Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology
Unfortunately, over the past year while Core i7-3960X remained the top LGA 2011 contender, no other worthy challengers surfaced. So formally speaking, there is nothing to compare the new Core i7-3970X against at this time. It is undeniable that it will be the today’s fastest desktop processor, even without the tests. However, there still are a few nuances to keep in mind. Firstly, the major strength of the new Core i7-3970X is its ability to process up to twelve computing threads simultaneously, so it should demonstrate unprecedented results only in multi-threaded tasks. In more common cases, when the computing cores of this monster are not fully utilized, it could easily yield to the top LGA 1155 Core i7-3770K processor on Ivy Bridge microarchitecture that offers higher relative performance per core. Another issue with Core i7-3970X, is that the only compatible chipset, Intel X79 Express, failed to get fully certified for PCI Express 3.0. As a result, some contemporary graphics cards, such as GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 670 by default work in PCI Express 2.0 mode in LGA 2011 systems. None of the other contemporary desktop systems have issues like that.
All this indicates that it wouldn’t be fair to proclaim the LGA 2011 platform the fastest and ultimately universal solution. Therefore, we are going to compare Core i7-3970X not only against its predecessor, but also against the flagship CPUs for the other two desktop platforms – LGA 1155 and Socket AM3+.
As a result, our testbeds were configured using the following software and hardware components:
- AMD FX-8350 (Vishera, 8 cores, 4.0-4.2 GHz, 4 x 2 MB L2, 8 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge, 4 cores + HT, 3.5-3.9 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (Sandy Bridge-E, 6 cores + HT, 3.3-3.9 GHz, 6 x 256 KB L2, 15 MB L3);
- Intel Core i7-3970X Extreme Edition (Sandy Bridge-E, 6 cores + HT, 3.5-4.0 GHz, 6 x 256 KB L2, 15 MB L3).
- Processor cooler: NZXT Havik 140.
- ASUS Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX + SB950);
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel Z77 Express);
- ASUS Rampage IV Formula (LGA2011, Intel X79 Express).
- Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 (2 GB/256 bit GDDR5, 1006/6008 MHz).
- 2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX);
- 4 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX).
- Disk sub-system: Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5).
- Power supply unit: Corsair AX1200i (80 Plus Platinum, 1200 W).
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise x64.
- AMD Chipset Driver 12.10;
- Intel Chipset Driver 220.127.116.115;
- Intel Management Engine Driver 18.104.22.1688;
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology 22.214.171.1240;
- NVIDIA GeForce 306.97 Driver.