In our three gaming benchmarks, the 5930K performs almost identically to the 4960X. The 5960X, however, sees a very slight drop in performance of about 1%. This is a really small performance variance, so at least for these titles and settings it appears that Haswell-E (and consequently DDR4) does not offer any performance advantage for gaming right now.
Temperature & Power Draw
Haswell-E CPUs have a TDP of 140W so we expected them to run hotter than Ivy Bridge-E which has a TDP of only 130W. Interestingly, however, both the 5960X and 5930K ran cooler than the 4960X both at idle, high CPU load, and high CPU+GPU load.
Our test systems are using QFan, however, so it is possible that the fan ramping is simply more aggressive on X99 than it is on X79:
At idle the CPU fan is running slower on Haswell-E so at least at that point Haswell-E is definitely cooler than Ivy Bridge-E. When running Prime95, the CPU fan is running a bit faster on the 5960X compared to the 4960X, but 55 RPM is nowhere near enough to account for the 5 °C reduction in temperature.
Prime95 + Furmark is about as heavy a load you can put on a system, and interestingly the X99 system ended up ramping up the CPU fan about 200 RPM faster than the X79 system. This indicates that our X99 motherboard has a bit more aggressive fan profile than our X79 board, but is once again not enough to account for the 6-7 °C drop in temperature.
In other words, even though Haswell-E has a higher TDP than Ivy Bridge-E, it appears that it actually runs cooler both at idle and load.
The total system power draw also surprised us a bit. We expected lower idle wattage since Haswell-E and X99 introduces a number of low power improvements (including DDR4), but the 30-40 watt drop in power draw under load is not something we expected.
Since Haswell-E sacrifices clock speed in exchange for more CPU cores, our benchmarks show two very different stories. Applications like Premiere Pro, AutoCAD, and HandBrake showed the benefits of the 8 cores on the 5960X, but others like Photoshop and Lame showed the downsides to the lower frequency found on Haswell-E. At the same time, our gaming benchmarks really didn't seem to care what CPU we used since the GPU is by far a bigger factor in those games.
In addition, there are a couple of benchmarks that show the benefits of using the latest generation of CPU regardless of the frequency or core count. For example, Linpack clearly shows the potential performance benefit of using the latest instruction sets. 350 GFlops is a very impressive Linpack score that until Haswell-E launched was frankly not possible with a single CPU system. In addition, the increased 3D performance in CineBench and AutoCAD is something we did not expect to see and is certainly due to something new in either the CPU, chipset, or possibly even from the new DDR4 memory.
While Haswell-E might not perform better than Ivy Bridge-E in all applications, the one area it is definitely better is in temperature and power draw. With the higher TDP we expected Haswell-E to run hotter than Ivy Bridge-E, so a 5-7 °C drop in temperature is a very nice unexpected surprise. The lower system power draw was expected to a degree, but we only expected a 10-20 watt drop, not the 30-40 watt drop we actually recorded.
Overall, Haswell-E and X99 feel to us like a platform of the future. It may not outperform Ivy Bridge in all applications, but the eight cores on the 5960X and DDR4 support makes it a much more future-proof platform than Ivy Bridge-E. In addition, the X99 chipset with native USB 3.0, ten SATA 6Gb/s, and M.2 support also leads itself to being a very forward-thinking platform. If you need the absolute best possible performance today, we highly recommend finding a benchmark for your specific application before deciding to use Haswell-E or Ivy Bridge-E. However, if you want a system that will last much longer and take advantage of future software improvements, Haswell-E is a much better choice in our opinion.