..:: Intel Core-i7 3960X ::..
When it comes to SNB-E and the 3960X, there can be no doubts that it is an absolute monster. With a die size of 435mm2, on a desktop platform no less, monster may be too nice of a term. It also rolls in with over 2.2 billion transistors. Pardon while I pick my chin up off the floor. Part of the reason for this behemoth size is that the die actually has an additional two cores integrated, but those are fused off. Nevertheless, the L3 cache takes up nearly as much of the die as all six active processor cores, offering us a full 15MB. To put this all into perspective, Gulftown, another six-core offering only weighed in at 240mm2 and had just shy of 1.2 billion transistors.
Sadly, until recently we only had a few choices when it came to SNB-E. But now, we have a more budget conscious offering, the i7-3820. The i7-3820 consists of a completely new die, and a smaller 10MB L3 cache. This makes it competitive with the high end SB offerings in performance and price, and also brings the added benefit of the additional memory bandwidth. For this review, however, we’ll focus on the i7-3960X’s performance. Just keep in mind that there is a SNB-E arriving shortly that won’t incinerate your wallet.
Now that we’ve got the X79 and 3906X out of the way, let’s take a look at the DX79SI and then onto what you’re actually here for, the performance numbers against the ASUS SABERTOOTH X58 and Core i7-965X.