Intel Core i7 3960X (Sandy Bridge E) Review: Keeping the High End Aliveby Anand Lal Shimpi on November 14, 2011 3:01 AM EST
Most games have a tough enough time stressing more than four cores, so the move to the 3960X won't do much for gaming in most cases (particularly when GPU bound). That being said, the added cache may help give SNB-E a slight bump over its quad-core brethren.
Civ V's lateGameView benchmark presents us with two separate scores: average frame rate for the entire test as well as a no-render score that only looks at CPU performance.
In GPU bound scenarios the 3960X is no different than the 2600K. Civ V is a unique game in that its CPU workload does scale reasonable well across multiple cores:
Here the 3960X is nearly 30% faster than the 2600K.
Dawn of War II
The larger cache helps give the 3960X a 9% advantage over the 2600K in Dawn of War II. At 1680 x 1050 the game isn't entirely GPU bound on our 5870.
We ran two DiRT 3 benchmarks to get an idea for CPU bound and GPU bound performance. First the CPU bound settings:
DiRT 3 is an example of a CPU bound title (at lower resolutions) that doesn't scale well with core count or cache size. The 3960X is barely 2% faster than the 2600K.
It is interesting to note that while SNB-E and SNB perform similarly here, both parts do offer a performance improvement over the Gulftown based 990X.
While id's long awaited Rage title doesn't exactly have the best benchmarking abilities, there is one unique aspect of the game that we can test: Megatexture. Megatexture works by dynamically taking texture data from disk and constructing texture tiles for the engine to use (note that Rage doesn't store textures in a GPU-usable format). As a result whenever you load a texture, Rage is transcoding the texture on the fly. This is normally done by the CPU.
The Benchmark: vt_ are all the virtual texture commands. Vt_benchmark flushes the texture cache and then times how long it takes to transcode all the textures needed for the current scene, from 1 thread to X threads. Thus when you run vt_benchmark 8, for example, it will benchmark from 1 to 8 threads (the default appears to depend on the CPU you have). Since transcoding is done by the CPU this is a pure CPU benchmark. I present the best case transcode time at the maximum number of concurrent threads each CPU can handle:
World of Warcraft
WoW does enjoy the 3960X's larger cache, here we see a 13% increase in performance compared to the regular Sandy Bridge parts.