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Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2 1 LGA 2011 Processor - BX80619I73930K

100% Positive Reviews


Pros: Fast, 6 core/12 threads, 40 PCIe lanes, quad memory, excellent IOMMU group separation/ACS, overclocking

Cons: Price, power consumption, heat, only 2*6GB/s SATA ports

I bought this rather expensive CPU for two reasons:
1. Good virtualization and IOMMU support (VT-d in Intel terminology);
2. Life expectancy.

Background: I was building a new rig that would run Linux as the host operating system and Windows as a virtual machine. The Windows VM has its own graphics card, which is passed through to the VM using a technology called VGA passthrough. The Windows virtual machine then runs practically at the same speed as when installed directly onto the hardware.

The 3930K processor offers a feature called IOMMU (VT-d). This is a must for doing VGA passthrough. Compared to Intels consumer type CPUs the 3930K has much more in common with the Xeon series of server CPUs, including excellent IOMMU support. Today (5 years later) many Intel CPUs are listed as supporting VT-d/IOMMU, but that itself doesn't mean much. The actual feature behind IOMMU is ACS or Access Control Services that separate different PCIe devices into separate IOMMU groups.

The 3930K cleanly separates different PCIe slots and devices into different IOMMU groups, whereas some of the consumer type CPUs that also support VT-d/IOMMU put different devices into the same group. There are workarounds (ACS patch in Linux) but no workaround can fix a sloppy design.

Another welcome feature in the 3930K is 40 PCIe lanes. The CPU comes without GPU which means that in my configuration I need 2 graphics cards to support Linux and Windows simultaneously. I also use a discrete Asus Xonar Essence PCIe sound card, and a PCIe SATA / USB3 controller board to support all the disks I've installed. In other words, my rig makes full use of the 40 lanes.

I use Linux for everyday tasks (email, web browsing, web design, etc.) and Windows 10 for photo editing in Lightroom and some other Windows/Mac-only applications. 5 years ago I had a 12MP camera, today I'm using 3 cameras with 12MP, 16MP, and 24MP. My next camera will likely have 36-40MP. I'm shooting RAW and all files have to be converted to jpg and/or tiff. What I'm saying is that today, 5 years later, the RAW files have increased to about double the size. Editing and conversion of these larger files takes more resources. Yet, the 3930K is still going strong!

In the past I would have to upgrade my computer hardware/CPU every 3 years, just to ensure a decent workflow speed when processing photos. With the 3930K CPU, I'm essentially running the same rig I built 5 years ago, except GPU and SSD upgrades/additions. The PC is keeping up with the higher demands from larger RAW files. Not only that, my workflow has changed and I'm using more editing steps and external software to create the look I want. This requires even more processing power.

So far I have been writing about my experiences under Windows. But my host OS is Linux. There the 6 core CPU really shines! Linux and Linux-based software is so much better in utilizing multiple cores. Running a backup of my Windows VM partition to a gzipped file using pigz for parallel compression crunches through 110GB in about 10 minutes - the speed being limited by my HDD drives speed. I converted my collection of ~1,500 music CDs to flac, using two CD/DVD drives to keep up with the speed. Ripping my DVD collection using handbrake was a breeze.

It is rather sad that commercial software such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, both under Windows, still cannot make good use of multiple cores (see Adobe Lightroom CC/6 Multi Core Performance). Whether this is the result of sloppy programming or company policy having priorities elsewhere, I can't tell. It is certainly not the fault of the CPU.

That said I'm actually hopeful in that future releases of these applications and other commercial software will improve multitasking and parallel processing capabilities. If and when that happens, this little old 3930K CPU may actually become better with age compared to recent 4 core brethren.

Will a newer CPU speed up my photo editing workflow? Depending on which CPU, yes. But the 3930K is still holding its turf against most of the newcomers. If I was to buy a CPU now, which one(s) would I consider:

1. i7-7820X - same price range as my current 3930K, but 8 core and higher clock speed on a X299 board;
2. i7-7740X - lower cost, lower performance, with 4 cores only on a X299 board - upgradable to the 7820X;
3. i7-7700K - same cost as 7740X, but cheaper motherboard options (Z170, Z270, for example)

Owning a 3930K CPU, the only way to significantly improve performance would be the i7-7820X. Since the 3930K has plenty of resources to process 24 MP RAW photos I can wait perhaps another 2-3 years before this build becomes obsolete and I need to upgrade.

5 years on the same CPU is an achievement, considering that I use it for image editing. I am hopeful that I can use this CPU/board for another 2-3 years. When comparing the 3930K with the choices at the time (i7-2600, i7-3770, both non-K since their "K" versions do not support VT-d), it's obvious that the other options would have been obsolete by now. The 3930K has been a good investment, and with each more year the investment becomes an even better one.

So far I didn't have the need for overclocking. But user reports show that it can be overclocked from 3.2 to at least 4.0, with 4.5GHz and more being the standard. That translates into a 25-30% performance gain which would significantly narrow the gap between the 3930K and current CPUs.

To sum it up: The i7-3930K 6 core CPU was/is a powerful CPU offering excellent multithread performance and rock-solid virtualization capabilities. With that much performance and the option for serious overclocking, this CPU still runs strong after 5 years and 5 new generations of CPUs. This is awesome thumb.gif.

The only reason I'm not giving it a 5-star rating is for the high power consumption and the heat it produces. It requires a good cooling system.


Pros: Very fast, Runs Decently Cool, Hexa-core

Cons: Tad bit expensive

First, I have to say, even from coming from a 3570k, this CPU was so much faster that the difference between the two was night and day. The CPU runs decently cool for being a 22nm Ivy, but still overclocks very nicely on air. I am using a Noctua NH-D14 2011 CPU Cooler and I was able to idle around mid 30's and Prime95'ed at 68°C @ 4.5GHz. This was a very nice chip to overclock with. There is still a chance to get a dud though so YMMV.

Newer games these days are making use of the extra core and hyperthreading and I've noticed big jumps in FPS as well as my minimum FPS. Games that are heavily CPU dependent will love these chips. (Metro, Total War, Sid Meier's, Battlefield, Skyrim, etc..)

Getting a chip that will overclock above 4.5GHz is a lottery. Many can do it, but some just can't. 4.8GHz is an even smaller chance to hit. For me, all I needed to do on my ASRock Extreme 6 was change the multi to 45, increase voltage to +.04v Offset, increase PLL to 1.857v (for stability), and increase VCCSA to 1.2v (16GBs of 2400Mhz RAM (some will not be able to run such high speeds), not required for everyone, depends on IMC)

Final Thoughts:
LGA 2011 has many great things to offer, even if you are already on Ivy-Bridge or Haswell. People coming from X58 will be astonished in the performance difference if they're been holding out this entire time. These CPUs won't overclock as easily as mainstream processors so more voltage may be needed than what you thought if you come from a mainstream CPU. You can find these CPUs for $350-400 if you look hard enough thumb.gif


Pros: It can do computer

Cons: a tad hot and a bit expencive

I wanted a high TDP and overclockable CPU to do CPU cooler testing. I got it! and then some.

SO far, the Noctua U14s is keeping it cool enough to mine cons well.


Pros: 6 cores/12 threads, OC

Cons: sucks lots of power and creates a lot of heat

this is a great cpu for a workstation. I do a lot of hardware virtualization on my computer so I can always use all the extra threads the only small issue with the thing is being able to cool it, I have this cpu running at 4.5 GHz @ 1.4v and my h100 only can manage keeping it at about 82C



Cons: NONE

:)4.7ghz stable and cool 49 to 60c maxed depending what im doing 30 40c Idle overclock. This is for high quality gaming and lightning fast video editing. compared to Intel Xeon E5-2660 Sandy Bridge-EP 2.2GHz (3GHz Turbo Boost) 20MB L3 Cache LGA 2011 95W 8-Core Server Processor priced at over 1000 its just as fast i think what i use at work.smile.gifsmile.gif Temps different depending on your CPU cooling hardware mine is water cooling Thank You Great CPU under 1000.


Pros: Overclocks just like 3960x but for half the price

Cons: Out of price reach for most

Super overclocker, I have it running 4.6ghz on stock volts and it does not produce that much heat. If you require the extra cores/threads this is a must.


Pros: A new defintion of Fast with a capital F, as good as a 3960X, cheap in comparison to it, runs cool

Cons: still fairly expensive

This processor is great. It's (almost) as fast as the i7 3960X, sometimes even faster, but costs only half its money. However, it still costs around 500$. That's the downside. The upside is that this CPU is the fastest CPU I've ever seen. Amazingly fast, it can handle anything - anything at all - I throw at it.

And it's running at cool stock temps. 25-30°C stock temps with an ambient temp of 15-20°C, so that's really good. What's even better is that I've effortlessly OCed this CPU to 4.7GHz and temps are only around 60°C at full 100% load, which is wonderful. smile.gif

So all in all: a great processor, worth its money in my opinion. smile.gif
Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2 1 LGA 2011 Processor - BX80619I73930K

Intel Core i7-3930K Processor 3.2 GHz, 32nm, Integrated Four Channel DDR3 Memory Controller, Hyper-Threading Technology, 12 MB Smart Cache, Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology, LGA-2011 package

BindingPersonal Computers
Feature12 MB Cache
Height3.1 inches
Length4.6 inches
Weight0.8 pounds
Width4.2 inches
List Price$694.00
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
TitleIntel Core i7-3930K 3.2 1 LGA 2011 Processor - BX80619I73930K
Warranty3 years
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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