Last year, Intel released its new high-end desktop platform, the X99, which uses the new LGA2011-v3 socket. The CPUs launched for this platform are codenamed “Haswell-E,” and the most high-end CPU lauched for this platform is the Core i7-5960X, which has eight cores (16 threads thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology), 3.0 GHz clock (3.5 GHz maximum clock, through Turbo Boost technology), and the support for quad-channel DDR4 memories. Let’s benchmark this beast and see how well it performs.

The new X99 platform comes to replace the X79 platform, and the main difference between the two is the support to DDR4 memory instead of DDR3. (Both support quad-channel memory access.) This platform uses the new LGA2011-v3 socket, which is not compatible with LGA2011 CPUs from the X79 platform. LGA2011-v3 CPUs can have 40 or 28 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, and the exact way they are connected to the PCI Express slot and devices will depend on the motherboard. Since it is targeted to the high-end user, processors from the X99 platform don’t come with an embedded graphics adapter.

The Core i7-5960X is the most high-end CPU from this family and, so far, the most high-end desktop processor available on the market. It has 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, base clock of 3.0 GHz with turbo clock up to 3.5 GHz, 140 W TDP, and supports DDR4 memory modules up to 2,133 MHz, in quad-channel configuration. It supports SSE 4.2, AVX 2.0, and AES instruction sets. The Core i7-5960X has eight processing cores, but thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology, it is seen as a 16-core processor by the operating system.

Figures 1 and 2 unveil the Core i7-5960X CPU.

Core i7-5960X reviewFigure 1: the Core i7-5960X processor

Core i7-5960X reviewFigure 2: the Core i7-5960X processor

One of the challenges we have in reviewing this CPU is that there is no direct competitor for it: the most expensive processor from AMD, the FX-9590, costs a quarter of its price. With that in mind, we included an FX-9590 CPU in our review anyway, since users usually want to know what is the performance difference between the most high-end CPU from Intel versus the most high-end CPU from AMD. We also included in our review a Core i7-4770K, one of the most high-end processors from Intel for its mainstream platform, the LGA1150, so users can see what is the performance gain they can expect from picking the most expensive CPU available today.

Core i7-5960X reviewFigure 3: the Core i7-5960X (left), the FX-9590 (center), and the Core i7-4770K (right)

Let’s compare the main specs of the tested CPUs in the next page.