Intel Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X CPU Review

Author: MAC
Date: November 14, 2011
Product Name: i7 3960X
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For those of you who aren't familiar with it, let's recap what Turbo Boost is and what it does. Turbo Mode is a performance enhancing feature that automatically unlocks additional speed bins (multipliers) and allows the processor to self-overclock based on thermal conditions and workload. For example, if the Power Control Unit (PCU) senses that only one core is active and the other three are in an idle state, it will use the unused power and thermal headroom to overclock that single active core to ensure superior single-threaded performance. Conversely, if you are running a multi-threaded application, the PCU will measure the thermal headroom and if the processor is running cool enough it will overclock all six cores. On the Core i7-3960X processors, Turbo Boost can provide a 600MHz frequency boost when 1 or 2 cores are loaded, 400MHz when 3 or 4 cores are loaded, and 300MHz in applications that utilize 5 or 6 cores.

Turbo Boost Off - Click on image to enlarge - Turbo Boost On

As we mentioned previously, with this implementation of Turbo Boost we never ever saw the default 3.3GHz clock speed, no matter how fully the cores were loaded. As a result, with Turbo Boost enabled owners of the i7-3960X can realistically consider 3.6GHz to be the stock frequency. It is basically a free and automatic 9% overclock, not too shabby.

Let's check out the performance gains that Turbo Boost can provide on this flagship part. We selected a nice mix of benchmarks with both light and multi-threaded workloads.

And you can see, and as mentioned above, with Turbo Boost enabled you can expect a minimum performance gain of about 9%. In very lightly threaded applications, that speed boost does increase up to about 17%, which is nothing to scoff at.

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