Intel i7 6950X & MSI X99A GAMING PRO CARBON first touch

Discussion in 'Intel x86 CPUs and chipsets' started by booj, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. booj

    booj Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    1,484
    Location:
    Adelaide
    What a time to be a PC enthusiast! Whether you’re gaming, or creating content, overclocking or just love upgrading to the latest and greatest, then the rest of 2016 is looking pretty sweet.

    There’s new high end graphics cards, motherboards, fast 16Gb dimms, more NVMe SSD’s and now for the first time, a 10 core CPU for the desktop. A 6950X at 4G+, 2x GTX 1080, 4x16gb, SSDs and more SSDs, sounds pretty good, even if the wallet burns.

    I was able to grab hold of a 6950X just before Computex and have a bit of a play, though other commitments and a post Taiwan dose of the flu have prevented me from posting until now.

    While most folks who are interested in the 6950X will be well aware of the specs and what it can do, I will go over it a bit nevertheless.

    [​IMG]

    Let's get it out of the way. The 6950X is for those with deep pockets only. At this price you're well into Xeon territory and some smart shopping you can be looking into 2P systems or CPU's with higher core counts like the 14 core E5-2680 v4. It really depends on your usage scenario.

    While losing some features like ECC memory support and a lower official DRAM frequency are noteworthy losses compared the the Xeon families, probably the greatest gain for the consumer CPU's is overclocking, and it is this that will entice the high end enthusiasts towards the Broadwell-E range. There's something sexy about 10c/20t running at 4Ghz+. At these speeds, you're not going to want for computing power, though obviously it does come at a significant price.

    Go and tell a non PC person that this little thing costs $2500 bucks plus.

    [​IMG]

    Below is a look at the entire lineup. The 6950X creates a new price and product segment for the pro consumer and stands alone at the top. The other models pretty much follow common opinions on the Haswell-E range. The 6900K is great if you need the cores, the 6850K is great for multi GPU systems while the 6800K is the best value and will be by far the highest volume SKU. Despite it's PCIe lane handicap, it is irrelevant compared to Z170 plus you get 50% more cores with a 6800K vs a 6700K/Z170. The clock for clock loss of Broadwell vs Skylake is fairly minimal and now that X99 boards have been updated to the latest feature specs, a lot of PC enthusiasts will look at 6800K/X99 vs 6800K/Z170, particularly with a bit of OC to bring single thread performance closer together.

    [​IMG]

    There are some other pretty cool features that I won't go into too much. One of them is Turbo Boost 3.0. What this means is that the OS can assign a single threaded app to what it deems to be the strongest core. You can set this to the foreground application or from a list of chosen apps. Effectively, it sets the program affinity to the strongest core. I have not had time to dig into this more or get info, but it is a good idea on paper.

    Below is the die description. This shot shows the die with all 10 cores enabled. Cores and cache will be fused off for the lower models. It is manufactured on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate process and has approximately 3.2B transistors, with a die size around 246mm2. Compare that 3.2B to the 2.6B in Haswell-E, mostly due to the increased core count, yet is actually quite a bit smaller than the Haswell-E die (355mm2).

    [​IMG]

    At the end of the day, a user with an existing X99 and Haswell-E CPU will not gain too much from an upgrade, unless they want the best. Those with older systems are the ones who will gain the most. (Captain obvious)
    Thanks to Intel Australia for helping out with the slide deck here.

    MSI X99A GAMING PRO CARBON Overview


    Moving on to testing. I am using the brand new MSI X99A GAMING PRO CARBON motherboard. While every single MSI X99 motherboard supports Broadwell-E with a BIOS update, it does make sense to go with the later boards if you are new to the platform, primarily due to the much improved feature sets. I'll go into a few of these here.

    [​IMG]

    A visual inspection of the board shows the underrated 'Steel Armour' PCIe slots. This really helps with systems being shipped. I've had a system shipped from my PC store and had heavy a GPU ripped out of the PCIe slot (ever picked up a Lightning card?) You know couriers couldn't give two shits sometimes about a package so this makes perfect sense. There is support for up to 3way SLI and 3way Crossfire.

    The audio has been beefed up. There's dual headphone amps (for the rear and front of a case and support for high impedance headphones) EMI shielding and all the goodies you'd expect on a high end gaming board). Nahimic software brings all sorts of functions, from equalization to virtual 7.1 surround, voice control for streaming, and an overlay function to pinpoint sounds, like a radar.

    The red button is an auto OC button. There's 10 SATA ports, plenty of front USB 3.0 and it all comes with a nice neutral black carbon look theme to blend in with any system.

    [​IMG]

    One of the nice blingy things on this board is full RGB lighting support. It is surprising to me how many folks purchase motherboards based on their color, which is fair enough. With this board you can choose between something like 16 million colors, so no matter what your watercooling color, or case fan color etc etc, you can mix and match with a range of effects like strobing, waves, random and a bunch of others that can be easily controlled with our Gaming App.

    Down at the bottom of the board is a 4 pin header for connecting RGB lighting strips that can be controlled in exactly the same way.

    [​IMG]

    One of the key 2016 features in my opinion is U.2 support. It seems like SATA Express is DOA, but since it retains backwards compatibility with regular SATA, its probably better to have it there rather than not.

    To me, U.2 is the natural replacement for SATA. It retains the plug and play ease of use of SATA, and has none of the weaknesses of M.2 (like PCB size limitations, different key form factors, heating/airflow concerns particularly under hot graphics cards and possible difficulty of installation if you have an expansion card over the slot). Currently I'm aware of the Intel 750 series using this connector, but I can see this becoming more and more popular, and I hope the industry can unite behind this connector like it did with SATA.

    [​IMG]

    Next up is USB 3.1 Type-C support for modern cases. VR is expected to be the next big thing, and so having the fastest and most modern USB connector easily able to connect to the front panel makes perfect sense. This is where headsets will plug in most of the time, plus it gives you things like fast charging support for smartphones. The front USB 3.0 ports all have re drivers, so they can run long cable length not just to the front of the chassis, but further out to the connected device. They also have ESD protection to prevent damage to the system should a device crack the shits.

    [​IMG]

    Moving to the rear I/O, we have a P/S2 connector (still my favorite keyboard connector.. it just works every time.) 4 USB 2.0 ports (the black ones) Four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (one is type-C).
    There's also a clear CMOS button, gold plated audio connectors, S/PDIF optical out and the usual LAN port (Intel 218-V)

    I hate what the USB.org did with the naming scheme of USB.. 3.0 made perfect sense (5gbs) and 3.1 (10gbs).. but nooooooo they had to make it messy..lol

    [​IMG]

    Now, moving onto some benching. My time was brief, but I was able to get a clue on some things.

    Test Setup:

    [​IMG]

    Intel i7 6950X @ 4Ghz
    Intel i7 5960X @ 4Ghz
    MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon
    4x4Gb Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 2800 15-17-17-37
    MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning
    Samsung 850Pro 256Gb SSD
    Thermaltake Bigwater 3.0 (triple 120mm rad AiO watercooler)
    Antec HCP-1200

    First up is Cinebench 15. The 6950X scored 2042, with the 5960X scoring 1607. This actually better than a linear increase due to the cores and points to improved IPC (Extra cache??). In single core mode, the scores were 168 vs 159 respectively. Look at the spanking the 6950X gives to an oc'ed 4770K (which is to be expected of course) but it shows that if you need the cores, the 6950X is seriously quick.

    [​IMG]

    Next is 3DMark 11. The 6950X system scored 23990. The 5960X system scored 23398. Obviously the physics and combined tests are the main differentiation here with the 6950X scoring 65.23 and 88.52 vs the 5960X's 59.85 and 79.17 in the physics and combined tests respectively.

    [​IMG]

    Video encoding is a natural use for a high core count monster CPU. Time is money as they say. The 6950X scored 57.1 FPS in the X264 encoding benchmark. The 5960X scored 48.2.

    [​IMG]

    Next is Intel XTU. The 5960X scored 2608 vs the 5960X at 2104. I had the temps being recorded here. They are more than acceptable at a max of 55, though this is not a consistent bench for recording temps.

    [​IMG]

    Next was a SuperPi 32m test. This is the only circumstance where the 5960X was ahead, albeit by less than a second. Some different sub timings is the likely explanation for this.

    [​IMG]

    I ran Shadow of Mordor on the Ultra setting and saw exactly 0.1FPS difference which is within the margin of error. Now if you compared a stock 6700K to a stock 6950X, the result might be a bit different....

    Due to time constraints, I didn't have much time to spend on overclocking. I was not comfortable pushing past 4.3Ghz, simply because the the CPU started to get into the high 70's, even with a relatively strong watercooler. On air, i'd say 4.3 is about the limit. Maybe you can get yours stable there if you are lucky.

    I did run my favorite all time benchmark, 3DMark 06 at 4.4, but at 1.35v, that's about as high as i'd be willing to go. Certainly any heavy stress test loading all the cores would push power consumption and temperatures through the roof at that vcore. I'd suggest 4.2 to 4.3 to be the max daily SANE oc, though I cannot really say that after just testing one sample.

    In conclusion, it looks like the Broadwell-E architecture seems to follow the desktop Broadwell. It's a great low power chip even with a mild OC, but it quickly hits thermal limits. The OC scaling appears very steep and diminishing returns sets in very quickly. I would not call the 6950X a gamers CPU at all, at least until there are games that can scale well beyond 4 or 6 cores. For now, if you're a gamer, a 6700K would seem to be the best option, though one of the lower Broadwell-E SKU's with a pair of GPUs and all the mod cons would serve you just as well.

    As we've seen though, if you have the right workloads, then the 6950X looks very good. It's problem is that it runs into very competitive Xeon solutions at the $2500+ price point. If the 6950X replaced the 5960X at its price point, it would be a hell of a lot more enticing.

    [​IMG]

    The IMC appears to be improved in Broadwell-E compared to Haswell-E.
    I ran a quick test of 8x8Gb of generic Crucial 2133 C15 modules (just a standard JEDEC rated kit) was able to get them to 2666 C12. Not stable, but I think a little more vdimm will fix that. I think there's a lot more in this. 64Gb at 3000 C14 maybe? not bad for cheap modules!

    [​IMG]

    That about wraps it up for now. I think a pair of 1080's might be on my 'to do' list sometime in the future :D but my samples are out on other duties for now heh.

    Cheers guys :thumbup:
     
  2. Paulie_AU

    Paulie_AU Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2013
    Messages:
    3,483
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Nice one Booj,

    That is a nice board, noticed it last night when trying to decide if I need to move from 4930K and R4BE.

    I just want those physics scores :D Sad that is my only driver :wired:
     
  3. staffy007

    staffy007 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    red cliffs vic
    Great quick little review :thumbup:
    but for me to get this sort of gear I wouldn't have to ask the wife if I could, I'd have to sell the wife :lol::lol::lol::lol:
     
  4. OP
    OP
    booj

    booj Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    1,484
    Location:
    Adelaide
    Cheers guys,

    Yeah it's a great CPU, but that price... whoa..

    @ paulie yeah man the physics kicks ass. I wonder what an oc'ed 6900 can do since i hear the 6950X is a bit limited on ln2.

    @ staffy car repairs? remember, it's not a lie if you believe it :p
     
  5. Punster

    Punster Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    902
    Well at least I have the same motherboard, even if it is matched with a 6800K instead ;)
     
  6. xtreme2k

    xtreme2k Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    3,277
    Location:
    Sydney
    Thanks for sharing. Great to see what sort of speed to expect on a 6950X:D
     
  7. XavierX

    XavierX Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Wolli Creek
    nice overview

    6800K/X99 vs 6800K/Z170 i think there is a typo error. cheers mate i got myself a gaming pro carbon too but with old 5930k. but i think it's not worth upgrading cos the improvement is limited.
     

Share This Page

Advertisement: