Intel's Sandy Bridge E chips are finally here
14th Nov 2011 | 08:01
But where's our eight-core processor?
This morning Intel launched its all-singing, all-number crunching Sandy Bridge E processors and brand-spanking new X79 motherboard chipset.
It's not messing around; these are the fastest desktop CPUs that have ever passed across our test benches.
The flagship CPU, the Intel Core i7 3960X, is right up there at the very top-end of processors, and all six-cores of its updated Sandy Bridge E architecture can be yours for nigh-on £750.
So it's no value proposition then.
There is not a little controversy surrounding it though as despite being sold as a straight six-core CPU the literature Intel has given reviewers clearly shows two dormant or dead CPU cores unused on the die.
We've gone into more depth about this in our full Intel Core i7 3960X review.
Still, it is a lightening-fast processor capable of the sort of raw computational prowess you wont see outside of the server environment. It's also no slouch in the overclocking department either, our review chip managed 4.8GHz in Asus's Sabertooth X79 motherboard.
It's not just the top chip that is an overclocking beast, and to demonstrate that we've been gleefully playing with YOYOTech's XDNA Platinum PC.
That's running the cheaper, mid-range Intel Core i7 3930K Sandy Bridge E running at 4.4GHz out of the box.
The other stand out feature of the new Sandy Bridge E processors and X79 chipset is the support for the next generation of memory; quad-channel DDR3.
Quite what improvements this gives, in real-world terms, over triple-channel DDR3 is rather intangible, and to be honest more indicative of the platform's server roots than any importance on the desktop.
If you want the full low-down on Intel's latest offerings, then look no further.
Check out our Sandy Bridge E reviews:
If you want the fastest processor on the planet, look no further. Most impressive is the additional overclocking headroom Intel has delivered over the old six-core chip. Platform upgrades including more PCI-E lanes and SATA 6Gbps are welcome, too.
Asus's RoG boards are all very well if money's no object. Back in the real world, the Sabertooth series offers a much more realistic compromise between performance, features and price. The chipset cooling and overclocking support look very solid. We certainly squeezed some great numbers out of the new Core i7-3960X.
With the XDNA Platinum sat on your desktop, purring away quietly as it does, with its cold-cathode tubes illuminating the clean lines of the immaculate interior, even £2,500 worth of buyer's remorse will have a hard job up against such an impressive machine.