Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition Review (Haswell-E)

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅29-08-14

There's no doubting the awesome power of the high end Haswell-E, and you have no idea what a relief it is to say that. Marginal improvements across generations are fine, but nothing gets us as enthused as the sorts of huge leaps forward we see on display with the Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition. In ideal workloads a 30% improvement in performance is very much on the cards, despite the MSRP being near identical to its Ivy Bridge E predecessor. What more can you ask.

As with every high end desktop solution we still need to be mindful of just who is going to benefit from the platform, and once again it isn't gamers. Not only would your budget need to be astronomically higher than you should ever spend on a pure gaming system, PC games simply don't use multiple cores well enough to exploit the power of having eight available. Most are optimised for two, some for four, but eight is very much off their radar. Sixteen logical cores via hyperthreading? Forget about it.

That said, expand your workload and suddenly Haswell-E makes a whole lot of sense. This new CPU crunches through video editing and rendering like nothing else, greatly reducing turnaround times for edited video content. If your personal interests or professional life are in this arena, especially if render times are critical to your turnover, this CPU should be immediately on your radar.

One question we cannot currently answer is if eight cores are fundamental to the performance leap of the i7-5960X, and how that would reflect in other members of the range. We're looking forward to putting both the i7-5930K and i7-5820K through their paces in the near future to see if they are just as big a step forward over Ivy Bridge E as a whole.

When it comes to overclocking Haswell-E shouldn't leave you wanting. Complexity is a combination of X79 and Z97... easy to learn for large gains, hard to master but rewarding for those at the truly bleeding else. Professional overclockers will likely have a field-day. With fairly conventional high-end cooling (a Corsair H105) we were able to reach 4.7GHz without trouble; water-cooled setups should be able to reach greater heights as our 85C peak temperature indicated to us that heat was an issue.

Intel's Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition is not only an out and out performance leader, it is a huge step forward over its predecessors. Suitable workloads see major performance gains thanks in part to its 8-core architecture, whilst the platform as a whole has a major feature revamp over Ivy Bridge-E configurations including Thunderbolt 2.0, next generation storage and DDR4 support. Cost is a factor, but investing in the latest Extreme Edition will give you the fastest system possible, guaranteed.


+ Major performance improvements over the previous Extreme Edition
+ Significant overclocking potential
+ Overclocking rewards for both novices and experts
+ Improved feature set through the X99 Chipset
+ Same cooler mounting system as X79
+ Absolutely the fast CPU available

- Platform Price

= Overclockers will see a benefit from premium cooling due to relatively high temperatures.

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Our thanks to MSI, Corsair and Intel for providing some of the components crucial to this review

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