Performance PC enthusiasts have been made to wait almost 12
months by Intel before getting their hands on the Extreme Edition of the Sandy
Bridge processors which has been such a success since launching at the beginning
of this year.
Intel has remedied this however with the introduction of the
second generation Core i7 chips (three of them) – known as the Sandy Bridge E, as well as an X79 chipset and
a new LGA2011 socket.
Top of the range is the Core i7-3960X CPU, a 3.3GHz behemoth
with six cores servicing 12 threads of processing power. One of the standout
features of the new CPU will be support for quad-channel DDR3 RAM but what real
world advantages this will have over the current triple-channel DDR3 is as yet
The Core i7-3960X CPU comes with 15MB of L3 cache which is
almost double the max on the older Sandy
Bridge chips and it can
upscale to 3.9GHz using Turbo Boost. However all this does not come without a
price, and the i7-3960X will cost around £840 on its own, with between £200 or
£300 more for the LGA2011 motherboard.
Looking at the other chips,
the Core i7-3930K will again offer six cores and 12 threads, will run at
100MHz slower that the 3960X and ‘only’ offer 12MB of L3 cache. It will set you
back £480 for the chip only. The Core i7-3820 steps down to just 4 cores and 8
threads, 10MB of L3 cache and it will run at 3.6GHz.
Both the lower end chips will fit into the new
LGA2011 socket meaning they will also need a new motherboard.
Are these new chips something that excites the tweaker
inside of you? Or is the high price point and need for a new motherboard too
much for you to consider an upgrade? Let us know in the comments.