Intel has made no secret of its desire to be at the forefront of the ever-growing esports market. Hell, the firm even runs the Extreme Masters (IEM) tour – which it has for over a decade now – and sponsors a whole bunch of teams. The company has been equally as hot on the hardware side and has built on that with its just-announced Core X-series.
At last year’s Computex Intel launched its first 10-core consumer CPU, and now (as if that wasn’t already enough) the new top-end i9-7980XE sports 18-cores and is the first Intel consumer chip to pack in over a teraflop of computing power. Priced at $1,999, the new processor is more of a statement piece, surpassing AMD’s 16-core Threadripper CPU. Suffice to say that it will definitely satisfy the demands of power users who want to, as Intel puts it, ‘megatask’; eg. playing games in 4K while also broadcasting in HD over Twitch or Mixer (formerly known as Beam).
Don’t worry if you think that 18-cores and the associated price tag are a bit much though as Intel is also launching several other Core i9 Extreme Edition CPUs with 10, 12, 14 and 16-Core setups. The 10-core i9-7900X (the 2017 equivalent of the afforementioned chip from last year’s Computex) is retailing at $999, a significant price drop from the $1,799 RRP it had previously.
All of the chips feature base clock speeds of 3.3GHz – up to 4.3GHz dual-core speeds with Turbo Boost 2.0, and 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost 3.0. Turbo Boost 3.0 has also been improved to increase both single and dual-core speeds. It’s not all about i9 though. While the 18-core behemoth is sure to grab headlines, the X-series also features the quad-core i5-7640X and i7 chips in 4, 6 and 8-core variants.
Now you might be thinking that all these cores into a processor would lead to heat issues, but Intel is one step ahead of you and has developed its own liquid cooling solution to work across the new chips. And they sure need it. All the new Core i9 processors and the 6 and 8-core i7 chips have 140W thermal design points (TDPs). This is the same as last year’s 10-core processor, but way in excess of the 91W TDP from the i7-7700K.
The announcement of the new processors is timely. Intel has spent the past couple of years focused less on creating CPUs with raw power, instead focusing on chips for ultraportables and convertibles that deliver as much power efficiently. With the company falling somewhat out of the spotlight thanks to AMD’s showstealing and cheaper Ryzen processors, Intel had to do something to recapture the enthusiasts’ discussion and it certainly has done that here. While the new Core i9 X-series may not really be a realistic option for most consumers, it is a statement of intent from Intel that it isn’t ready to give up the stage just yet.