Final Words

I remember writing a tepid conclusion to my Sandy Bridge E review almost two years ago. At the time, both the LGA-2011 and LGA-1155 platforms were on the same architecture - Sandy Bridge. My conclusion ultimately boiled down to how much having 6 cores mattered to you. As LGA-2011 was the only way to get more than 4 cores in an Intel desktop system, if you needed the cores it was clearly the better option. For everyone else, the more affordable LGA-1155 route made more sense.

Today, the arrival of Ivy Bridge E does little to change that conclusion. In fact, compared to Sandy Bridge E, the IVB version only adds about 5% better performance, while shaving off around 20W under load. To further complicate matters, while SNB-E launched before Ivy Bridge, Ivy Bridge E shows up months after Haswell's debut for the rest of the desktop space. If you want Ivy Bridge E, you need to be comfortable with the fact that you're buying into an older architecture.


SNB-E (left) vs. IVB-E (right)

Although Haswell didn't break any records when it showed up on the desktop, there are definitely situations where it is clearly faster than even the fastest IVB-E SKU. Anything that doesn't make use of all six cores on a 4960X will likely be faster on a cheaper Haswell based 4770K. My guess is that this covers not only the overwhelming majority of the desktop market, but actually a good portion of the enthusiast desktop community as well.

The other downsides remain intact as well. Intel's X79 chipset remains very dated, even more so now that we have Z87 with Haswell. A fresh coat of paint and updated firmware isn't enough to hide the fact that you only get two 6Gbps SATA ports and no native USB 3.0 ports. All motherboard makers have worked around this by adding a plethora of 3rd party controllers to their motherboards, but I tend to prefer the native Intel solutions from a validation and compatibility standpoint. You also lose QuickSync support as there's no integrated GPU, although the two extra cores do help video transcoding go by a lot quicker.

In what I hope will be less than 22 months, Haswell E will likely fix many of these problems. Until that time comes, your decision is pretty simple. Ivy Bridge E picks up where Sandy Bridge E left off. If you have the money to spend and absolutely need any of the following:

1) More than 4 cores,
2) More than 4 DIMM slots,
3) More than 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes

...then Ivy Bridge E is your only option, and it's not a bad one at that. My biggest complaint about IVB-E isn't that it's bad; it's just that it could be so much more. With a modern chipset, an affordable 6-core variant (and/or a high-end 8-core option) and at least using a current gen architecture, this ultra high-end enthusiast platform could be very compelling. Unfortunately it's just not that today. I understand why (Xeon roadmaps and all), but it doesn't make me any happier about the situation. Instead we're left with the great option that is Haswell/Z87. If what you need falls outside of what Z87 can deliver then you're left with a decent, but very compromised (and pricey) alternative.

Overclocking & Power Consumption
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  • ShieTar - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Whats the point? A 10-core only runs at 2GHz, and a 8-core only runs at 3 GHz, so both have less overall performance than a 6-core overclocked to more than 4GHz. You simply cannot put more computing power into a reasonable power envelope for a single socket. If a water-cooled Enthusiast 6-core is not enough for your needs, you automatically need a 2-socket system.

    And its not like that is not feasible for enthusiasts. The ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS, the EVGA Classified SR-X and the Supermicro X9DAE are mainboard aiming at the enthusiast / workstation market, combining two sockets for XEON-26xx with the capability to run GPUs in SLI/CrossFire. And if you are looking to spend significantly more than 1k$ for a CPU, the 400$ on those boards and the extra cost for ECC Memory should not scare you either.

    Just go and check Anandtech own benchmarking: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6808/westmereep-to-s... . It's clear that you need two 8-cores to be faster then the enthusiast 6-cores even before overclocking is taken into account.

    Maybe with Haswell-E we can get 8 cores with >3.5GHz into <130W, but with Ivy Bridge, there is simply no point.
    Reply
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    who cares if the power envelope is "reasonable"?
    i already have my SBE overclocked to 5.125Ghz and if they release a 10core i would oc that thing like a mutha******

    that link you posted is EXACTLY why i want a 10/12 core instead of dual socket (which i could afford if it made sense performance wise) - its obvious that video encoding doesnt work well with NUMA and dual sockets but it does work well with multi cored single cpu's

    so i say give me a 10 core and let me OC it like crazy - i dont care if it ends up using 350W+ i have some pretty insane watercooling to suck it up (3k ultra kaze's in push/pull on a rx480rad 24v laingd5s raystorm wb - a little over the top but isnt that what these extreme cpu's are for?)
    Reply
  • 1Angelreloaded - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    I have to agree with you in the extreme market who gives a damn about being green, most will run 1200watt Plat mod PSUs with an added extra 450 watt in the background, and 4GPUs as this is pretty much the only reason to buy into 2011 socket in the first place 2 extra cors and 40x PCIe lanes. Reply
  • crouton - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    I could not agree with you more! I have a OC'd i920 that just keeps chugging along and if I'm going to drop some coin on an upgrade, I want it to be an UPGRADE. Let ME decide what's reasonable for power consumption. If I burn up a 8/10 core CPU with some crazy cooling solution then it's MY fault. I accept this. This is the hobby that I've chosen and it comes with risks. This is not some elementary school "color by numbers" hobby where you can follow a simple set of instructions to get the desired result in 10 minutes. This is for the big boys. It takes weeks or more to get it right and even then, we know we can do better. Not interested in XEON either. Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    The 12 core models run at 2.7Ghz, which will be slightly faster than six cores at 5.125Ghz. You could also bump up the bclk to 105, which would put the CPU at 2.835Ghz. Reply
  • Casper42 - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    2690 v2 will be 10c @ 3.0 and 130W. Effectively 30Ghz.
    2697 v2 will be 12c @ 2.7 and 130W. Effectively 32.4Ghz

    Assuming a 6 Core OC'd to 5Ghz Stable, 6c @ 5.0 and 150W? (More Power due to OC)
    effectively 30Ghz.

    So tell me again how a highly OC'd and large unavailable to the masses 6c is better than a 10/12c when you need Multiple Threads?
    Keep in mind those 10 and 12 core Server CPUs are almost entirely AIR cooled and not overclocked.

    I think they should have released an 8 and 10 core Enthusiast CPU. Hike up the price and let the market decide which one they want.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    6c @ 5.0 will eat more like 200+ W instead of 130/150. Reply
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    For Sandy Bridge, we had:
    2687, 8c @ 3.1 GHz => 24.8 GHz effectively
    3970X, 6c @ 3.5 GHz => 21 GHz before overclocking, only 4.2 GHz required to exceed the Xeon.

    Fair enough, for Ivy Bridge Xeons, the 10core at 3 GHz has been announced. I'll believe that claim when I see some actual benchmarks on it. I have some serious doubts that a 10core at 3 GHz can actually use less power than an 8 core at 3.4 GHz. So lets see on what frequency those parts will actually run, under load.

    Furthermore, the effective GHz are not the whole truth, even on highly parallel tasks. While cache seems to scale with the number of cores for most Xeons, memory bandwidth does not, and there are always overheads due to the common use of the L3 cache and the memory.

    Finally, not directly towards you but to several people talking about "green": Entirely not the point. No matter how much power your cooling system can remove, you are always creating thermal gradients when generating too much heat on a very small space. Why do you guys think there was no 3.5GHz 8 core for Sandy Bridge-EP? The silicon is the same for 6-core and 8-core, the core itself could run the speed. But INTEL is not going to verify the continued operation of a chip with a TDP >150W.

    They give a little leeway when it comes to the K-class, because there the risk is with customer to a certain point. But they just won't go and sell a CPU which reliably destroys itself or the MB the very moment somebody tries to overclock it.
    Reply
  • psyq321 - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    I am getting 34.86 @Cinebench with dual Xeon 2697 v2 running @3 GHz (max all-core turbo).

    Good luck reaching that with superclocked 4930/4960X ;-)
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    All I really learn from these high end CPU results is that if you actually invested in high end 1366 in the form of 980x all that time ago, you've got probably the longest lasting system in terms of good performance that I can even think of. Reply

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