Intel Sandy Bridge E 3960X CPU Reviewed

CPU by leeghoofd @ 2011-11-14

It's getting close to Christmas, new hardware is coming right at ya at the speed of light. Only a few weeks back Intels main rival AMD, launched it's brand new Bulldozer CPU. Targeted at the entry and mainstream audience and should have been a rival for Intels 2500K and 2600K. Sadly for AMD, depending on the program it would be either close to or miles behind the competitors processors. But you can read more on that story in the previous articles. Today the big silicon firm launches it's brand new X79 chipset, sporting a big 2011 pin socket and SB-E CPU. This is Intel's replacement for the aging X58 socket 1366 CPUs. No more triple channel rams, but we go one step beyond, meaning the socket 2011 is optimized for quad channel configurations. Big thanks to Intel to send the Shrimps one of the rare press kits. Time to see what this new technology brings to it's end users.

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Intel X79 Chipset

To support the socket 2011 and the quad channel operation Intel launches today also the X79 Chipset. Similar to socket 1155, only one chipset on the mainboard that regulates it all. Logic as the PCI-Express controller is integratd in the CPU die.  Less chipsets on our boards is good as it normally should reflect in a lower cost. Also we no longer need heatpipes running all over our boards connecting northbridge en southbridge.



Socket 1155 only had 100Bclock speed set and this allowed for RAM dividers from 800,1066, 1333, 1600,1866 way up to 2133Mhz. We saw a lot of 2400Mhz dividers in biosses, but none of them worked with the retail SB CPUs.

Intel now has got official support for 2667Mhz, But there's more, you can select an extra Bclock multiplier in the bios to go from 100 to 125 Bclock and even 165 Bclock. But don't immediately think this will boost the speed of all the components linked to the Bclock. Intel uses a buffer to regulate it all. But what it allows is a whole new set of ram dividers : 1000-1777-2221-2400-3000... However the 1.65x multiplier function did not work on our boards...

Now comes the lesser part of this chipset. At start Intel overwhelmed us with integrated USB3.0 controllers and up to 14 S-ATA connectors. When we look at the Intel Siler board ( included in the press kit ) we don't spot much of them promised features. Only 4x S-ATA 300 and 2X S-ATA 600 connectors on board. USB3.0 is no longer supported, so the manufacturers need to rely again on external chips for added S-ATA connectors and USB3.0. What the reason behind this stepdown is, noone realy knows.


For the quad channel rams there's still XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) version 1.3. We have seen ASrock introduce this memory support already a while back in august for their socket 1155 Z68 boards. What it all boils down to is that you have control of even more ram settings to fine tune it all. The most important vendors have quad channel kits XMP1.3 ready in all the speeds, quantities and colours you can imagine :)




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Comment from Gamer @ 2011/11/14
Nice one Leeghoofd !!!
Comment from Teemto @ 2011/11/15
Indeed, where does he find the time