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An abundance of new processors
During its press conference at Computex 2017, Intel has officially announced the upcoming release of an entire new family of HEDT (high-end desktop) processors along with a new chipset and platform to power it. Though it has only been a year since Intel launched the Core i7-6950X, a Broadwell-E processor with 10-cores and 20-threads, it feels like it has been much longer than that. At the time Intel was accused of “sitting” on the market – offering only slight performance upgrades and raising prices on the segment with a flagship CPU cost of $1700. With can only be described as scathing press circuit, coupled with a revived and aggressive competitor in AMD and its Ryzen product line, Intel and its executive teams have decided it’s time to take enthusiasts and high end prosumer markets serious, once again.
Though the company doesn’t want to admit to anything publicly, it seems obvious that Intel feels threatened by the release of the Ryzen 7 product line. The Ryzen 7 1800X was launched at $499 and offered 8 cores and 16 threads of processing, competing well in most tests against the likes of the Intel Core i7-6900X that sold for over $1000. Adding to the pressure was the announcement at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day that a new brand of processors called Threadripper would be coming this summer, offering up to 16 cores and 32 threads of processing for that same high-end consumer market. Even without pricing, clocks or availability timeframes, it was clear that AMD was going to come after this HEDT market with a brand shift of its EPYC server processors, just like Intel does with Xeon.
The New Processors
Normally I would jump into the new platform, technologies and features added to the processors, or something like that before giving you the goods on the CPU specifications, but that’s not the mood we are in. Instead, let’s start with the table of nine (9!!) new products and work backwards.
|Core i9-7980XE||Core i9-7960X||Core i9-7940X||Core i9-7920X||Core i9-7900X||Core i7-7820X||Core i7-7800X||Core i7-7740X||Core i5-7640X|
|Architecture||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Kaby Lake-X||Kaby Lake-X|
|Base Clock||?||?||?||?||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.5 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost 2.0||?||?||?||?||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.2 GHz|
|Turbo Boost Max 3.0||?||?||?||?||4.5 GHz||4.5 GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Cache||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||13.75MB||11MB||8.25MB||8MB||6MB|
|DDR4-2666 Dual Channel|
|TDP||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||112 watts||112 watts|
There is a lot to take in here. The most interesting points are that Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor but it also wants to change the perception of the X299-class platform by offering lower price, lower core count CPUs like the quad-core, non-HyperThreaded Core i5-7640X. We also see the first ever branding of Core i9.
Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, a 10-core / 20-thread processor with a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo peak of 4.5 GHz using the new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. It sports 13.75MB of cache thanks to an updated cache configuration, includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and a 140 watt TDP. The new LGA2066 socket will be utilized. Pricing for this CPU is set at $999, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is $700 less than the starting MSRP of the 10c/20t Core i7-6950X from one year ago; obviously a big plus. However, there is quite a ways UP the stack, with the 18c/36t Core i9-7980XE coming in at a cool $1999.
The next CPU down the stack is compelling as well. The Core i7-7820X is the new 8-core / 16-thread HEDT option from Intel, with similar clock speeds to the 10-core above it, save the higher base clock. It has 11MB of L3 cache, 28-lanes of PCI Express (4 higher than Broadwell-E) but has a $599 price tag. Compared to the 8-core 6900K, that is ~$400 lower, while the new Skylake-X part iteration includes a 700 MHz clock speed advantage. That’s huge, and is a direct attack on the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X that sells for $499 today and cut Intel off at the knees this March. In fact, the base clock of the Core i7-7820X is only 100 MHz lower than the maximum Turbo Boost clock of the Core i7-6900K!
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of ASUS
ASUS continues to optimize their hardware for the overclocking and PC gaming crowds, but they are also catering to a niche audience looking for ultra stable and durable PC components. ASUS's Sabertooth X79 motherboard is their one of their latest products to bear the TUF series label and sport customized hardware and thermal components as well as a desert camo color scheme to complete the military look. This $329 motherboard comes with a five-year warranty, digital power management system, rugged chokes, solid capacitors, and MOSFETs that have been certified through third party, military-grade testing.
Courtesy of ASUS
The Sabertooth X79 also comes with a host of other features to improve SSD caching and give users quad GPU support for CrossfireX and SLI graphics card configurations. This board also includes a unique UEFI BIOS and natively supports 2TB hard drives with 64-bit operating systems. The USB BIOS "Flashback" feature also helps new users update their motherboard BIOS without entering the BIOS. ASUS states that users can use any USB storage device with the latest BIOS, push the BIOS button located on the back I/O panel for three seconds, and the board will automatically update the BIOS using standby power. Very cool!
Courtesy of ASUS
The back I/O panel on the Sabertooth X79 is no slouch either as it gives users a healthy amount of USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA 6GB/s ports for greater performance and expandability options. They also added a small fan over the back I/O panel as part of their "TUF Thermal Armor" feature that will help cool and exhaust heat from ther motherboard out the back of the chassis. Let's move on to the rest of the Saberbooth X79's features where we will get our first out-of-the-box look at this motherboard.
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of Gigabyte
We are still making our way through an avalanche of X79 motherboards on our test bench that leverages the power of Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, but we didn't want to wait any longer on powering up Gigabyte's GA-X79-UD5 extended ATX motherboard. Gigabyte has really stepped up their game by offering optimized LGA 2011 for no-nonsense PC builders, hardware enthusiasts, serious overclockers, and even FPS/RPG PC gamers. Our review of the X79-UD5 is going to evaluate every aspect of the board's ability to handle automatic and manual overclocking, DX10/DX11 gaming, and other synthetic and real-world benchmarks.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The Gigabyte X79-UD5 motherboard takes full advantage of the new features available with the LGA 2011 platform and X79 Express chipset like the abiliy to use up to 64GBs of quad-channel memory via eight DIMMs and support for dual and triple AMD CrossfireX or NVIDIA SLI graphics card configurations for multi-monitor, high-definition gaming. These features should make ultra enthusiasts grin from ear to ear because they will probably be the ones who tandem this board with an Intel Core i7-3960X processor and dual NVIDIA GTX 680s graphics cards that were just released earlier this week. The $299 price tag on this board also places it right in the middle of the pack of LGA 2011 motherboards available on Newegg and other vendors.
7-series based motherboards from ASUS
This is going to be an interesting couple of months as the industry balances the move from Sandy Bridge to the 3rd Generation of Intel Core processor and the 7-series chipsets. We have documented the rumored delays of the Ivy Bridge CPUs but it looks like Intel is moving ahead with the Z77/H77 chipset launch as planned. This means that from now until whenever those new CPUs actually launch we will see quite a few new motherboards announced from the typical vendors claiming "future platform compatibility."
Recently we spent some time with our friends at ASUS to learn about its plans for the Z77 launch and I must say I came away quite impressed with the technology and features being integrated. Today I am allowed to share with you some photos and basic information about the features being offered on the ASUS Z77 lineup, though without much hands-on time we are limited in what we can say.
There are going to be options ranging from the high-end Maximus V Formula to the budget priced P8Z77-V to the ultra-niche with the mini-ITX P8Z77-I Deluxe. Enjoy!
Z68 is what we wanted all along
In reality, this is what we wanted all along. When the Intel P67 chipset launched in conjunction with the Intel Sandy Bridge desktop processors, the combination of the new architecture of the x86 processing cores and the newly revamped overclocking capability (courtesy of the enhanced Intel Turbo Boost technology) made for a lethal configuration. Without a doubt it was the highest performing platform for enthusiasts and gamers and put even more pressure on the AMD CPU division to step up its game. Intel asserted itself again as the dominant CPU vendor.
The other key feature addition to Sandy Bridge was the inclusion of some fairly high performing integrated processor graphics on the CPU die itself, NOT on the chipset. The Intel HD Graphics 3000 / 2000 far exceeds the horsepower of the integrated graphics on the Clarkdale processors but that really wasn't hard to achieve. Along with that added graphical performance was the inclusion of a very interesting feature called Intel Quick Sync that allowed specific applications to take advantage of fixed function hardware on the CPU for incredibly fast video transcoding times.
The problem was that even mainstream users that decided to use a discrete graphics card in their computer rather than depend SOLELY on the integrated graphics of the Sandy Bridge architecture, lost out on the Quick Sync feature all together. Why? The P67 chipset that supported overclocking and other "high-end" features didn't include video output support. The H67 chipset that DOES support video output does not offer overclocking functionality. And since the Quick Sync technology was only available when the integrated graphics were initialized, most of our readers that really wanted to game and use a discrete GPU from NVIDIA or AMD were out of luck.
Today's reveal of the Intel Z68 chipset finally presents a solution that combines the features of the H67 chipset with those of the P67 chipset to create the best option for Sandy Bridge system builders.
Introducing the GeForce 9400/9300 Chipset
NVIDIA's MCP7A chipset has been in development for quite a long time and was in fact implemented in the MacBooks just yesterday. Now we can finally tell you all about the desktop variant of this chipset and how it beats out Intel's G45 solution quite handily.
As NVIDIA's World Turns...
It's been a whirl-wind past few weeks for NVIDIA - bad mobility GPUs, the possibility of seeing NVIDIA inside Apple machines and now the death of the NVIDIA chipset products. Quite a bit for a single company to take all at once, but how much truth is there to the idea of the end of the nForce? We take yet ANOTHER look at NVIDIA...
A whole new AMD chipset
The AMD 780G chipset combines powerful integrated graphics, an improved SB700 south bridge and support for Athlon X2 and Phenom processors to offer by far the best IGP solution we have seen yet. And Hybrid CrossFire might just make 780G worth while for more than you might think.
Lots of new Chipsets
Come take a look at what Intel's latest chipset offerings bring to the table, what technology moves they make and what is coming down the road this summer.
The New nForce 650i Ultra
NVIDIA released a new chipset based on their 600-series for the Intel platform. The new 650i Ultra chipset does not support SLI but has a lot of other interesting features for a ~$120 motherboard.
A Cheaper 680i Solution
NVIDIA has released a new chipset based in the 600 series for the Intel platform that has a lower price but a fewer features as well. Can EVGA and NVIDIA work their magic once again on the new 680i LT SLI chipset motherboard?
AMD Gets a New Chipset
AMD is releasing their first new chipset in almost 4 years courtesy of their new friends from ATI. Come see what the AMD 690 chipset with integrated GPU might do for you.
Another new Intel Chipset
EVGA is the first partner to get us a motherboard based on NVIDIA's new nForce 680i chipset for the Intel platform. If you are interested in SLI and maybe even some overclocking, this board definitely needs to be on your list!
NVIDIA's 500 Series Chipsets
Both NVIDIA and ATI have AM2 ready chipsets for us today, but the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset is brand-spanking new. What kind of performance and features can you expect on these new DDR2-based platforms?
Why PCI Express Bandwidth Matters
With the launch of the XPress 3200, ATI raised questions about the efficiency of NVIDIA's dual chip SLI X16 soluiton and we set to out answer them as best we could.
Introduction to the Radeon XPress 3200
ATI is announcing the new Radeon XPress 3200 chipset today and we have all the details including 40 lanes of PCI Express on the north bridge and extreme overclocking potentional.
nForce for the Whole Family
NVIDIA is announcing two new chipsets for the Intel platform, aimed mainly at the mainstream and budget markets. You won't find quad SLI systems in here, though maybe you'll find a new system for mom?
Introduction to the K8T900
VIA readies another chipset that is both ready for the M2 socket as well as competing in the currently NVIDIA-dominated AMD-platform chipset market.
NVIDIA's Return to Integrated GPUs
NVIDIA has readied its first integrated chipset since the nForce2 and is going to try and take the AMD market by storm by offering HD output for the first time on a motherboard.
Introduction and Specification Overview
NVIDIA is finally ready with their first offering for the Intel platform. They have been at work on this longer than you might think, and they are promising to be the fastest option on the Intel front. Did they do it on their first try?