Intel's Extreme Edition i7 brings 10-core computing to the desktop, but at a price

Intel has just unveiled its latest generation of CPUs. They’re part of the Broadwell-E lineup and are targeted at the high-end desktop and professional market. The most powerful chip on offer is the Intel i7 6950X, which offers 10 cores and 20 threads for processing tasks.


Intel has just unveiled its latest generation of CPUs. They’re part of the Broadwell-E lineup and are targeted at the high-end desktop and professional market. The most powerful chip on offer is the Intel i7 6950X, which offers 10 cores and 20 threads for processing tasks.

The new lineup is based on the LGA 2011-3 socket, which has been reserved for Intel’s highest end desktop chips for years now. The entire lineup consists of the 6800K, 6850K, 6900K and the 6950X. The 6800K and 6850K offer 6 core and 12 threads at prices starting at $434 (around Rs 34,000) and $617 (around Rs 42,000). The 6900K offers 8 cores and 16 threads at $1,089 (around Rs 74,000) and the 6950X offers 10 cores and 20 threads at a staggering, $1,723 (around Rs 1,20,000).

All these processors are rated at 140W and with the exception of the 6800K, offer 40 PCIe lanes. The 6800K offers 28. Official memory support has also been extended to 2400MHz.

CPU Model 6950X 6900K 6850K 6800K 5960X 4960X 3960X
Cores 10 8 6 6 8 6 6
Threads 20 16 12 12 16 12 12
CPU frequency 3.0 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.3 GHz
Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz 3.7 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.9 GHz
TDP 140W 140W 140W 140W 130W 130W 130W
Memory Freq. 2400 2400 2400 2400 2133 1866 1600
PCIe Lanes 40 40 40 28 40 40 40
Price $1,723 $1,089 $617 $434 $999 $990 $990

What does all that jargon mean though? The 140W refers to the thermal power that needs to be dissipated by the CPU. A mobile chipset will be in the sub-1W range, a laptop chipset will usually be in the sub-15W range. High-end laptops might hit 45W and a relatively high-end desktop with a latest generation i7 can hit 91W. Generally, the higher the TDP, the better the performance potential of the CPU.

PCIe lanes are, effectively, high-speed lanes for data transfer. Everything from NVMe SSDs, to GPUs to Thunderbolt rely on PCIe lanes for data transfer, especially as they have to transfer a lot of it. A graphics card would require at least 16 lanes for optimum use of its bandwidth and if you’ve got two of them hooked up to your PC, you better have 32 lanes to spare. While you can run a GPU on a PCIe 1x slot, you’ll only be using 1/16 of the available bandwidth. When it comes to PCIe lanes, the more the merrier.

All of this is interesting, but pales in comparison to the price that Intel is expecting for their Extreme Edition 6950X, a whopping $1,723. Granted, it comes in a custom, black and gold box and offers 10 cores. The same price would, however, land you a 14 core, 28 threaded Xeon or, if you’re up for it, two 10 core, 20 threaded Xeons totaling 20 cores and 40 threads for the same price as a 6950X.

If you’re a gamer, you only need 4 cores and a consumer-grade i5 or i7 is more than enough. If you’re into rendering, the more cores the merrier of course, but at what price?

A regular desktop user should also be more than satisfied with 4 cores.

If you already have a Haswell-E series chip, the performance improvement is marginal at best, and that too in select situations. If you’re on an earlier 6 core chip like the 3960X, the performance upgrade, if only for the faster RAM support, should be significant. However, the price is sure to give pause.


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