Intel Core i7-5960X vs i7-5930K vs i7-5820K Review 55

Intel Core i7-5960X vs i7-5930K vs i7-5820K Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Intel Core i7-5820K has an MSRP of $390.
  • The Intel Core i7-5930K has an MSRP of $583.
  • The Intel Core i7-5960X has an MSRP of $999.
  • Additional cores for future-proofing
  • DDR4 support
  • Enough lanes for triple and quad SLI (not 5820K)
  • Improved thermal interface material
  • High platform cost
  • Overclocking potential held back by DDR4
  • Not compatible with previous-gen LGA 2011 motherboards
There's no rationale for why one should spend over $329 on a desktop CPU right now, but then that's what the PC enthusiast segment is for. You want to be able to do things that will be mainstream 5 years from now to keep on going without having to bother with yearly PC upgrades. That's where Intel's HEDT (high-end desktop) processors carved a piece of the market for themselves. The Core i7 "Haswell-E" lineup ushers in a ton of new features for people looking to buy a future-proof desktop.

The Intel Core i7-5820K performs admirably for the same price ($389 MSRP) as the Core i7 Haswell Refresh/Haswell lineup and comes with 6 cores no less (albeit costlier motherboard and memory). I recommend the Intel Core i7-5820K for the high-end consumer who wants a 6-core Intel CPU without breaking the bank, as the platform can also take an 8-core CPU, which makes it future proof. Gaming performance compares and scales well to the Intel Core i7-5930K, and the x16/x8 available to this CPU in SLI are also enough for 2-way SLI/CrossFire setups.

The Intel Core i7-5930K comes with many benefits over the Intel Core i7-5820K, primarily its additional discrete PCI-Express lanes for GPU bandwidth and the fact that its 6-cores run at a slightly higher 3.5 GHz base clock for such an affordable price-point. It's important to note that if you plan on having 4-way SLI or CrossFire, this chip is your only gateway on the Intel platform, without having to use onboard bridge chips. The i7-5930K is what most people will go for just to future-proof their purchase more than the Intel Core-i7 5820K with its higher base speeds and x16/x16 SLI capability would. I also highly recommend the Intel Core i7-5930K to those who are into CPU-intensive tasks and need that extra minute advantage with 3D rendering programs/media applications. Is it necessary? Probably not, especially given the Intel Core-i7 5820K is roughly $200 cheaper.

For the real enthusiast, there is the 8-core Intel Core i7-5960X with its extra L3 cache and additional core processing power at a very impressive base speed. I recommend it to people looking into future-proofing their PC for at least 5 years, while enjoying excellent performance with 3D rendering/media applications. It could also offer a cost-effective alternative to costlier Xeon "Haswell-EP" chips in 1P workstations.

Upgrading from the Intel Core i7-4770K/4790K to the Intel Haswell-E lineup is not entirely necessary; that is, unless you really need those discrete PCI-E lane improvements for a 2-5 frames-per-second gain. If editing suites like Photoshop or Premiere, or even 3D applications like Maya and C4D rendering put bread on your table, the additional cores will no doubt be worth the upgrade.

For most current-generation gamers who don't plan on owning a 4K/5K monitor anytime soon because they are happy with their 1080p/1440p displays and, as such, don't need more than two current-generation graphics cards to run anything, the common "Haswell" desktop platform is already more than enough.

What also sets this platform apart from the standard Haswell is the cost of other key components, such as the motherboard and memory. Socket LGA2011v3 motherboards based on the X99 chipset start at $199 as compared to the $99 price-point at which socket LGA1150 boards based on the Z97 chipset do; the price-per-GB of DDR4 memory is also nearly double that of current DDR3 memory; and it will only become affordable once a future mainstream platform supports it. Then there's the case of wanting to buy at least four DDR4 modules to optimally utilize the chip's quad-channel IMC (though it will run with two modules in dual-channel just fine).

In conclusion, the Intel Haswell-E lineup offers a little something for all kinds of PC enthusiasts, as it is to be had at varying price-points and, thus, with different budgets. It starts off with the powerful and modest Intel Core i7-5820K and heads toward the mid- to high-end market with the Intel Core i7-5930K only to finish off with a work-station-durable Intel Core i7-5960X for the enthusiast. The lineup's pricing seems spot-on, serving as an intermediate between the standard "Haswell" desktop and costlier "Haswell-EP" workstations, which has us brimming to see what sort of well-priced innovation Intel can come up with next.
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