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Core i7 5960X vs. 4960X Performance Comparison

Written on August 29, 2014 by Matt Bach


Typically, a new CPUs is faster than it's predecessor - it is just a question of whether is it by a little or a lot. The new Intel 5960X, however, is not typical because it sacrifices clock speed in order to add more cores. More cores is definitely better from a forward-thinking standpoint, but currently there is a lot of software that is not coded very well for multithreading so the drop in clock speed may cause a drop in performance.

The Intel Core i7 5960X is an eight core 3.0GHz CPU that has a maximum turbo boost of 3.5GHz. This means that while it has two more cores than the Core i7 4960X, it also has a .5-.6GHz drop in clock speed.

CPU Specifications 5960X 5930K 4960X
Cores/Threads 8/16 6/12 6/12
Clock Speed 3.0GHz 3.5GHz 3.6GHz
Max Turbo Boost 3.5GHz 3.7GHz 4.0GHz
L2 Cache  8 x 256KB 6 x 256KB 6 x 256KB
Smart Cache 20MB 15MB 15MB
PCI-E Lanes 40 PCI-E 3.0 40 PCI-E 3.0 40 PCI-E 3.0

In this article we want to run a wide variety of benchmarks to find out what applications benefit from the additional cores and which suffer from the drop in clock speed. In order to provide another point of comparison, we will also be including the new Intel Core i7 5930K in our testing. It doesn't have quite as high of a clock speed as the 4960X, but it is high enough that with the other improvements in Haswell-E and X99 it may actually outperform the 4960X.

It's worth pointing out that while we are primarily focusing on the CPU, Haswell-E uses the new X99 chipset which includes many improvements including DDR4 support. So in addition to the CPU itself, the chipset and DDR4 RAM may very well affect our benchmarks. For more information on what is new in Haswell-E and X99 we recommend reading our X79 vs X99: What is new in X99 and Haswell-E article.

Test Setup

To benchmark these CPUs, we used the following hardware:

For the majority of our testing, we used two systems to expedite our testing. For the thermal and power draw portions, however, we used the exact same CPU cooler, chassis, and power supply to remove as many variables as possible. For the duration of our testing, the CPU fan was set to the standard QFan profile and the chassis fans were run at 5v.

All Windows, driver, and software updates were applied prior to testing.

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Tags: X99, Haswell-E, X79, Ivy Bridge-E, 5960X, 5930K, 4960X, Benchmark

A processor with 8 cores is good enough for most of people. So hopefully next gen will boost its clock to improve single core performance instead adding more cores.

Posted on 2015-07-03 19:12:56
John Og Elisabeth Andersen

I am pretty sure that the way it will go is more cores slower speeds for multiple reasons. One of the main reasons being, that we can make transistor smaller.

Visit my build here: http://computer.bazoom.com/dk/...

Posted on 2015-10-17 10:27:58
Daniel Padia

they did the exact opposite of what you said, lol. 6950x

Posted on 2016-06-01 23:41:54

Well to be fair they DID improve single core IPC performance by roughly 10%. A 4.4ghz i7 6800K is easily equal to a 4.7ghz i7 5820K. I've seen some people on overclock.net saying their ~4.3ghz i7 6900K 8 cores are as fast as their golden silicon lottery winning i7 5960X running at 4.7ghz. That's a "400mhz increase" in performance so to speak. (i.e. The broadwell-e gives identical performance to the haswell-e despite running roughly 400mhz lower max clock speed) And since, for example, the i7 6900K runs at a stock speed of 3.7ghz we can find out that my 10% estimate is pretty accurate, for example, 10% of 3700mhz/3.7ghz = 370mhz. If we add 370mhz to 3700mhz we get 4070mhz or 4.07ghz. That's DAMN close to the actual "400mhz" performance difference i just said people are seeing with Broadwell-E (technically its 10.8%, but that's close enough. i did say ROUGHLY lol)

So if we combine that knowledge of 10.8% increased performance on Broadwell-E and then factor in that the 8 core i7 6900K runs 200mhz faster than 5960X (3.7ghz boost clock speed compared to the 3.5ghz boost on 5960X) we can actually see the difference of what a "stock" 6900K would have over a stock 5960X.

3700mhz * 110.8% = Speed that a 5960X would have to run at to be as fast as a stock 6900K

3700mhz * 110.8% = 4099mhz, (i.e. 4.1ghz)

This means that a stock 3.7ghz 6900K is as fast as a 4100mhz or 4.1ghz 5960X. And since most Broadwell-E chips overclock to 4.3ghz or 4.4ghz if you push voltage (good samples can reach 4.4ghz at safe ~1.3v ranges sometimes) we can compare overclocked too

4300mhz * 110.8% = Speed that an overclocked 5960X would have to run at to be as fast as an overclocked 6900K

4300mhz * 110.8% = 4764mhz (i.e. 4.764ghz) That's a 476mhz increase!

So lets round the number and just say that a 4.3ghz Broadwell-E 6900K is as fast as a 4.75ghz 5960X!!

That's not a bad performance increase frankly, at least considering Intel's slow crawl of CPU gains lately. If you think about it, this is BROADwell, NOT SKYLAKE! But Broadwell-E is having as big of a performance increase over Haswell-E as we got moving from Haswell 4790K to Skylake 6700K!!

And if you can get a "gold silicon lottery" chip you're in an even BETTER situation comparing Broadwell-E to Haswell-E. Let's try a 4.4ghz which we know is possible at just over 1.3v on "good lottery chips", and then since HWBot has already shown a record of 4.6ghz on a 6800K we can assume 4.5ghz is possible at ~1.4v which is still "relatively" safe, so we'll use that too.

4.4ghz Broadwell-E * 110.8% = 4,875mhz!!! So a 4.4ghz Broadwell-E 6900K is equal to a whopping 4.875ghz 5960X!!! I don't think i've seen a SINGLE 5960X hit over 4.7ghz even on water cooling, only with phase change or liquid nitrogen!

Now, the finale. The "golden lottery winner" 4.5ghz ~1.4v chip

4.5ghz Broadwell-E * 110.8% = 4,986mhz!!!!! So a 4.5ghz Broadwell-E 6900K is equal to a fucking MASSIVE ~5GHZ 5960X!!!!!

Posted on 2016-06-20 09:00:05

Ok, now I feel bad about the used 5960x I just bought, thanks. :D

Posted on 2016-07-20 09:22:22

Which one of these benchmarks is most like calculating formulas in a massive Excel 2010 32-bit spreadsheet? If I had to guess, many upgrade taking place in the work place are inspired by the frustration of watching a slow calculation every time you open, make changes to or save a massive spreadsheet.

Posted on 2015-07-08 16:28:08

A good review with interesting results, Thanks.
It would of been nice to see some overclocking data too though. :)

Posted on 2015-07-22 11:55:37