If it feels like we were just right here not to long ago talking about Intel’s latest CPU it is because we were. They launched their Devils Canyon CPUs about two and a half months ago and here we are again. The thing is, today’s launch is designed to be sold alongside of the I7-4790K. This is because officially the 4790K and everything else on the 1150 socket are considered mainstream products. The i7-5960X Haswell-E CPU I will be looking at is an enthusiast product. That means there aren’t limitations like the limited number of PCIe Lanes that the mainstream line runs into all of the time. On top of that we have twice as many cores, twice the ram, DDR4, and a big price tag like all of the other flagship CPUs. The 5960X will certainly not be for the light hearted or budget builds, but I’m excited to see how it performs compared to the model before it and the extremely fast mainstream chips that sell beside it. While I’m at it I’m going to see what king of room you might have left when it comes time to overclock as well.

Product Name: Intel i7-5960X

Review Sample Provided by: Intel

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes




It’s actually been four years now from the launch of the first 6 core consumer grade CPU from Intel. While they have been selling 8 and more core CPUs in their Xeon line, this is the first time they are selling an i7 with 8 cores. For the record with hyperthreading that is going to pack the performance tab in task manager with 16 CPU threads. 

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The new CPU does have a new Integrated Heat Spreader or IHS for short. It seems thicker as a whole. Intel also switched from using thermal paste on top of the die in to transfer heat to the HIS. They went back to soldering. This will make removing the IHS more difficult for those who are looking to try to get even better cooling. On the plus side of things it should also make the overall cooling performance better because it will transfer the heat out to your heatsink or water cooling more efficiently.

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Inside we can see that the eight cores are split in half with the shared L3 Cache in between. Speaking of the L3 cache they bumped things up to help support the additional cores from 15MB to 20MB. All of the I/O, Uncore, and Queue is handled up in the top section and the bottom handles the quad channel memory.

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Here is a breakdown of the main specifications of all three of the CPUs Intel is launching today along with the two main Devils Canyon CPUs. While I will be testing the 5960X, with its 8 cores and additional cache the 5820K caught my eye as well due to its price. It costs more than the top of the line mainstream CPU but you jump up to 6 cores, quad channel memory, DDR4, and get 12 more PCIe lanes. Interestingly enough the 5930K and 5960X get even more PCIe Lanes to play with. There shouldn’t be issues with having to cut PCIe x16 slots down to x8 or x4 with all of this bandwidth.

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With the new CPUs we also get a new chipset, X99. While it shares a lot of similar features to X79 there are a few big changes as well. The biggest change is the move to DDR4. We still get the additional bandwidth of quad channel but this time with additional room for up to 2133MHz on the ram. For comparison, Ivy Bridge-E did 1866MHz. They added much needed USB 3.0 ports to take it up to 6 USB 3.0 ports and 8 USB 2.0 ports. We also have more SATA 3.0 ports with a total of 10 on X99. They also slipped in full support for Thunderbolt 2 assuming the motherboard manufacture wants to add it.

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So to recap a little bit, here is a comparison of what X99 and Haswell-E has to offer in comparison to the X79 and Ivy Bridge-E that it is replacing.

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The retail packaging for the 5960X doesn’t really change from previous models. Intel has done a good job sticking to the same theme over the past few years to make it easy to spot their CPUs. It does make it a little harder to spot the difference between chipset and socket changes though.

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So officially, Intel is calling the new socket that supports Haswell-E Socket 2011 v3. It uses the same sized socket but due to the changes, especially the move to DDR4, they had to make sure Sandy and Ivy E CPUs couldn’t fit so the notches have been moved slightly. When comparing the 5960X to the 4960X in the photos below we can also see that they also added to the overall pin count as well, filling in the gaps that the Sandy Bridge-E CPU had.

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The hold down didn’t change though, so we have the same double spring design that can take a little getting used too. To help I took a few photos of how you open it up. You have to do one spring at a time and there is only one that will let you unlatch it until the other side is undone. Cooling solutions get to once again use the awesome hold-downs built into the socket itself rather than having to use supports behind the CPU like the mainstream lineup.

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Speaking of cooling, Intel isn’t selling the 5960X with a heatsink so you will have to pick up your own when building your rig. The Intel TS13X is the most recent version of their 120mm water cooling kit, basically every kit on the market should support the 5960X due to the socket not changing. You might want to consider a 120x2 length kit if you have room though. While our original Intel 120mm kit is still up and running on our GPU test bench, due to its age it gets a little warmer than I would prefer. The larger radiator would leave room for things to perform a little worse over time without getting hot at all.

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As I mentioned in the previous section, Haswell-E is also the launch of DDR4. To those of you hoping to carry over your old ram once again, sadly to go with an X99 motherboard and Haswell-E you will have to drop the DDR3 and pick up something new. This is going to upset some people I’m sure, especially the people who get frustrated with Intel’s frequent socket and chipset changes, especially when compared to Intel. But let’s look on the bright side, you get to be on the cutting edge and you also get to start fresh. For me considering how quickly this launch came up, DDR sampling was a little tight. At the time of this launch, we should have had two sets in hand to be able to compare performance on but delays made that unable to happen. Corsair was able to come through with a set of their Vengeance LPX in a 4x4GB configuration with a clock speed of 2666MHz with timings of 15-17-17-35.

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I’ll be completely honest, the RAM market as a whole is a little on the high side right now, this happens every time we go through a transition period like this. That means DDR3 prices are higher than they were this time last year and once the mainstream boards start to move to DDR4 you can expect that those prices to go up even more. On the plus side of things, DDR4 will start to drop as well. Currently our kit from Corsair has an MSRP of $374.99, so on top of picking up the CPU and a motherboard you will need to plan around that additional cost. Lucky for us changes like this don’t happen all that often, DDR3 came out in 2007 for example.

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So with the move to DDR4, what is changing? Well the biggest change is the lowered voltage and the increase in transfer rates. We are going from 1.5 or 1.65 to 1.2 volts. This should make a small change in overall power draw but also lower the strain on CPUs that are now starting to handle voltage regulation. The interest in higher transfer rates is fairly obvious, we are going from seeing 1333 and 1600MHz ram in average builds moving to 2166MHz and clock speeds will hit higher numbers easier. Corsair offers a 2800MHz DDR4 kit already, this is basically on par with their highest end DDR3 kits but we should see more advances in it later. The one area that is going to confuse a lot of people is the changes in latency. The latency’s on all DDR4 are going up but because frequencies are also going up it’s a little harder to tell.

Here is a comparison of the ram we are testing (CMK16GX4M4A2666C15R) with that is the second fastest kit in the Vengeance LPX line being compared to the second fastest DDR3 Vengeance kit (CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R).  To keep things simple I’m only looking at the first number, CAS latency.

DDR3 - 1866MHz 9-10-9-27

1866mhz CAS 9, (9/933)1000=9.6ns latency

DDR4 – 2666MHz 15-17-17-35

2666MHz CAS 15, (15/1333)1000=11.25ns latency

As you can see above the difference in latency isn’t as large as the original numbers imply. More importantly we have to keep in mind that this is only the starting point. Historically DDR2 actually slightly out performed DDR3 at launch until they turned up the clock speeds. Most of you might forget, but DDR3 launched with 1066 and 1333 MHz and we now sometimes see sticks capable of up to 3000MHz. Good things are coming in the future of DDR4 if history is any indication. Frankly even now I think it is very exciting.

As far as physical changes, DDR4 looks a lot like DDR3. DDR3 uses 204 pins where DDR4 uses 260 pins. They packed them in my spacing the pins .5mm apart rather than the .6mm of DDR3. Sticks are 1mm wider than before as well. They also moved the notch a little closer to the middle to prevent you from fitting a DDR3 or DDR2 module in a DDR4 slot.


Our Test Procedures and Test Benches

Our CPU Test Benches for each CPU tested

Intel Socket 2011v3 (Haswell-E)

Asus X99-Deluxe

Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz DDR4 4x4GB

OCZ Vector 150 120GB SSD

Western Digital Velociraptor 600GB HDD (for steam)

Thermaltake Grand 850W PSU

Noctua NH-U12S heatsink

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Dimastech Test Bench

AMD Socket FM2+

Asus A88-Pro

Kingston HyperX 128GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

Noctua NH-U14S heatsink

Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

AMD Socket FM2

Asus F2 A85-V Pro

OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

Noctua NH-U14S heatsink

Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Intel Socket 1150 (Devil’s Canyon)

Asus Z97-A

Kingston HyperX 3000k 240GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

Noctua NH-U12S heatsink

Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Intel Socket 1150 (Haswell)

MSI Z87-G45 Gaming

Kingston HyperX 128GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

Noctua NH-U12S heatsink

Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Intel Socket 1155 (Ivy Bridge)

Crucial Ballistix Tracer Ram 1600Mhz 2x2Gb

Intel DZ77GA-70K

OCZ Agility 3 120Gb SSD

Noctua NH-C14 heatsink

Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850Watt PSU

Two Nvidia GTX580’s for SLI testing

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Intel Socket 2011 (Sandy Bridge-E)

Intel DX79SI Motherboard

Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz Quad Channel Ram

Two Kingston HyperX SATA 3 SSD’s in RAID 0

Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC Water-cooling

Cooler Master Silent PRO Gold 1200w PSU

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Highspeedpc Test Bench

Intel Socket 1155 (Sandy Bridge)

Crucial Ballistix Tracer Ram 1600Mhz 2x2Gb

FATAL1TY P67 Profess1onal Series Motherboard

OCZ Agility 60Gb SSD

Noctua NH-C14 heatsink

Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850Watt PSU

Sapphire HD6970 BF:BC2 Edition for AMD testing

Two Nvidia GTX580’s for SLI testing

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Intel Socket 1366

Gigabyte G-1 Assassin Gaming Motherboard

EVGA Classified GTX580 Video card

Cooler Master HAFX Nvidia Edition Case

Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3 Ram 1600MHz

Cool-It Water-cooling

Cooler Master Silent PRO Gold 1200w PSU

Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue SSD

CPU Testing Procedures

Bioshock Infinite

Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Tomb Raider

Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Hitman: Absolution

Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Sleeping Dogs

Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

3DMark Fire Strike

Physics Score – Performance benchmark


1024M and 32M

X264 HD Benchmark

Pass 1 and Pass 2


CPU and CPU (Single Core results)

Passmark 8

CPU Mark Score

PCMark 7

Full benchmark Suite

Power Usage

Idle and load testing using a Kill-A-Watt and Wprime to put the cpu under load

PCMark 8

Home test is run both with and without OpenCL


CPU Performance

When it came time to finally start testing the CPU I was ecstatic. I jumped right into my favorite benchmark, Cinebench, because I couldn’t wait to see both an overall CPU performance number alongside of a single core number to see where Haswell-E compares to Haswell and Devils Canyon. I didn’t have huge hopes on the single CPU test due to the 5960X’s 3GHz clock speed, but it didn’t to bad. The lower clock speed showed in the single CPU score, putting it just below nearly everything Intel has put out on the high end for the past five years. This is still worlds above AMD’s APUs and not far from the other Intel 6 core CPUs I have tested. The 5960X showed up to the plate when it came time for the overall CPU score though with a huge jump over the 4960X. This is almost 48% higher than the speedy i7-4790K. I have a feeling if this CPU can overclock well back up to 4GHz or higher its going to be a monster.


X264 gave me an interesting result. The second pass, the one that I sort by in the graph below, pulled an impressive 78FPS. The first past though came in down in between the 4770k and the 3770k.


Passmark seems to take into account both number of cores and clock speed putting the 5960X in between the 6 core CPUs with high clock speeds.


For PCMark I went ahead and ran through PCMark 7 even though I am planning on dropping it. I really wanted to still be able to compare the results to some of the older CPUs that we have tested. I did still run through PCMark 8 as well using both the OpenGL test and the conventional to see the difference. Both tests favor the overall clock speed. This can be seen especially in PCMark 7 where two of the four Intel 6 core CPUs performed better than the 5960X even though we know overall it is a faster CPU.



Having 8 cores came in handy when it came time to test in wPrime. The 5960X rocked both results by a large margin.


The first real test that might indicate gaming performance was my run though of 3DMark Fire Strike. As you can see below the 5960X did very well, towering over the others.


Real gaming performance isn’t as always as cut and dry as 3DMark though. For the most part Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider aren’t dependent on the CPU for additional performance so the results are a wash. I like to include them to show that even with a monster CPU like the 5960X you are still going to run into a lot of games that will run nearly the same on almost anything as long as you have a great GPU. Of course Hitman is showing an interesting result with the older 3970 and 4960X leading by a huge amount. Their 6 cores and extremely high clock speeds perform help a lot but the eight cores of the 5960X helped it stay close to the 4790K with its high clock speed and half the cores. This is the one test that clearly benefits from both clock speed and number of cores. Bioshock on the other hand cares nothing about the number of cores you have, only how fast your clock speed is.






Cooling and Power

With eight cores and all of the performance the 5960X would be expected to put out a ton of heat and spin your electric meter like crazy but with it being a Haswell CPU I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The Original Haswell CPUs did well in power and not too bad in cooling, but Haswell-E Intel went with a soldered HIS for even better cooling performance. So I when running wPrime to put it under load I was able to get an idea of its power draw and heat generation all at once, there is nothing like hitting two birds with one stone. On the power side we are still pulling more power than the mainstream CPUs, this isn’t a huge shock with a TDP of 140. What is great to see is the big drop from the 3970X to the 4960X and then again to the 5960X. The Idle numbers looked especially great with it dropping down the the same 67 watts that the AMD APUs use at idle. It’s great to see Intel improving performance while dropping power usage at the same time. Also keep in mind these are the numbers for the entire PC, including the GTX 780


Using the exact same heatsink the 5960X really performed well in temperature testing. The results came in below both the 4770k and 4790k. I suspect that this is related to the clock speed as well, but none the less very impressive numbers, not even taking into account the extra four cores it has on the those two.




I broke my overclocking down into two stages. I actually ran the CPU through Asus’s TPU to see what it would automatically be pushed up too. Then from there I had a base number to be able to work from to try to extend the overclock even higher. My experience with Asus’s optimization has always been great and I was happy to see that they stepped things up even farther with optional testing that you can configure between each overclock. If you want, you can set it to test for hours after each overclock before trying the next one. This is great if you can’t afford to have it crash in the middle of your work.

In the end using the built in software I was able to get 4.7GHz out of our 5960X. To put that in perspective, that is a 42% increase across 8 cores. All without even touching the Bclk. From there I jumped into the UEFI and toyed with it a little more, upping the voltage slightly and I was able to get 4.8. At that point toying with the Bclk meant nearly a 50MHz jump for each one step. In the end, I was able to edge out just one before running into a temperature wall. This put us at an impressive 4.85, well above what some of the motherboard manufactures were telling me to expect. In fact they suggested a 4.6 to be a “good” CPU with 4.5 being more average.


Sadly the water cooling on our second test bench isn’t performing up to par, I would have loved to see if I could edge out a little more performance. I might just have to build a new build featuring the 5960X just to go a little extra crazy on the cooling and see if this hot chip won’t go to 5.0.


Overall and Final Verdict

Okay so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. Haswell-E is a major performance jump over Ivy Bridge-E, even when considering the lower clock speed. Having the two extra cores does make up for the clock speed deficit in most benchmarks but I did find a few that it didn’t excel at. When it came to temperature and power performance I was the most impressed. Intel managed to edge out more performance while dropping the idle and load power usage by large margins and this showed in the load temperatures.  

Going with DDR4 is also something to consider when going with the 5960X. DDR4 is extremely exciting but it will mean dropping your old DDR3 with your new build and starting fresh. Additionally DDR4 costs more than DDR3 currently and the selection is going to be a little limited while companies start to fil in their DDR4 product lines.

The bigges thing to consider though is the overall investment you will have to put down for the i7-59060X. Being the flagship CPU it is going to run you $999. That alone is enough to scare a lot of you off. Of course if you are looking at going with this monster your budget is going to be higher than the average build. Thank goodness for that because much like the previous 2011 and 1366 socket motherboards, the average board costs more. This is mostly due to the additional features you are getting, but packing in 8 DDR4 DIMM slots adds to the cost as well. In the end, to get a motherboard, CPU, and RAM similar to what I tested with you will be looking at something close to $1700 or more. Intel did consider this though and there are two more Haswell-E CPUs with much lower price points, so don’t discount X99 on the cost completely. Even with the lowest priced CPU you are getting more PCIe Lanes than an i7-4790K, not to mention the memory bandwidth. If you are planning on going with two or more GPUs in the future this is really the only good way to go.

In the end, it really depends on how you plan on using it, if your games and programs depend on clock speed you might want to consider the 4790K or even the 4960X, that is of course not taking into account if you need the additional PCIe lanes and memory bandwidth. For me I will take the small hit on software and games that are optimized for single or low core counts and roll around in all of my extra compute power, memory bandwidth, and multiple GPUs.


Author Bio
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #35511 29 Aug 2014 13:45
Well today is finally the day that we can take the lid off of our i7-5690X testing and show everyone how it performs. It's far from being the cheapest CPU out on the market, but what it misses out on in price it maybes up for in raw power. Check it out.

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