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Intel Core i9 7900X & Core i7 7740X Review

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Intel Core i9 7900X & Core i7 7740X Conclusion:

So where do we start? As a performance platform, Intel's HEDT platforms have been the go-to systems for those that want the best that money can buy. Currently that dynamic still exists. Much like when AMD's Ryzen processors were released, there were some small issues that popped up. Most of which were resolved with the latest installation of Windows and a combination of BIOS and driver updates.

That being said, I only had a couple other performance problems on the Core i9 7900X. In AIDA64, the FPU Mandel test would not bump up all the cores into action while running at stock speeds. The only way to get a true result in the test was to manually bump the CPU cores up to the Turbo Boost speed in the BIOS. In one of the game tests, the Skylake X i9 7900X delivered a lower level of FPS when compared to the Broadwell-E and Haswell-E processors. Throw in the other few odd results and we can chalk it up to an immature processor. Overall, the Core i9 7900X delivers significant performance margins over just about anything on the market right now.

Now, when I looked at the overall performance of the Kaby Lake X Core i7 7740X, I got just what I expected, with some performance outliers that did not resolve out with even more benchmark cycles. I saw some results that should have seen it outperform the socket 1151 Core i7 7700K during both the stock and overclocked testing, but it still fell a little bit short. Overall, with the larger socket and dual channel DDR4 2666MHz support, it can get the job done.

Overclocking these two processors really cannot be any easier to accomplish. If you have been playing with Intel processors over the past seven to eight years, you get the gist of it. I found that both processors could easily be overclocked until I hit the thermal limits of the CPU's with the Corsair H115i AIO cooler. That being said, just over 4.6GHz on the Core i9 7900X and over 5GHz on the Core i7 7740X are both respectable results that show measurable improvement in the benchmark results. The key was to find the right voltage and clock speed combination that you want to run. Even a well-built and thought out liquid cooling solution is going to struggle with the Core i9 7900X, as I saw with the Core i7 6905X.

More radiators and a good pump will help, but there is a thermal limit you will hit when the silicon cannot shed enough of the thermal load through the IHS. Ten cores and big volts mean you need subzero cooling to get it done. However, I do feel that 4.6GHz with the 1.19v I used on the processor can be accomplished with custom liquid cooling. The same could be said about the Kaby Lake X Core i7 7740K. Instead of a 5GHz processor, I think that 5.2GHz is attainable with the right cooling solution. However, a good solid 4.9GHz should be doable all day long with a dual fan AIO cooler.

Memory support for the processors in this review is spec'ed out at 2666MHz. I found that these processors easily handled the 3600MHz XMP settings on the 32GB of G.Skil Ripjaws V memory modules without so much as flinching. Even when bumping up the ring frequency, the processors did not flinch at running 3600MHz memory in either the dual channel or quad channel configurations.

Do these chips overclock? Why, yes Jimmy, they certainly do. I found gaming performance on the Core i9 7900X to be good, but not fully on par with the other Extreme Edition processors in one game and fully on par with them in the other. The COre i7 7740X, when overclocked, really did step up the gaming performance with its 5.5GHz core clock speeds.

Going forward, Intel should be releasing the next processors in the Skylake X lineup with 12,14,16, and 18 cores, and may not do so until after AMD's Threadripper hits the market. Time will tell what the true release cycle is, but we have a lot to look forward to. As it sits right now, the Skylake X Core i9 7900X is the standard bearer for Intel in this game of core count supremacy. The 10 cores and 20 threads can do a lot of work with clock speeds up over 4GHz, and easily outperforms the Ryzen 7 lineup in most of the tests, as it should. However, the gap is narrowing.

Priced at $999, the Core i9 7900X sits in the traditional $1K price point we see for Intel's Extreme Edition processors. It's $500 less than the street price on the Core i7 6950X when it launched last year in May. So, we get some IPC and architectural improvements with this year's launch. Not a bad piece if you get it.

The Core i7 7740X really only has one reason for existing: a means of getting into the HEDT platform without having to spend big up front on the processor. In my testing, it performed all around the results delivered by the Core i7 7700K depending on the test and workload (as it should have).

Priced at $339, you just will spend a bit more on the X299 board to get started. It's a stepping stone to a better performing system long term. As it seems most of us that run a High End Desktop system do so for the long term anyhow, so this could be that keystone part in the build. I know I just moved from X58 to X79 on my daily driver, so the long term system may be the way to go and beef up the processor and peripherals as your wallet allows. Which one to choose?

 

Pros:

  • High performance
  • Overclocking
  • 7740X entry-level  HEDT
  • Turbo Core Max 3.0

 

Cons:

  • Hot running when overclocked


 

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