Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture has been an unqualified success since its launch at the beginning of this year, but one thing it's been missing has been an Extreme Edition model for the performance-at-any-cost crowd. Consider that omission corrected today with the introduction of the Core i7-3960X, a six-core, 12-thread beast that breathes 3.3GHz of computational firepower. The new chip supports four channels of DDR3 memory, has 15MB of L3 cache, and can scale up to 3.9GHz using Turbo Boost, Intel's automatic overclocking. Of course, all that good stuff is offset by plenty of provisos, such as the inevitable need for a new socket, LGA-2011, a bulk price of $990 that will be well above $1,000 at retail, and a pretty daunting 130W TDP.

Today also marks the introduction of a matching chipset, X79, from Intel as well as the slightly less Extreme Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820. The unlocked 3930K is a trimmed down version of its EE sibling, with a 3.2GHz base clock speed, 3.8GHz Turbo, the same six cores, but only 12MB of L3 cache. It should be available soon for $555 in bulk, whereas the quad-core 3.6GHz 3820 is promised for Q1 2012. Both of those chips can also slot into the LGA-2011 socket, but the review sites have only been provided with the high-end 3960X Sandy Bridge-E processor at launch time. To read what the experts thought of it, hit the links below.