An anonymous reader writes: A couple of weeks ago Intel launched the successor to their high performance Gulftown chips and X68 Express platform. Sandy Bridge-E and its accompanying X79 chipset represents the new high-end in Intel's line of desktop processors. Requiring the new LGA 2011 socket and sporting a quad-channel memory controller, Sandy Bridge-E is no mere incremental upgrade. The flagship Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition retails for a whopping $1,000, like the Core i7-990X before it.
Tack on a pricey new motherboard and four-channel memory kit, and it's easy to understand why cautious buyers are holding off until the less expensive Ivy Bridge design arrives next year. Not entirely dismissing Sandy Bridge-E as a rich man's luxury, the Tom's Hardware guys went out and bought the $600 Core i7-3930K and somehow got their hands on the [purportedly] sub-$300 unreleased Core i7-3820 to see if either is more reasonable than the ridiculously-priced Core i7-3960X.
This article pits all three Sandy Bridge-E chips against Intel's mainstream Sandy Bridge and previous-generation Gulftown processors, as well as Zambesi (FX), Thuban, and Deneb chips from AMD. Long story short, the Core i7-3930K is a much better value for performance-minded enthusiasts, overclockers, and workstation users alike. While most folks will continue waiting for Ivy Bridge, the author is pretty confident they won't be able to match an overclocked Core i7-3930K, and if Intel extends the life of LGA 2011 to Ivy Bridge-E, Sandy Bridge-E may very well be a solid long-term prospect.