a long time.

    As another user is fond of saying, "It is a sick market. We all lose."
    Third of Five
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    Well from what i've read on newegg a lot of people are happy with the new chips! Check out there reviews.
    Intel is the best, even though they haven't figured out how to make these chips inexpensive and not raise your electric bill.

    Seriously AMD?
    I don't even want to hear it.
    SHAMKEN@...
  • RE: Intel rolls out Sandy Bridge-E processors. Is their extra power worth the price?

    Intel arguably makes the faster chips for power users and power gamers but nothing wrong with AMD w/ most games and for everyday use.
    preferred user