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Intel Core i9-7900X 10-Core CPU Review In Progress

Introduction

Intel’s 7th generation of high-end desktop processors (HEDT), known as the Basin Falls platform, is set to compete with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and upcoming Threadripper platform. These new Intel CPUs opt for a new socket and chipset–socket LGA 2066 on motherboards with X299 chipsets. As AMD looks to release several SKUs of Threadripper on top of the abundance of cost-effective Ryzen CPUs, Intel is coming out with a total of nine SKUs for its new platform; five under the Core i9 family, three as Core i7, and one as Core i5, which range from quad-core to 18-core multithreaded CPUs. All these new Intel CPUs are also branded as the X-series.

We were able to get our hands on the Core i9-7900X–the 10-core 20-thread Skylake-X CPU–for evaluation. It’s priced at $1000, which is about $700 cheaper than Intel’s previous 10-core 20-thread offering in the Core i7-6950X. As you can tell, HEDTs don’t come cheap since they’re meant to perform high level operations like video encoding and image rendering, even several of these operations at the same time. They’re not intended for gaming alone and are frequently targeted at “prosumers” who typically stream, game, and produce video content often simultaneously.

The following chart outlines all the known specifications of Intel’s new CPUs:

Intel 7th-Generation Basin Falls CPU Line

CPU Name Threads / Cores Base Clock (GHz) Boost Clock (GHz) L3 Cache TDP Price
Core i9-7980XE 18 / 36 TBD TBD TBD TBD $1999
Core i9-7960X 16 / 32 TBD TBD TBD TBD $1699
Core i9-7940X 14 / 28 TBD TBD TBD TBD $1399
Core i9-7920X 12 / 24 TBD TBD TBD TBD $1199
Core i9-7900X 10 / 20 3.3 4.3 (4.5) 13.75 MB 140W $999
Core i7-7820X 8 / 16 3.6 4.3 (4.5) 11 MB 140W $599
Core i7-7800X 6 / 12 3.5 4.0 8.25 MB 140W $389
Core i7-7740X 4 / 8 4.3 4.5 8 MB 112W $339
Core i5-7640X 4 / 4 4.0 4.2 6 MB 112W $242

An additional detail to note is that the i9-7900X, i7-7820X, and i7-7800X CPUs all support quad-channel memory. The i7-7740 and i5-7640X Kaby Lake-X CPUs only support dual-channel memory, however.

Pre-orders are now open for the i9-7900X down to the i5-7640X, which are all set to release on June 26. The rest of the Core-i9 CPUs, which don’t have final specifications, are slated to release sometime later this year.

Technical Details

Though i9-7900X’s cores have a stock clock speed of 3.3 GHz, it can reach up to 4.3 GHz with Turbo Boost Max 2.0 and 4.5 GHz with Turbo Boost Max 3.0. With these technologies, the two best performing cores will receive the biggest boost while the more taxing workloads can be directed to those cores. Each CPU in the X-series comes unlocked which means you won’t be bound by boost clocks and can overclock to your heart’s desire, given the right cooling and voltage circumstances.

The 7900X is built with the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process technology, which is currently the most advanced for the desktop processor market. It also sports the new Skylake-X microarchitecture, which handles more instructions per clock than previous geneations. It also trades L3 cache size for a larger, more efficient mid-level cache (MLC) compared to the last-generation Broadwell-E architecture. The 7900X supports 44 PCI-e 3.0 lanes, most of the Skylake-X CPUs so far.

Methodology

We’re in the midst of benchmarking this CPU and we’ll be comparing it to Intel’s previous 10-core 20-thread offering in the Core i7-6950X Broadwell-E CPU. As for an AMD comparison, the 8-core 16-thread Ryzen 7 1800X is most powerful from CPU currently on the market to compete against Intel since Threadripper isn’t out yet. Take note that the R7 1800X is half the retail price ($500) of the i9-7900X ($1000).

We’re equipped with Gigabyte X299 Gaming 9 motherboard, which received a BIOS update on June 16 to help optimize the performance of turbo boost technology. Our X299 system features 16GB of Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR4-2666 RAM in dual-channel, and all systems use the Nvidia GTX 1080 reference graphics card to help keep specs consistent across systems.

Performance

Cinebench R15

No Caption Provided

Cinebench R15 is a 3D image rendering benchmark that really makes the most of CPU cores, and for now, these results give small taste of the Core i9-7900X’s capabilities. It shows to be about 15.9% faster over the 6950X when we ran the multi-core test, and about 12.5% faster using the single-core test. In this regard, Skylake-X proves to be a substantial improvement over the previous Broadwell-E architecture. The 7900X is also faster than the R7 1800X by about 33.2% in the multi-core run and 17.4% faster in the single-core run. It shouldn’t be a surprise since the 1800X is an 8-core 16-thread CPU at half the price.

We look forward to analyzing more results as we complete our testing of the Core i9-7900X, which will include the following benchmarks:

  • POV-RAY 3.7
  • Blender
  • GeekBench 3.0
  • PC Mark 8
  • 3D Mark 11
  • X264
  • Star Swarm Stress Test
  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Bioshock Infinite

Full Review Forthcoming

There are plenty of benchmarks to perform and results to analyze in order to properly evaluate this new processor. So, we will be bringing out our full review of the Core i9-7900X later this week. Stay tuned.

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