Gaming Performance

Chances are that any gamer looking at an IVB-E system is also considering a pretty ridiculous GPU setup. NVIDIA sent along a pair of GeForce GTX Titan GPUs, totalling over 14 billion GPU transistors, to pair with the 4960X to help evaluate its gaming performance. I ran the pair through a bunch of games, all at 1080p and at relatively high settings. In some cases you'll see very obvious GPU limitations, while in other situations we'll see some separation between the CPUs.

I haven't yet integrated this data into Bench, so you'll see a different selection of CPUs here than we've used elsewhere. All of the primary candidates are well represented here. There's Ivy Bridge E and Sandy Bridge E of course, in addition to mainstread IVB/SNB. I threw in Gulftown and Nehalem based parts, as well as AMD's latest Vishera SKUs and an old 6-core Phentom II X6.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite is Irrational Games’ latest entry in the Bioshock franchise. Though it’s based on Unreal Engine 3 – making it our obligatory UE3 game – Irrational had added a number of effects that make the game rather GPU-intensive on its highest settings. As an added bonus it includes a built-in benchmark composed of several scenes, a rarity for UE3 engine games, so we can easily get a good representation of what Bioshock’s performance is like.

We're running the benchmark mode at its highest quality defaults (Ultra DX11) with DDOF enabled.

Bioshock Infinite, GeForce Titan SLI

We're going to see a lot of this I suspect. Whenever we see CPU dependency in games, it tends to manifest as being very dependent on single threaded performance. Here Haswell's architectural advantages are appearent as the two quad-core Haswell parts pull ahead of the 4960X by about 8%. The 4960X does reasonably well but you don't really want to spend $1000 on a CPU just for it to come in 3rd I suppose. With two GPUs, the PCIe lane advantage isn't good for much.

Metro: Last Light

Metro: Last Light is the latest entry in the Metro series of post-apocalyptic shooters by developer 4A Games. Like its processor, Last Light is a game that sets a high bar for visual quality, and at its highest settings an equally high bar for system requirements thanks to its advanced lighting system. We run Metro: LL at its highest quality settings, tesselation set to very high and with 16X AF/SSAA enabled.

Metro:LL, GeForce Titan SLI

The tune shifts a bit with Metro: LL. Here the 4960X actually pulls ahead by a very small amount. In fact, both of the LGA-2011 6-core parts manage very small leads over Haswell here. The differences are small enough to basically be within the margin of error for this benchmark though.

Sleeping Dogs

A Square Enix game, Sleeping Dogs is one of the few open world games to be released with any kind of benchmark, giving us a unique opportunity to benchmark an open world game. Like most console ports, Sleeping Dogs’ base assets are not extremely demanding, but it makes up for it with its interesting anti-aliasing implementation, a mix of FXAA and SSAA that at its highest settings does an impeccable job of removing jaggies. However by effectively rendering the game world multiple times over, it can also require a very powerful video card to drive these high AA modes.

Our test here is run at the game's Extreme Quality defaults.

Sleeping Dogs, GeForce Titan SLI

Sleeping Dogs shows similar behavior of the 4960X making its way to the very top, with Haswell hot on its heels.

Tomb Raider (2013)

The simply titled Tomb Raider is the latest entry in the Tomb Raider franchise, making a clean break from past titles in plot, gameplay, and technology. Tomb Raider games have traditionally been technical marvels and the 2013 iteration is no different. Like all of the other titles here, we ran Tomb Raider at its highest quality (Ultimate) settings. Motion Blur and Screen Effects options were both checked.

Tomb Raider (2013), GeForce Titan SLI

With the exception of the Celeron G540, nearly all of the parts here perform the same. The G540 doesn't do well in any of our tests, I confirmed SLI was operational in all cases but its performance was just abysmal regardless.

Total War: Shogun 2

Our next benchmark is Shogun 2, which is a continuing favorite to our benchmark suite. Total War: Shogun 2 is the latest installment of the long-running Total War series of turn based strategy games, and alongside Civilization V is notable for just how many units it can put on a screen at once. Even 2 years after its release it’s still a very punishing game at its highest settings due to the amount of shading and memory those units require.

We ran Shogun 2 in its DX11 High Quality benchmark mode.

Total War: Shogun 2, GeForce Titan SLI

We see roughly equal performance between IVB-E and Haswell here.

GRID 2

GRID 2 is a new addition to our suite and our new racing game of choice, being the very latest racing game out of genre specialty developer Codemasters. Intel did a lot of publicized work with the developer on this title creating a high performance implementation of Order Independent Transparency for Haswell, so I expect it to be well optimized for Intel architectures.

We ran GRID 2 at Ultra quality defaults.

GRID 2, GeForce Titan SLI

We started with a scenario where Haswell beat out IVB-E, and we're ending with the exact opposite. Here the 10% advantage is likely due to the much larger L3 cache present on both IVB-E and SNB-E. Overall you'll get great gaming performance out of the 4960X, but even with two Titans at its disposal you won't see substantially better frame rates than a 4770K in most cases.

Visual Studio, Photoshop, File Compression & Excel Math Perf Overclocking & Power Consumption
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  • sabarjp - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Kind of depressing that 3 years of technology only took the compile of Firefox from 23 minutes to 20 minutes. The high-end isn't looking so high these days. Reply
  • dgingeri - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    So where's the 4820k review? I don't care much about more than 4 cores, but I need more I/O than Haswell offers. (crappy motherboards that offer either 8/4/4 or 8/8/2 are just unacceptable.) I'd like to know how the 4820k overclocks and handles I/O from dual and triple SLi/Crossfire. Reply
  • Eidigean - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Visual Studio unfortunately does not compile in parallel the way you might think. In a solution you may have multiple projects. If one project depends on four other projects, those four will be compiled in parallel; one project per thread. Once the four dependencies are built, it can build the fifth; however, that last project will be built single-threaded.

    Xcode and native Android projects (with gcc) can actually build multiple files from one project in parallel. On an i7 with hyperthreading, all eight logical processors can build up to eight files simultaneously. This scales with more cores very nicely.

    In summary, VS builds multiple projects from one solution in parallel, while gcc builds multiple files from one project in parallel; the latter of which is much faster.

    I'm curious now to see the build times of Firefox for Mac on a rMBP with an i7. Eagerly waiting for a 12 core Mac Pro with 24 logical processors.
    Reply
  • BrightCandle - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Visual Studio is a very poor parallel compilation test. GCC with make -p can really utilise a lot more cores but its not very Windows like to use GCC (although I suspect many developers do that).

    I haven't found many Java builds doing well on multiple cores, and neither Scala. Its the unit tests where I get the cores going, I can saturate hundreds of cores with unit tests if I had them, and since I run them in the background on every change I certainly do get a lot of usage out of the extra cores. But a clean compile is not one of those cases where I see any benefit from the 6 cores. Of course I would hope these days we don't do that very often.
    Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    It is a poor parallel test, but it is a fantastic real-world test for a lot of devs. Reply
  • madmilk - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    About 25 minutes here on an 2.6GHz/16GB rMBP. Pretty much as expected for quad Ivy Bridge. Reply
  • bminor13 - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Parallel file-level compilation is possible in VS2010 and up with the /MP project switch. This is not enabled by default I believe for compatibility reasons. Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    A Haswell-E will most likely bring a different pin-count, correct?? So this X79 is a dead end platform any way you look at it. Buying the Quad IVB-E makes almost no sense whatsoever. Reply
  • Casper42 - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Most Intel chips use a Tick Tock release cycle. Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock etc
    Tick is an Incremental upgrade. Same socket and largely same design, but reduced lithography (32nm down to 22nm for example). Sometimes new Instructions but often not.
    Tock is an Overhaul upgrade. Uses same Lithography as the previous gen, but is a new internal architecture, often a new Socket, and where most new Instruction sets show up.
    Then you get another Tick.

    Core 2/Conroe was a Tock and was 65nm
    Core 2/Penryn was a Tick and was 45nm
    Core iX/Nehalem was a Tock and was 45nm
    Core iX/Westmere was a Tick and was 32nm
    Core iX/Sandy Br was a Tock and was 32nm
    Core iX/Ivy Bridge is a Tick and is 22nm
    Core iX/Haswell is a Tock and is 22nm

    So to say that X79 is a dead platform should not really be a shock to anyone. They got Sandy and Ivy out of it. Thats 1 Tock and 1 Tick and now its time to move on. They do this exact same thing in the 2P Server market where people spend $10K or more per server. The fact of the matter is the server market has already pretty much learned. Don't bother upgrading that server/machine, just ride it for 3-4 years and then replace it completely. SATA, Memory and CPUs have all changed enough by then you want to reset everything anyway.
    Reply
  • chadwilson - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Is the IHS soldered or using the cheap termal material? The issue with desktop IB & Haswell overclockability has been proven to be the cheap thermal material between the chip and IHS. If they have a soldered chip to IHS then this will be a decent upgrade over straight IB. Reply

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