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Review: Intel Core i7-5930K (22nm Haswell)

by Tarinder Sandhu on 10 November 2014, 13:30

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qack3j

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Introduction

Intel reasserted control of the high-end desktop space when it released the Haswell-E trio of processors at the back end of August. As the architecture name connotes, Intel has moved its entire premium desktop offerings to the Haswell architecture. Topping this trio is the Core i7-5960X - an eight-core, 16-thread beastie - followed by the Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5820K, both of which use the same six-core, 12-thread topology found in previous Extreme chips.

Applications able to take full advantage of the Haswell-E architecture benefit hugely from the increased processing count; Core i7-5960X has no performance peer. The performance angle is murkier when looking at the two other processors, because their muscle has been replicated before.

Let's take a quick peek to see how these extreme chips line-up.

High-End Desktop Models

Model
Cores /
Threads
CPU Clock
(GHz)
Turbo Boost
(GHz)
Process
Die Size
Cache
PCIe lanes
IGP
DDR Support (MHz)
TDP
Launch Price
(US 1ku)
Haswell Extreme Core Processor Family (4th Generation, LGA2011-v3)
Core i7-5960X
8 / 16
3.0
3.5
22nm
355mm²
20MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR4-2,133
140W
$999
Core i7-5930K
6 / 12
3.5
3.7
22nm
355mm²
15MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR4-2,133
140W
$583
Core i7-5820K
6 / 12
3.3
3.6
22nm
355mm²
15MB
28
N/A
Quad DDR4-2,133
140W
$389
Ivy Bridge Extreme Core Processor Family (3nd Generation, LGA2011)
Core i7-4960X
6 / 12
3.6
4.0
22nm
257mm²
15MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR3-1,866
130W
$990
Core i7-4930K
6 / 12
3.4
3.9
22nm
257mm²
12MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR3-1,866
130W
$555
Core i7-4820K
4 / 8
3.7
3.9
22nm
257mm²
10MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR3-1,866
130W
$310
Sandy Bridge Extreme Core Processor Family (2nd Generation, LGA2011)
Core i7-3970X
6 / 12
3.5
4.0
32nm
434mm²
15MB
40
N/A
Quad DDR3-1,600
150W
$999
Haswell Core Processor Family (4th Generation, LGA1150)
Core i7-4790K
4 / 8
4.0
4.4
22nm
177mm²
8MB
16
HD 4600
Dual DDR3-1,600
84W
$339
Ivy Bridge Core Processor Family (3rd Generation, LGA1155)
Core i7-3770K
4 / 8
3.5
3.9
22nm
160mm²
8MB
16
HD 4000
Dual DDR3-1,600
77W
$313

Core i7-5930K

Focussing on today's review of the Core i7-5930K, priced at $583 (£425), Intel is largely mirroring the absolute best processors of yesterday. Six cores and 12 threads on the Haswell architecture, clocked in at reasonable speeds and faster than the Core i7-5960X in this regard, provides stern competition for the Ivy Bridge Core i7-4960X and Sandy Bridge Core i7-3970X.

More cores and threads certainly help in multi-core-aware applications, thus enabling the Core i7-5930K to streak ahead of the regular, cheaper Core i7-4790K most readers are familiar with. The performance landscape changes slightly when sheer MHz comes into play, as it does in most gaming, where the Core i7-4790K quad-core chip often exerts greater impact.

A chip off the LGA2011-3 block

The obvious elephant in the Core i7-5930K's living room is the Core i7-5820K. Substantially cheaper but only marginally slower - both share the six-core, 12-thread, 15MB LLC design - Intel also reduces the number of available PCIe lanes from 40 to 28, though this is only a concern if you're running multiple graphics cards and a large number of add-in devices. Do know these 5000-series retail processors, like the one pictured on the left, don't ship with the usual included heatsink-and-fan unit. The onus is on you to provide the cooling.

Adding to the overall platform cost is the need to also invest in an X99 motherboard and DDR4 memory. A barebone solution - motherboard, CPU and 16GB of quad-channel memory - is likely to cost at least £800; a sum that would otherwise buy you a capable base unit based on other Core i5 or Core i7 processors.

Of course, these high-end chips are something of a backward step in terms of overall features; there's no integrated graphics, video transcoding assistance or, naturally, multi-monitor outputs. Users need to also invest in a discrete video card, pushing overall platform costs ever higher.

But if you're even contemplating the Core i7-5930K then such monetary concerns are less likely to be an issue: the X99/Core i7 is the premier desktop platform of 2014.