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 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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  • Rick83 - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    If you really want that number of cores, Ivy Bridge E5/E7 Xeons are going to deliver that, in the 150W power envelope. This is useful in the server market, but will only sell in homeopathic quantities in the desktop market. Still, you should be able to find them in retail around Christmas. Knock yourself out!

    Really IB-E is a free product for Intel, which is the only reason it made it to market at all. They need the 6-core dies for the medium density servers anyway, which is where they actually make sense over SB-Xeons, due to the smaller power envelope/higher efficiency. The investment to turn that core into a consumer product on an existing platform is almost zero, short of a small marketing budget, and possibly a tiny bit of (re-)validation.

    This was never a product designed for the enthusiast market, and is being shoe-horned into that position. Due to the smaller die Intel can probably make better margin over SB-E, which is the only reason to introduce this product in the sector anyway, and possibly to get some brand awareness going with the launch of a new flagship.

    From an economical point of view it makes no sense for Intel to have an actual enthusiast platform. Haswell refresh will be unlikely to bring more cores either (and without the extra I/O they would be a bit hobbled, I imagine), so possibly with Skylake there will be a 6-core upper mainstream solution. Still unlikely from an economical point of view, as Intel would probably prefer sticking to two dies, and going 6/4 may not be economical, whereas selling 6-core CPUs as quads (as they do with 48xx) doesn't work that well in the part of the market that generates reasonable volume.
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    the problem with xeon is that you cant overclock them so my 5ghz SBE would be close to as good as a 8/10 core xeon

    i dont really care about why intel are not releasing high core count cpu's i just know i want them at a decent price ($1k and under) and overclockable - these 6 core ones just dont make the cut anymore

    i just hate the direction cpu's are going with low power low core count highly integrated everythiing, 5 years ago i was dreaming of 8 core cpu's being standard about now but we still have 4 (6 with sbe) core cpu's as standard which blows and per core performance hasnt really changed much going from sandy bridge to haswell

    i dont care about power and heat just give me the performance i want to encode highest quality handbrake movies in less than 24 hours.!!
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    "All" you want is Intel to invest a massive development effort in order to produce for the first time an overclocking CPU with a TDP of around 200W, with silicone for which their business customers would pay 2k$ to 3k$, and sell it to you and the other 500 people in your niche for less than 1k$?

    Intel already offer you a solution if you need more processing power than the enthusiast solution gives you: 2 socket workstation boards, 4 socket server boards, 60-core co-processor cards.
  • f0d - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    2 socket is inefficient for my workloads
    they could just release a xeon that is unlocked and let me do what i want with it - its not like the workstation/server guys would overclock so its not like intel would be losing any money
    no development needed
    2-3k? i can already buy 8 core SBE for 1k - why not let me oc that?
  • wallysb01 - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    Many would overclock when Intel is charging hundreds of dollars for just small GHz bumps. You won't seem the academic or large corporation clusters doing it, but the small businesses with just a handful of workstations? They might.

    Look at the 2660 v2 2.2GHz at $1590 and the 2680 v2 2.8GHz at $1943. That's $353 for 600MHz. On a dual processor system its $700, then you have to pay the markups from those actually selling the computers (ie Dell/HP), which takes $700 to $1000 or more. One small little tweak and you're saving yourself $1000, while not stressing the system all that much (assuming you don't go crazy and try to get 3.5GHz from that 2.2GHz base chip).
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    The catch though is that the mbds used for these systems don't have
    BIOS setups which support oc'ing, and the people who use them aren't
    generally experienced in such things. I know someone at a larger movie
    company who said it'd be neat to be able to experiment with this,
    especially an unlocked XEON, but in reality the pressures of time, the
    scale of the budgets involved, the large number of systems used for
    renderfarms, the OS management required, etc., all these issues mean
    it's easier to just buy off the shelf units and scale as required (the
    renderfarm at the company I'm thinking of has more than 7000 cores
    total, mostly based on Dell blade servers) and management isn't that
    interested in doing anything different or innovative/risky. It's easy
    to think a smaller company might be more likely to try such a thing,
    but in reality for a smaller company it would be a much larger
    financial risk to do so. Bigger companies could afford to try it, but
    aren't geared up for such ideas.

    Btw, oc'ing a XEON is viable with single-socket mbds that happen to
    support them and have chipsets which don't rely on the CPU multiplier
    for oc'ing, eg. an X5570 on an Asrock X58 Extreme6 works ok (I have
    one); the chip advantage is a higher TDP and 50% faster QPI compared to
    a clock-comparable i7 950.

    Sadly, other companies often don't bother supporting XEONs anyway;
    Gigabyte does on some of its boards (X58A-UD3R is a good example) but
    ASUS tends not to.

    Some have posted about core efficiency and they're correct; I have a
    Dell T7500 with two X5570s, but my oc'd 3930K beats it for highly
    threaded tasks such as CB 11.5, and it's about 2X faster for single-
    threaded ops. The 3930K's faster RAM probably helps aswell (64GB
    DDR3/2400, vs. only DDR3/1333 in the Dell which one can't change).

    Someone commented about Intel releasing an unlocked XEON. Of course
    they could, but they won't because they don't need to, and biz users
    wouldn't really care, it's not what they want, and note that power
    efficiency is very important for big server setups, something of which
    oc'ing can of course make utterly ruin. :D Someone said who cares about
    power guzzling when it comes to enthusiast builds, and that's true, but
    when it comes to XEONs the main target market does care, so again Intel
    has no incentive to bother releasing an unlocked XEON.

    I agree with the poster who said 40 PCIe lanes isn't ridiculous. We had
    such provision with X58, so if anything for a top-end platform only 40
    lanes isn't that impressive IMO. Far worse is the continued limit of
    just 2 SATA3 ports; that really is a pain, because the 3rd party
    controllers are generally awful. The Asrock X79 Extreme11 solved this
    to some extent by offering onboard SAS, but they kinda crippled it by
    not having any cache RAM as part of the built-in SAS chip.

  • wallysb01 - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    "It's easy to think a smaller company might be more likely to try such a thing, but in reality for a smaller company it would be a much larger financial risk to do so. Bigger companies could afford to try it, but aren't geared up for such ideas.

    Btw, oc'ing a XEON is viable with single-socket mbds that happen to support them and have chipsets which don't rely on the CPU multiplier for oc'ing, eg. an X5570 on an Asrock X58 xtreme6 works ok (I have one); the chip advantage is a higher TDP and 50% faster QPI compared to a clock-comparable i7 950."

    These two statements work against eachother. If OC a SP xeon is relatively easy, only if supported, there isn't much reason a DP xeon set up couldn't be OCed within reason without much effort.

    I'm not going to say this would be a common thing, but the small shops run by someone with a "tinkerer" mind set towards computing would certainly be interested in attempting to get that extra 10-20% performance, which Intel would change another $1000 or more for, but get it for free.
  • psyq321 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Z9PE-D8 WS has decent overclocking options (not like their consumer X79 boards, but not bad either).

    However, apart from a small BCLK bump, this is useless as SNB-EP and IVB-EP Xeons are locked.

    The best I can do with dual Xeon 2697 v2 is ~3150 MHz (I might be able to go a bit further but I did not bother) for all-core turbo.

    Even if Intel ignores the business reasons NOT to allow Xeon overclocking (to force high-performance-trading people to buy more expensive Xeons as they showed willingness to overclock and, so, potentially cannibalize market for more expensive EX parts) technically this would be a huge challenge.

    Why? Well, 12-core Xeon 2697 power-usage would literally explode if you allow running this on 4+ GHz and with voltages normally seen in overclocking world. I am sure the power draw of the single part would be more than 300W, so 600W for a dual-socket board.

    This is not unheard of (after all, high-end GPUs can draw comparable power) - however, this would mandate significantly higher specs for the motherboard components and put people in actual danger of fires by using inadequate components.

    Maybe when Intel moves to Haswell E/EP - when the voltage regulation becomes CPUs's business, maybe they can find a way to allow overclocking of such huge CPUs after passing lots of checks. Otherwise, Intel runs huge risk of being sued for causing fires.
  • mapesdhs - Sunday, August 13, 2017 - link

    Four years later, who could have imagined we'd end up with Threadripper, and the mess Intel is now in? Funny old world. :D
  • stephenbrooks - Monday, September 23, 2013 - link

    --[i just hate the direction cpu's are going with low power low core count highly integrated everythiing, 5 years ago i was dreaming of 8 core cpu's being standard about now but we still have 4]--

    So I got an AMD FX8350, that's 8 cores and 4GHz before turbo. Quite a bit cheaper than Intel's too.

    OK, obviously AMD gets less operations per clock and the 8 cores only have 4 "real" FPUs between them but I wanted 8 cores to test scaling of computer programs on without breaking the bank.

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