Product on Review: Core™ i7-4960X Extreme Edition
Manufacturer : Intel
Street Price: £769.99
It's been a little over 2 years since we reviewed Intel's Core i7-3960X CPU which blew us away with the stupendous amount of processing power available. Today we get to sample the replacement CPU in the form of the Core i7-4960X, the X signifying that this too is part of the Extreme Edition processor line-up.
The new processors architecture codenamed Ivy-Bridge is the successor to the Sandy-bridge range of CPUs for the ageing X79 chipset which was our only criticism of the 3960X, that and of course the astronomical price tag inherently attached to the Extreme range of CPUs. We are still waiting for an update of X79 which when compared to the Z87 based motherboards specification looks decidedly underwhelming. With X79 we still have no native USB 3.0 and only two native SATA 6.0GBps ports. The Z87 chipset also holds the advantage of having a CPU which is one step ahead of it's bigger brother with CPUs now based on the refreshed Haswell architecture, a step up from Ivy-bridge which forms the basis of today's CPU. It is important not to confuse the two processor lines though because the i7 Ivy-bridge E is a different beast altogether from its socket 1155 brethren.
First off there is no on-board GPU, instead the room used for integrated graphics is taken up by two extra cores and the extra cache afforded to the LGA2011 CPU. We cannot confirm or deny rumours that the future Haswell-E range of CPU's (if Intel do not skip straight to Broadwell-E)will also have on-board graphics processing omitted but we suspect this to be the case. The good news is that those who already have an X79 based motherboard will simply have to perform a BIOS update to accommodate the new range of CPUs which will help keep costs down. Going by the retail price of £770, any cost reduction will certainly be welcome!
Perhaps the biggest change though and the main selling point of the Ivy-Bridge E 4960X is the reduction in fabrication process from 32nm to 22nm which should equate to the new CPU being much more power efficient. For the overclockers this means less heat which hopefully will equate to higher overclocking. Our bomb proof Intel i7-3960X was capable of hitting 4.8GHz with regularity so we hope to reach this level with the i7-4960X as a minimum. Less voltage requirements and less heat production would obviously be welcome too.
Let's take a closer look at the specifications...