Intel 4960X vs Intel 4770K SLI Performance Review
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In our Intel Core i7 4960X review we stated that the Intel Extreme series offers the best gaming experience for high-end gamers. The reason being it isn’t limited by a 16 lane PCIe interface, instead the 4960X has 40 PCIe lanes. What does this mean though? Well, for the average gamer, or even most high-end gamers nothing, but for gamers with $1200 or more worth of graphics cards in their system the 16 PCIe lanes Haswell, or Ivy Bridge processors could be starving your graphics cards of the necessary bandwidth they need to run at 100%.
Forty lanes of connectivity are built into the Ivy Bridge-E processors and are divided into as many as 10 different ports. Since this is a high-end platform most motherboard manufactures include three or even four PCIe x16 ports, which run at 2x16/1x8 and 1x16/1x8/2x4 respectively. In comparison to Haswell, which has only 16 PCIe lanes, this gives Ivy Bridge-E over double the bandwidth.
The question is, with extremely powerful graphics cards on the market, such as the Nvidia GTX 780 and GTX Titan can is actually translate into better performance? Over the past few years the consensus has been, no, but, as graphics cards get more and more powerful the available bandwidth on any given platform could potentially be causing a bottleneck and reducing performance.
To gauge the gaming performance of the Ivy Bridge-E platform against Haswell, we had to make sure both systems ran on equal footing. To do this we increased the CPU clock speed from the default specification to 4.3GHz and also made sure the memory was running at the same frequency. We also went as far as to do a fresh install of Windows 7 on both machines and used the same ADATA SSDs. With both systems running on the similar hardware and the same drivers the difference in performance should only be due to benefits in the architecture, or vice versa.