Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 – Ivy Bridge Xeon Review 4C/8T 3.7GHz


Moving up the stack to the fastest Ivy Bridge Xeon Intel has to offer, today we are looking at the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 which is currently Intel’s fastest Xeon E3 CPU coming with a 87w TDP, much higher than other Ivy Bridge CPUs but still 8w lower than the Sandy Bridge generation. Max turbo is boosted to 4.1GHz which like the 3.7GHz base clock represents a 100MHz increment over the Sandy Bridge Xeon E3-1290 V1 generation (3.6GHz/4.0GHz) and also makes this the fastest stock clocked Ivy Bridge available right now. Intel’s ARK lists this chip as the Xeon E3-1290V2 (no space) and for those wondering, here is the Intel ARK comparison between the E3-1290 V1 and E3-1290 V2 generations. I will say these things are not in stock like a lot of other chips. I had to borrow one to review since I could not purchase one at retail. It may be a good thing because street pricing is in the $875-900 range so this is one expensive chip, really pushing into dual Xeon E5-2600 series territory. Let’s take a look at the performance of the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2.

Test Configuration

Supermicro upgraded its X9SCx series to support the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 family so I decided to use one of the most popular Xeon E3 LGA 1155 motherboards, the Supermicro X9SCM-F for the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 reviews.

  1. CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2
  2. Motherboard: Supermicro X9SCM-F
  3. Memory: 16GB Kingston ECC 1600 CL11 DDR3 4x 4GB UDIMMs
  4. OS Drive: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
  5. Enclosure: Norco RPC-4224
  6. Power Supply: Corsair AX750 750w 80Plus Gold PSU and PicoPSU 150XT with 150w power brick for power consumption testing.
  7. OS: Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit

As one may recall, the Intel C204 chipset does not allow one to use the integrated graphics of the Intel E3-12×5 (V1/V2) series CPUs so it is best to pair the X9SCM-F with a Xeon E3-12×0 series CPU. The older C206 or newer C216 chipsets are better pairings for the E3-12×5 series CPUs with onboard GPUs. Just to note, the configuration above was calibrated to within 1w at idle and load of the previous generation’s Tyan platform. I spent many hours getting this to be as close as possible, but for release support reasons I needed to switch to the Supermicro X9SCM-F platform for this round of Xeon E3-1200 V2 series reviews.

Performance Tests

I will start off this section by saying that the standard test suite was built to test 1-8 thread single CPU systems such as the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Intel Xeon CPUs. With platforms like this one, I have been slowly altering the mix. Clearly, one would expect a different workload between dual Xeon E5-2690 CPUs and something found in a low-end, low-power server like a Pentium G630. Moving to the 16-64 core realm where the Xeon E5 series will play, that is becoming the norm today, I think that it will become ever more important to develop a second test suite.

Cinebench R11.5

I have been using Cinebench benchmarks for years but have held off using them on because the primary focus of the site until the past few months has been predominantly storage servers. With the expansion of the site’s scope, Cinebench has been added to the test suite because it does represent a valuable benchmark of multi-threaded performance. I have had quite a few readers contact me about this type of performance for things like servers that are Adobe CS6 compute nodes and similar applications. Cinebench R11.5 is something that anyone can run on their Windows machines to get a relative idea of performance and both Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-EP systems run it well.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Cinebench
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Cinebench

Here we see another nice improvement over the Intel Xeon E3-1280 V2. I did not get to test the E3-1290 V1 so sadly,unlike the other CPUs, I do not have a comparison. Looking at the other CPUs, there is certainly a pattern between the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge generations, so you could ballpark extrapolate the differences in the Cinebench and other reviews.

7-Zip Compression Benchmark

7-Zip is an immensely popular compression application with an easy to use benchmark.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 7-Zip
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 7-Zip

Again, the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 shows off some serious power here. It is the fastest, but remember, this is a $875-900 CPU.

TrueCrypt Encryption Benchmarks

With Intel’s focus on its AES-NI features TrueCrypt can look a bit skewed. Unlike some dubious drivers over the years that were optimized for benchmarks over real world application, Intel’s AES-NI feature does encompass the addition of specialized hardware. This specialized hardware has many practical uses and is becoming more supported. For example, users of Solaris 11 can utilize the AES-NI features to see much higher throughput on encrypted volumes. AMD has started offering AES-NI with their Bulldozer CPUs, and I will have those results added to future pieces. Let’s see how Intel does here.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 TrueCrypt
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 TrueCrypt

Again, the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 shows that it is the fastest Xeon E3 CPU out there, but not by a huge margin.

Handbrake 0.9.5 x264 Encoding Benchmarks

I am still using Handbrake v0.9.5 simply because the Handbrake team does do some nice tweaking between annual versions and all of the other CPUs have been tested with v0.9.5. We will begin to collect data on v0.9.6 and start using that once we have critical mass. Either way, Handbrake is an extremely popular x264 encoding and transcoding application as it is very common practice these days to encode video for various tablets, phones and other devices. These transcodes also take a fair amount of time so having faster CPUs is important.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Handbrake
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Handbrake

One big note here is that Handbrake is getting updated for GPU compute, and Intel has Quick Sync on its Intel Core i7 generation processors, such as the Core i7-3770K. For media encoding, if ECC is not an issue, the Core i7-3770K is still a better bet as that would allow one to overclock. I did want to point out here that this is a good example where the application is not scaling well due to filters involved to hit a given quality setting. Just because a CPU is faster, or has more cores does not automatically make it faster in an application.

Power Consumption

Intel’s move to 22nm is something hearlded as a new era in lower power consumption, especially with tri-gate technology and future process improvements that will increase that number. Using an Extech 380803 True RMS power analyzer which is a really nice unit that even records usage over time.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Power Consumption
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Power Consumption

Overall, this is about what we would expect from an Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 CPU. I think the min-max numbers are my favorite to look at because it does help one see what a difference from idle would be in a datacenter. Here we see a bigger delta over the other parts. One point I did want to make here is that chips do vary a bit so I have seen some variances chip to chip as I have seen more of these CPUs over time. Still, the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 does sip power compared to the Xeon E5 series.


The Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 is the fastest Ivy Bridge CPUs at stock clocks (the Core i7-3770K is faster when overclocking is enabled.) At $875-900 though for the E3-1290 V2 you can get an Intel Xeon E5-2630 CPU with six cores and the additional memory and PCIe bandwidth that has to offer, plus a motherboard. Of course the E5-2630 is a 95w CPU while the E3-1290 V2 is a 87w part, but if you can use cores over higher clock speed, that 8w is not too big. The Xeon E5-2600 series at 95w is not overly friendly towards an 1A at 120V typical colocation 1U power budget, where that 8w difference will mean a lot. Overall, I think Intel needs to do a pricing reality check here and with the Intel Xeon E3-1280 V2 and push the price down a lot. At around half of the retail price I think that would be “relatively” reasonable, but at over $900 the Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 is hard to justify unless you are in an ultra-dense rack and are trying to get as much performance as possible, but not in ways the Xeon E5 is better (e.g. more cores/ memory / PCIe 3.0 expansion/ option for second CPU.) For my money, I would look at the Xeon E3-1230 V2, Xeon E3-1240 V2 or the Xeon E3-1270 V2 as pricing is more competitive.

Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Summary
Intel Xeon E3-1290 V2 Summary


  1. Too expensive. Intel read this. I would buy at $400 US but current prices are crazy.

    Any word on E5-1650 pricing and why nobody has one in stock?


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