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 DX79SI Siler Mainboard

Included in the Intel Press kit was their high end X79 mainboard, baptised Siler. Everybody that is a bit comon with previous Intel boards knows that these boards are build around one central theme : stability. If you are looking for an abundance of features, most users would avoid buying an Intel desktop board and look for other manufacturers alike Asus, Gigabyte, MSI,... Secondly Intel mostly avoids any overclocking feature and hide their bios features as far as possible. Though this Siler seems to break a bit the normal Intel way of approaching things. Tri SLI/Crossfire-x, eight dimm slots supporting up to 2400Mhz overclocked ram speeds, power and reset buttons,... There's even an overclocking assistant in the bios, that allows presets up to 4.6Ghz. And last but not least an Intel Extreme Utility soft tool for Windows. Very unlike previous Intel boards I have worked with.

Here are some shots of the board we used during this review :










If you are used to eg Asus biosses you will be in for a nasty surprise. No idea which bios engineer likes the structures for the Siler's bios menu. They are just a complete wilderness to wade through. Why not make one tab with voltages, one with all sorts of clock settings, one for the rams,... ? But since this was the only X79 board that arrived in due time for a thorough test we had to stick with this board. Luckily it was pretty stable during most of  the testing. Though sometimes pretty stubborn in booting, once we messed with ram timings and co. My Hyper ram kit doesn't cooperate at all with the current biosses. The PSC based kits ran pretty good. But the weird thing was that all rams needed exuberant voltages to stabilise. How about 1.71 iso 1.65 for 2133Mhz ? Or even 1.75 for 2400Mhz rated kits that should work perfectly at 1.65Vdimm. I'll await a highly tweakable board from the other vendors to test these high specced rams on. So there will be an update to this initial review.

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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