CPU Reviews, Reviews

Intel i7 5960X: The New King Is Crowned

Intel has just released the X99 chipset and the s2011-3 CPUs that goes with it, ushering in the age of DDR4.

The top of the line unlocked CPU is the 8 core/ 16 thread 5960X that has quad-channel DDR4 and 40 lanes of PCI-E 3.0. The 5960X comes in with a base frequency of 3GHz with up to 3.5 Turbo frequency.  The 8 cores have a shared 20MB of cache, and the CPU has a TDP of 140W.  This is no doubt the most powerful enthusiast CPU available and will be crushing the performance of the previous generation.  On release day HW Bot was flooded with new submissions and the world records were falling like dominos.  The records were set with the engineering samples that were sent out to Overclockers and Reviewers.

i7 5960X - bottom

i7 5960X – bottom


This will be a look at the previous king of the hill, the 4960X while comparing it to the 5960X. The highest stable clock achieved with the 5960X will be put in there as well.   Take a look at what can be expected from actual usage.  The 4960X and the 5960X were both ran at 3.6GHz with the NB at 3600MHz, while the memory was running at 2133 on both the DDR3 and DDR4.

Test System

  • Intel 5960X 3625MHz (125MHz x 29) and 4500 (125MHz x 36)
  • Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5
  • Corsair LPX DDR4-2666 4x4GB  15-17-17-50 ( @ 1T w/ NB @ 3600MHz  / @ 2133 15-15-15-35 1T for 3.6GHz)
  • MSI R9 290X Lightning
  • Cooler Master V1200 Platinum PSU
  • Corsair V64 SSD
  • Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme cooler
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Compared System

  • Intel 4960X 3600MHz (100MHzx36)
  • Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3
  • Kingston DDR3-2400 4x4GB @ 2133 11-12-12-30 2T
  • Patriot 128GB SSD
  • R9 295X2
  • Thermaltake 1475 Platinum
  • Corsair H100 CPU cooler
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
SiSoft Memory Bandwidth

SiSoft Sandra – Memory Bandwidth

The 4960X’s IMC still can hang with the 5960X in the integer memory bandwidth

AIDA64 - memory  benchmark

AIDA64 – memory benchmark


While the 5960X beats the 4960X in read and copy it really loses it in writing.  The 4960X also beats the 5960X handily in latency which was 59.7ns compared to 61.5ns when at at 4.5GHz.  This is in due to the much tighter timing that the DDR3 has, so we can hold out hope that we will see some DDR4 kits out that will have tight timing to be more competitive in this area.

SiSof Sandrat - Arithmetic

SiSof Sandrat – Arithmetic


It is very visible here that the extra cores are helping to provide some extra muscle, the jump to 4.5GHz really shows the improvement.

SiSoft Sandra - Cryptography

SiSoft Sandra – Cryptography


Hashing power more than doubles from the 4960X to the 5960X and almost triples when it is overclocked to 4.5GHz

3DMARK - Physics

3DMARK – Physics


The improvements are very noticeable in the 3DMARK tests and  it is visible that it scales nicely with the increasing speed.

Super Pi 32m

Super Pi 32m

The 5960X at the same speeds handily outpaced the 4960X in super pi , and it only gets stronger with the increased speed thanks in part to the massive bandwidth at 4.5GHz

WPrime 1024M

WPrime 1024M


Here the power from the extra cores is extremely visible in this benchmark at the same speeds.

Overclocking to 4.5 was a very easy to do, I was running it a bit higher than I wanted to, at 1.3v due to lack of time to tune down the voltage before writing needs to be done. It is evident that others are getting  4.5GHz at 1.25v and around 5GHz at 1.4v though proper cooling for that would involve at least a single stage phase change system for full 8 core/16thread operation.  There are a handful of LN2 results on hwbot currently for CPU test that range between 5.7-6.1.  Cooling is most definitely going to be the limiting factor should these be overclocked and pushed to the max.  Having said that there would be no reason to skimp on the cooling setup that would be paired with the CPU.

Do I really need this?

If you want the most powerful system you can build presently than this is the key part right now. The bottom line is that this CPU is a beast and it is hands down the best you can get, with that said if your budget allows for one of these then it should be in your cart at your online retailer.  The price is steep indeed, but there isn’t anything that can challenge the 5960X.  The key to this cpu is keeping it cool and that is something that should not be skimped on.  With a nice watercooling loop there is no doubt in my mind that 4.7GHz would be achievable for a system.  With a closed loop or really good air would likely be around 4.3-4.5. There will be more testing of the 5960X and that will involve sub-zero testing and a DDR4 roundup, as well as a look into other X99 motherboards.  The new stuff is definitely a blast to work with and I personally can’t wait to get more testing done as I have had a taste and now I am hooked.