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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  • Snoopykins - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Excellent review. I must say the reviews Anand himself writes always seem to be spot on. One question, where does the 22 months number come from? Is that the scheduled/rumored/leaked release date of Haswell-E? If so, isn't that going to be even more behind than Ivy-E? I'm assuming Skylake will have been out for longer than Haswell has been out now, no? Also, do we know that Skylake will support DDR4? I've heard Haswell-E will.

    Anywho, thanks for the excellent review, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • eiriklf - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    22 months is about the time between the releases of sandy bridge extreme and ivy bridge extreme Reply
  • 1Angelreloaded - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Haswell-e will if they move to a new socket and board DDR4 probably won't be compatible with DDR3 DIMM sockets. Reply
  • hrrmph - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    Yep, that was a great review.

    It's not often that I think that a review really nails it all (at least for what I need), but this one did it. Very balanced, taking shots at the weak points, while also thoroughly explaining what is good about it, and who it might benefit.

    X79 is adequate only if you are willing to load your machine up with lots of add-in controller cards.

    Intel will really need to up their game on the chipset when Haswell-E gets here.
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    most modern x79 boards have all the add on controllers soldered onto the motherboard. Cards are not needed. Reply
  • just4U - Friday, September 06, 2013 - link

    With so few new things coming out in the desktop division these days Im sure Anand is quite fine to getting back into the trenches to do the odd review. Used to be (or so it seemed) every other day we were getting glimpses at exciting new things but these days that appears in the form of tablets and smartphones /w the desktop industry being somewhat stagnant in my opinion. Reply
  • dishayu - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    At this rate, as Anand suggests, Haswell-E will come out around/after Skylake based Desktop parts(assuming that is still on track for 2015 release). I am convinced that it would have been a better approach to skip Haswell-E altogether and jump straight to Skylake-E in 2015. This logic is further supported by the fact that next gen will require a new socket design (since Haswell comes with FIVR). Reply
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    there is still a node jump to go through. Most of the time this delays projected release dates. Broadwell may be late. Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    Since there is going to be a Haswell refresh in 2014, I'd expect Haswell-E to be introduced around the same time: roughly a year from now. The delay of Broadwell on the desktop will allow Haswell-E to catch up in cadence a bit.

    The new question is when Broadwell-E will arrive: with Skylake or vanilla Broadwell on the desktop?
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - link

    nice cpu for those that have an older platform (like 1156 or 1366 maybe) but as someone that already owns a 2011 socket cpu im still hoping they will eventually release 8 or even 10/12 core cpu's so i can encode vids faster
    cmon intel release those 8/10/12 core cpu's for the enthusiast platform.!

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