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Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme CPU Performance Review

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CINEBENCH 11.5 Tests

Maxon CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses the computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on 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 Spider-ManStar Wars,The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more. CINEBENCH Release 11.5 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.

The CINEBENCH R11.5 test scenario comprises three tests: an OpenGL-based test that models a simple car chase (which I didn’t use for this test, since the graphics card performs most of the rendering work, and I’m testing the CPU), and single-core and multi-core versions of a CPU-bound computation using all of a system’s processing power to render a photo-realistic 3D scene, “No Keyframes”, the viral animation by AixSponza. This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores, and all rendering is performed by the CPU: the graphics card is not involved except as a display device. The multi-core version of the rendering benchmark uses as many cores as the processor has, including the “virtual cores” in processors that support Hyper-Threading. The resulting “CineMark” is a dimensionless number only useful for comparisons with results generated from the same version of CINEBENCH.

The first benchmark renders the scene using only a single core. Note that the per-core performance of the 5960X is actually slightly below the performance of the 3960X, despite the fact that the Haswell core architecture is supposed to be somewhat better in the “instructions per clock” sense than the older Sandy Bridge cores. But the explanation is simple: clock frequency still counts for something, and the 4770K ticks along at 3.5/3.9GHz (base and turbo) clocks, while the 3960X is 3.3/3.9, and the 5960X a mere 3.0/3.5. There’s a lesson to be learned here, which I’ll get to later on, but note how much overclocking helps.

cinebench_single

 In the multi-core benchmark, CINEBENCH 11.5 uses all the CPU resources it can grab, and here there’s simply no contest. We see a nice even scaling in the scores as we move from a four-core CPU (4770K) to 6- and 8-core CPUs.

cinebench_multi

As we can see, if you can keep all the cores working, the performance of the Haswell-E is impressive.


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11 comments

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  1. Chris

    On the last page, you wrote 48 vs 24 PCI-E lanes. I believe that should be 40 or 28 PCI-E lanes versus 16.

    In terms of value, it’s hard to justify this processor for most people. Only people with multi-threaded work can really benefit from this.

    I think though that the 5820k might be a decent value though. For perhaps $80 in a CPU compared to a 4790K and around $50-$100, you do get another 2 cores, which might be useful, although there will be a premium you have to pay for DDR4.

    1. David Ramsey

      What I said was “48 (total) PCI-E lanes as compared to the 24 lanes of an LGA1150 system”. Since I was talking about systems rather than CPUs, I included the PCI-E lanes provided by the chipsets as well.

  2. Ethan

    1. Page 2, you say Z79 instead of X79
    2. Page 8 says the RAM on the 3960X is running at 1066 while on page 2, you say that you are running 1600. Which is it?
    3. Page 8, you typed 3096X instead of 3960X.
    4. Why no clock for clock comparison? I mean in both the CPU and RAM speed, especially since you are giving tests scores with the 5960X being overclocked?

    1. David Ramsey

      Thanks for the corrections; I’ve updated the article.

      Clock for clock comparisons are are interesting if you’re into CPU architecture, or like to make people think you are. But there are so many other factors– amount of cache, clock speed which varies based on number of active cores, and so forth– that I think real-world performance tests are more useful.

      Overclocking results are never guaranteed. Of course I always include overclock results for the CPU I’m testing, and I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to include overclocking results from previously-tested comparison CPUs. Currently I don’t include them since it introduces another uncertainty into the comparison.

  3. Tradesman

    Why 1600 DRAM on 1150 and X79 – 2133 would have been more appropriate?

    1. David Ramsey

      Two reasons:

      — Neither the 4770K nor 3960X officially support DDR3-2133. It is a supported speed for Haswell-E.

      — In any case I didn’t have any DDR3-2133 available.

  4. Tradesman

    If you can put your hands on some 2133 (decent sticks) you’d be surprised at the change you’ll see, and both the 4770K and the 3960X both easily run 2133…

    ” 46.5 gigabytes per second is about 20% higher than we see from the late-2011 Core i7-3960X. As usual, overclocking the CPU has no effect on memory bandwidth.”

    OCing won’t have any real effect, but it’s an apples and oranges difference in the 3960X results when also running at 2133 (and that’s where the bandwidth differences in your charts come from – 2133 vs 1600)…

    The slow CLs in DDR4 have caused many to reconsider moving to X99

    1. David Ramsey

      Benchmark Reviews has been testing memory for many years, and we’ve never seen much real-world difference with expensive, high speed enthusiast memory vs. standard memory. Synthetic benchmarks, of course, will be different.

      There’s another reason I wouldn’t do this, though: when we test components, we try to isolate the performance of the component as most users would see it, not as most users with lots of money who will equip their systems with high end memory, SSDs, and so forth. By sticking to the supported memory speeds for each platform, I’m providing a more accurate look at relative CPU performance, rather than “Haswell-E with stock memory vs. Sandy Bridge E with unsupported high speed memory”.

      Still, testing each CPU with high speed memory on enthusiast motherboards would make an interesting article in its own right. Maybe someday…

    2. Caring1

      I run 2133MHz Ram in an Ivy Bridge system with an i5K series, it has no problems running in that, but as David says, there is no appreciable difference to 1600MHz, but it does give me that warm and fuzzy feeling knowing I have fast Ram. 😉

  5. spikey27

    It’s looking like the end of the line has been reached, with regard to heat-related issues, the overclocking tied to the heat, cost, and actually performance.

    So, Intel’s predictions about the demise – or maybe more correctly, the end of the development road – is rapidly coming into view.

    Except for the guys who actually need a zillion of everything (cores, PCI-E lanes) and just about everything else that keeps climbing with each new chip issue, and maybe the highest calibre gamers, it looks like everything has been invented, and the gravy offered by Haswell-E, etc. may not be such a necessity after all.

    Just my 2cents worth.

    1. Olin Coles

      Your comment reminds me of an editorial I wrote for this website nearly four years ago:
      Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs Chill Aftermarket Cooling. I argued much the same, and lost some sponsors in the process. Read more: http://archive.benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13488&Itemid=8

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