With the announcement of Intel’s Core i9 series of processors several months ago, there were a lot of questions left unanswered about them. Today, Intel has released a bevy of information about the processors. The higher-end i9 Skylake-X 7980XE processor will have an Extreme Edition with an incredible 18 physical cores and 36 threads. Intel had previously released speeds for its Core X-series through the i9 7900X. The latter is a $1,000 processor with 10 cores and 20 threads featuring a clock speed of 3.3GHz up through 4.3GHz – but that can be boosted up to 4.5GHz by using Turbo Boost Max 3.0.
All of the processors except the i7-7800X will feature Turbo Boost Max 3.0, which is set to make systems even more efficient than Turbo Boost 2.0, and will move the most important workloads to the processor’s faster cores. This technology isn’t meant to replace Turbo Boost 2.0, but enhances what’s there with a frequency boost to make your system more flexible. Turbo Boost 3.0 is perfect for anyone who needs to do a lot of 4K media work – like video editing. Gamers will benefit from being able to do 4K gaming, livestreaming, and even editing on the fly if need be.
The i9 7980XE’s base clock speed of 2.6GHz isn’t amazing, but it does have an impressive 4.4 clock speed using Turbo Boost – so if you need to hit a higher level, you can do so. Given that it is $2,000, it should hold up to any workload with 44 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 lanes and an L3 cashe of 24.75 MB – the highest of any of the Core X-series chips. The Core i9 7920X, i9 7940X, and i9 7960X processors are all fairly similar in terms of specs. The base clock speed of the 7960x is 2.8, while the 7940X is 3.1 and the 7920X is 2.9. However, these can be boosted up to 4.4 GHz via Turbo Boost Max 3.0 – while less stressful workloads can use Turbo Boost 2.0 if needed. The gains aren’t quite as great there, with 4.2 GHz for the 7960X and the 7920X and 7940X capping out at 4.3.
Intel also released a table showcasing the stock clock speeds for the Skylake-X parts, showing off some differences. Most of the high-end i9s don’t give up more than 100MHz at any given core load. The 10-core i9-7900X can hit 4.0 GHz on all cores, while a 12-core workload on the i9-6980XE and i9-7960X hits 3.9 GHz. There are some larger drops for higher-end workloads though, with the i9-7980XE dropping 100MHz when it gets to 18 and 18 core loads. However, even with an 18 core load, the i9-7980XE can still hit 3.4 GHz, while 16 core loads still allow the 7960X and 7980X to do 3.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz respectively. In a vacuum, this doesn’t mean much – but it does mean something in the company’s war with AMD.
AMD’s Ryzen line is competing with Intel for high-end desktop users, and that means good things for users. The Threadripper 1050X with 16 cores and 32 threads may not perform as well as the i9-7980X, but you only have two fewer cores to work with and save half of the overall price. For someone looking at pure value, the Threadripper line may be their best bet. AMD’s Threadripper line is available now, and is set to bring the stiffest competition yet to Intel. Gamers definitely stand to benefit from this competition as prices will fall over time and performance will stay consistent. For players looking to either create or possibly buy a pre-built setup, they should be able to find something within their budget and overall needs.
Any time you are planning a build, you need to figure out what your needs are and if those needs stand to change over the next few years. Ideally, you don’t want to have to make a new build every couple of years – so future-proofing and buying a little bit above what you would normally get may be a better long-term option. For those looking to turn gaming into a business, the increased productivity gained by higher-end processors can easily be justified because of how much less wasted time you will have using them. There is an old adage that time is money, and in an ever-changing market like gaming, that is as true now as ever.