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

    Or Starcraft 2? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Hahahaha.... best 1.5 core benchmark around! Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    It sure does murder one core though. Reply
  • BrightCandle - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    or Arma 3.
    There are games out there that can utilise more cores and yet you didn't test with any of them.
    Reply
  • bds71 - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    as someone who regularly does encoding, 4k gaming, and (when not in use otherwise) folding@home - all things which can fully leverage mult-core processors and powerfull GPUs - i look forward to these reviews of new enthusiast class processors. and, it saddens me that since SB-E there have been only marginal improvements in this sector. i never thought we (as a technology power-house, and as a society) would settle for this. for me, it all began when they started putting GPUs on-die with CPUs for desktop PCs (sure, for laptops i can certainly understand) - i mean who DOESN'T use a discreet GPU in a desktop system???? and for those who do, why don't you just get a laptop???

    GPUs on-die took the focus away from the CPU. and, while there are minimal gains to be had, the showing here today is abysmal. 2 yrs of waiting and we get a 5% increase (for what i do, i want power and could really care less about power draw - as i would say most enthusiasts do). i get it - to build more powerful hardware, it HAS to become more efficient, but it's an evolutionary development process. haswell could very easily be an enthusiast class product: get rid of the rediculous GPU (for the desktop), double the core count, and raise the TDP to 125/130 (haswell-E?) - and they could do it a LOT earlier than 1-2 years from now. come on Intel - stop screwing the guys who you built your reputation on (after all, it's always the fastest/most powerfull hardware that's shown in reviews to boost the reputation of any company).

    /rant off/ sorry, this is just very dissapointing.
    Reply
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    i agree very disappointing
    too much integration and not enough performance is the problem with modern intel cpus
    i dont want integrated graphics and vrm's and whatever else they plan on integrating - i want huge core counts in a single die for the enthusiast platform.!
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    I think what folks forget is -

    Just how many of these chips does Intel actually sell a year?

    I bet it's tiny. I bet the i3/i5 chips outsell them 50 to 1. Thats why stuff isn't happening at the top so much. The demand has dwindled. Ten years ago a lot of people could eat all the cpu power they could get their hands on. Now? Not so much. Plenty people now still happy with their 2008/9 spec quads. Basically these top end Intel i7 chips are the Mercedes S class. A way for Intel to put new stuff and techniques in, that may or may not filter down in the future generations.

    Intel knows the figures and it knows that the action is at the other end of the spectrum. Not for folks that largely want to rip video and run benchmarks all day.
    Reply
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    i agree they dont sell as many as the lower end cpu's but why not just sell us an unlocked xeon than can also OC?

    its not like they would lose money from letting us OC the xeon because the people that would normally buy a xeon for servers etc would never think about overclocking them

    then its a win/win situation for intel as they are still getting their xeon money and they will have a decent enthusiast cpu also
    and yes i would happily pay 1k (the price i can find current SBE 8 core cpu's) for an OCable 8 core
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Indeed and in being happy to pay $1000 for a CPU that puts you in a very very small group.

    Times are tough. Sell low and sell many.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    I believe the only way to get a specially binned or configured chip from Intel is to be an OEM and order a large volume. For an unlocked Xeon, the only chance Intel would release such a system would be under contract for a super computer contract that also used liquid cooling.

    OEM's like HP, Dell and Apple can also acquire specifically binned chips for a premium if the OEM wants something better or for a discount if Intel has excess inventories of low grade chips they need to sell.
    Reply

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