TODO alt text

Intel Xeon E5-2687W review

The real Sandy Bridge E processor

Our Verdict

By turning cores on but turning overclocking off, this eight-core Xeon is a zero sum game. Not cost effective on the desktop.

Product features

  • Processor Core : Octa-core (8 Core)

View full specification

For

  • EIGHT cores! Unbelievably quick at stock speeds Drop into any X79

Against

  • Sooooo expensive No overclocking

The new Intel Xeon 2687W may not be targeted directly at the desktop, but it will drop straight into any Intel X79-based PC motherboard with the LGA2011 socket and fire up like a trooper.

If you can afford the asking price, therefore, it is an option for a desktop PC.

Like the Intel Core i7 3960X, this new Xeon benefits from Intel's Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. As it happens, Sandy Bridge is expected to be superseded by the introduction of Ivy Bridge in just a few weeks. But Ivy Bridge will initially be aimed at more mainstream systems via the LGA 1155 socket.

For at least the next six months, Sandy Bridge will remain the engine powering Intel's very fastest processors until we see the Ivy Bridge E variants tipping up towards the end of the year.

The Intel LGA 2011 socket
The LGA 2011 socket will still be used when Ivy Bridge E tips up

Anyway, that makes the Intel Xeon 2687W a 32nm beast with no fewer than four memory channels.

It also means the 2687W doesn't get Intel's integrated HD Graphics and in turn misses out on QuickSync video transcoding.

Apart from the enabling of the final two cores inside the Sandy Bridge E die, where the 2687W chiefly differs from its Core i7 sibling is cache and clockspeed.

It's ever so slightly slower at 3.1GHz to the Core i7's 3.3GHz.

Nope, it's not a dramatic difference and it's a lot less than we were expecting after Intel told us it had disabled the final two cores in the Core i7 3960X because that made for the best balance between clockspeed and cores.

Turns out, you can have all the cores enabled without winding down the frequency significantly.

As for cache, it's 20MB plays 15MB, again in the Xeon's favour. The only other difference of note involves overclocking.

Put simply, you can't overclock the Xeon 2687W.

The multipliers are locked and the baseclock just won't tolerate more than a percentage point or two of tweaking. As we'll see, that's a serious blow to the Xeon's enthusiast credentials, but not unexpected from a chip designed for stability in a workstation environment.

But first, what about performance at stock clocks?

Well, the Xeon is quicker across the board, making it by far the fastest processor we've ever tested.

OK, it's not the full 33 per cent faster in multi-threaded software you might postulate from the transition from six to eight cores. But it's not a million miles away in several benchmarks, including professional rendering, video encoding and database crunching.

It's also barely any slower in single-threaded software, which isn't a huge surprise given the similar clockspeeds.

That said, there's not much evidence the extra cache memory has an impact on the desktop.

Of course, with this extra performance comes greater power consumption to the tune of an extra 40 watts under load. But much more of a problem is that overclocking limitation.

Crank a Core i7 3960X up to 4.5GHz and it delivers near identical performance to the Xeon 2687W, but for half the price.

Whoops.

We liked

"Comfortably the fastest processor we've ever tested."

Eight cores is what the Sandy Bridge E die has. Once you've paid for it, eight cores is what you should get. And that's exactly what the Intel Xeon 2687W gives you.

The result is comfortably the fastest processor we've ever tested.

It's also a drop-in upgrade for any X79. Yippee.

We disliked

The workstation and server market is a different world from that of the desktop PC.

The enormous price of the Intel Xeon 2687W may make sense in the former, but it's far too rich for the latter, especially when you consider the lack of overclocking support.

Final word

By turning cores on but turning overclocking off, this eight-core Xeon is a zero sum game.

As expected it's just not cost effective on the desktop, but still puts into question why exactly we don't have a full eight-core desktop processor in the desktop Sandy Bridge E family.

One thing's for certain; it's not a technical limitation.

Tech Specs

Product TypeProcessor
Processor CoreOcta-core (8 Core)
Thermal Design Power150 W
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Product FamilyXeon E5-2600
L3 Cache20 MB
Clock Speed3.10 GHz
Processor SocketSocket LGA-2011
Brand NameIntel
64-bit ProcessingYes
Thermal Specification67°C
QuickPath Interconnect8 GT/s
Width45 mm
Depth52.5 mm
L2 Cache2 MB
Product SeriesE5-2600
Compatibility
  • Intel W2600CR2L Workstation Board
  • Intel W2600CR2 Workstation Board
  • Intel S2600COE Server Board
  • Intel S2600COEIOC Server Board
  • Intel P4304CR2LFJN Workstation System
  • Intel H2216WPJR Server System
  • Intel H2312WPFJR Server System
  • Intel H2216WPFJR Server System
  • Intel H2216JFJR Server System
  • Intel H2312JFQJR Server System
  • Intel P4304CR2LFGN Workstation System
  • Intel H2216WPQJR Server System
  • Intel H2216JFFJR Server System
  • Intel H2312WPJR Server System
  • Intel H2216JFQJR Server System
  • Intel P4304CR2LFJNL Workstation System
  • Intel R2312IP4LHPC Server System
  • Intel H2312WPQJR Server System
  • Intel H2312JFFJR Server System
ManufacturerIntel Corporation
Product ModelE5-2687W
Product NameXeon Octa-core E5-2687W 3.10GHz Processor
Package TypeOEM
Product LineXeon
Manufacturer Part NumberCM8062107184308
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.intel.co.uk
Marketing Information

Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 Product Family

The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family is at the heart of a flexible and efficient data center that meets your diverse needs. These engineering marvels are designed to deliver the best combination of performance, energy efficiency, built-in capabilities, and cost-effectiveness. From virtualization and cloud computing to design automation or real-time financial transactions, you'll be delighted by better than ever performance and energy efficiency. I/O latency is dramatically reduced with Intel Integrated I/O, which helps you to eliminate data bottlenecks, streamline your operations, and increase your agility. The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family - versatile processors at the heart of today's data center.

Process Technology32 nm