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Intel launches its first 10-core desktop processor

by on31 May 2016

Core i7 6950X, Core i7 6900K, Core i7 6850K and Core 6800K now available

Back in December, we wrote that Intel would be officially lifting the veil off its very first 10-core consumer desktop processor at Computex 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan. This week, the time has now arrived and Intel has just revealed its entire lineup of 14-nanometer High-End Desktop (HEDT) Broadwell-E CPUs for its X99 desktop platform, based on socket LGA 2011-v3.

intel core i7 6950x overview

Intel's Core i7 6950X features 10 cores, 20 threads and supports Turbo Boost 3.0

First up on the list is the long-awaited Core i7 6950X, the company’s first 10-core consumer desktop processor featuring a 3.0GHz base clock and a 3.50GHz Turbo clock. The chip features 20 threads, 25MB of L3 cache, Intel’s new Turbo Boost 3.0 technology, 40 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes and the same 140W TDP as its Haswell-E predecessors. The Core i7 6950X is offered at a hefty price of $1,723 in quantities of 1,000 for OEMs, taking the crown for Intel’s most expensive consumer processor from the Core i7 5960X, which was $999 at launch.

intel core i7 6950x announcement slide

It appears Intel's marketing team is back in the arena of delivering product announcements with "extreme" presentation slides

Intel claims that its new Broadwell-E family of HEDT chips will offer up to 35 percent faster multi-threaded performance over the previous Haswell-E lineup. For these numbers, they specifically tested the Core i7 6950X against the Core i7 5960X. Earlier this month, some early benchmarks leaked of Intel's Core i7 6950X and Core i7 6850K. The flagship 10-core chip scored 1,904 (multi-core) and 151 (single-core) in Cinebench, while the previous Core i7 5960X scored 1,592 and 160 in the same tests. This is about a 19.5 percent increase in multi-threaded performance for the higher-priced 10-core chip versus the previous 8-core flagship.

In another benchmark between six-core Broadwell-E and Haswell-E chips by Maintenance Bot at, a Core i7 6850K is overclocked to 4.2GHz and scores 1,311 points in the Cinebench R15 multi-core test, while a Core i7 5820K also running at 4.2GHz scores 1,191 points in the same test. This is about a 10 percent increase in multi-threading performance for the lower-priced Broadwell-E chip. A 3DMark FireStrike Extreme benchmark also shows modest improvement, with the Core i7 6850K receiving 9,440 points and the Core i7 5820K receiving 9,353 points.

intel broadwell e i7 69xx 68xx features

With this generation, Intel is adding three new overclocking features for additional voltage adjustments and performance headroom. First on the list is "per-core" overclocking, a nice addition that should provide even more fine-tuned control over larger 8-core and 10-core chips. The next is AVX ratio offset, which is important because Intel's AVX instructions generally consume more power and frequency reductions must be used to keep the chip operating within TDP limits. The third is VccU voltage control, for more fine-tuned control of output voltage within set limits.

intel broadwell e three new overclocking features

Broadwell-E now offers per-core overclocking, AVX ratio offset and VccU voltage control options

All of Intel’s new Broadwell-E chips now offer official memory support for DDR4 2400MHz memory speeds, up from DDR4 2133MHz in the previous Haswell-E lineup. The “official memory support” of a processor, according to Intel, is the guaranteed frequency for the CPU that meets qualified error rates. Of course, some manufacturers have been offering DDR4 3400MHz modules for the past year and a half, but the fact that Intel has increased minimum frequency support within the same LGA 2011-v3 socket is quite rare, at least for now.

intel turbo boost 3.0 slide

Intel Turbo Boost 3.0 provides up to 15 percent higher performance (tested between Core i7 6950X and Core i7 5960X)

As many are familiar, Turbo Boost is a technology Intel originally developed to allow base clock frequencies to be dynamically increased under certain voltage and thermal threshold limits. Turbo Boost 1.0 was originally introduced with Nehalem processors in 2008. Turbo Boost 2.0 then came onto the scene with introduction of Sandy Bridge processors all the way through Haswell and Skylake. Today, Intel is announcing Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 for its new Broadwell-E desktop chips, a technology that provides up to 15 percent higher performance in both single and multi-threaded applications over the previous 22nm Haswell-E generation.

intel hedt cpu comparison 2013 to 2016 750px

Intel high-end desktop (HEDT) processor comparison, 2013 - 2016 (Larger image here)

Pricing adjustments

In order to offer more separation between its high-end and mainstream platforms, Intel has adjusted the prices of its new Broadwell-E desktop lineup from the previous Haswell-E generation. The Core i7 6950X is the new top-tier 10 core, 20-thread model at $1,723 OEM pricing, but we can expect retail pricing to be placed more around $1,749 to 1,799 depending on demand. Previously, Intel’s top-tier Core i7 5960X from 2014 was offered at $999 OEM pricing and $1,049 retail.

Core i7 6900K

Next up is the Core i7 6900K, which replaces the previous Core i7 5960X at a slightly higher price point. The new 8-core, 16-thread chip will be available at a $1,089 OEM price point, while retail will probably be a bit higher between $1,100 and $1,250. This chip is more of a bargain-breaker for some Haswell-E owners as they will now be expected to pay an extra $90 over the previous chip’s $999 price for the same amount of cores. The only difference this time is support for Turbo Boost 3.0 and per-core overclocking, for those who require every ounce of flexibility.

Core i7 6850K and Core i7 6800K

Intel’s new base models in its high-end desktop (HEDT) lineup are now the Core i7 6850K and Core i7 6800K. The company is replacing its unlocked Core i7 5820K part with a model right above it and another right below it, priced at $617 and $434 for OEMs, respectively. Previously, Intel’s base Core i7 5820K was priced at $389 for OEMs, making the investment into an Intel HEDT platform slightly costlier than was previously required. The three core components for a Broadwell-E system – CPU, motherboard, and memory – will likely now amount closer to $750 than the previous $600 average.

Availability is one of the few online outlets that currently lists all four chips on its site. As of May 31st, the Core i7 6800K is available for $453.95 and the Core i7 6850K is available for $650.11, while the Core i7 6900K and Core i7 6950X are on pre-order for $1096.48 and $1718.27, respectively.


Last modified on 31 May 2016
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