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Intel Core I7 6950X Extreme Edition Broadwell-E CPU Review

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Intel Core i7 6950X Extreme Edition Broadwell-E Conclusion:

When Intel stepped up to the plate with an 8-core Extreme Edition processor, the thought of even more cores was far off the radar, as the Core i7 5960X was the highest performing chip on the market bar none. As I saw with the Core i7 5960X, when you can bring the core count to bare on the workload, more cores will always equate to a higher level of performance, whatever the task. That being said, Intel has coined the term "megatasking." This phrase indicates that while the ability to multitask is great, what if you push that to another level? You can, using the 10 cores and 20 threads of the Core i7 6950X to manage a plethora of tasks, including video and/or music editing while playing games. Or watching 4K HD content while manipulating large images and more.

As a gaming system, the X99 socket 2011-v3 platform has been the go-to for multi-GPU setups and fast storage solutions thanks to the availability of 40 PCIe lanes, so there is no shortage of bandwidth across the PCIe bus. In the Broadwell-E product stack, there is only one processor without 40 PCIe lanes, so you get the best chips across the board at the top end of the stack.

Broadwell-E is the high end move to the 14nm manufacturing process. As such, we get not only the 10-core beast called the 6950X, but an 8-core processor in the 6900K, a pair of 6-core processors in the 6850K with 40 PCIe lanes, and the 6800K with 28 PCIe lanes. Pricing is going to scale down from a high of $1723 for the top chip, while we get a drop to $434 for the low man on the totem pole, the 6800K. The pricing on the Core i7 6950X steps up and over the traditional top tier pricing of $999 for Intel's best processor by over 70% or $724 for the added core count. The $999 price point is no more, with the 8-core derivative of the Broadwell-E architecture coming in at $1089. It's a new world on the pricing front for sure.

While you have a bit of financial pain moving to the latest and greatest Extreme Edition processors, you are guaranteed a specific performance window for doing so. In my testing, I found there were very few scenarios where the Core i7 6950X did not exceed the performance of the previous generation Haswell-E Core i7 5960X. In just about every test, the additional core count and Turbo Boost speeds helped out performance. From rendering tasks to gaming, the Core i7 6950X does a great job leveraging the core count of the processor. Where the largest performance gaps were found were in the single threaded applications where the lower base core clock is to blame. That all can be fixed with some overclocking of the core and ring bus. Overclocking does indeed add another layer of performance to the equation with by core overclocking the ability to modulate the amount of core clock speed you can bring to the party for heavy AVX based loads. That's just another layer to peel back and explore in our Core i7 6950X overclocking article coming soon.

Broadwell-E is an exciting addition to the product stack for those who want the best possible performance scenario when megatasking. It's a new term, but the implications are huge for those that want to take advantage of the technology and core count.

 

Pros:

  • Performance
  • Overclocking
  • Megatasking
  • Cool running 
  • 10-core madness

 

Cons:

  • Pricing


 

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