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Intel Core i9-7900X Reviewed: Hotter and More Expensive Than AMD Ryzen 1800X for Small Gains

Accepted submission by takyon at 2017-06-20 00:24:49
Hardware

Intel's initial Skylake-X chips, including the 10-core i9-7900X, have been reviewed [tomshardware.com]:

Core i9-7900X performs well in our productivity, workstation, and HPC tests. The mesh-imposed disparities aren't as pronounced in those benchmarks. But we also have re-run Ryzen 7 1800X benchmarks to think about. Pressure to size up has pushed AMD's flagship down to $460, less than half of what a Core i9-7900X would cost. While Intel may capture the top 1% of high-end enthusiasts with Skylake-X, everyone else has to consider whether Ryzen may be the smarter buy.

Moreover, AMD's upcoming Threadripper CPU has to have Intel worried. How do we know? The X299 motherboards we used needed firmware updates to address very serious performance issues right up until launch. Intel didn't seem nearly as ready for Skylake-X's introduction as we'd expect. A number of Core i9s with even more cores won't be ready until later this year. However, it looks like Intel couldn't get the four-, six-, eight-, and 10-core models out fast enough. They'll ship later this month.

Unfortunately, this story won't be ready to wrap up until we have Threadripper to compare against. Given Core i9-7900X's high price and performance caveats, enthusiasts should probably hold off on a purchase until we know more about the competition, even if Skylake-X looks like a bigger step forward than Intel's past HEDT designs.

VERDICT

Intel's Skylake-X-based Core i9-7900X weighs in with 10 Hyper-Threaded cores and architectural enhancements that benefit many workstation-class workloads, such as rendering and content creation. The processor struggles in some games compared to its predecessor, failing to match the [10-core] Core i7-6950X in several titles.

While the i9-7900X is generally an improvement over Intel's previous 10-core high end desktop (HEDT) chip, the i7-6950X, Skylake-X runs hotter and is significantly more expensive than its 8-core AMD Ryzen counterparts. Under full load [anandtech.com], the i9-7900X used about 149 W, while the previous-gen i7-6950X uses Just 111 W and AMD's Ryzen 1800 X is at 92 W. AMD's Threadripper chips will have more PCIe lanes than Intel's Skylake-X line. Ryzen also supports ECC RAM while Intel disables it to differentiate its HEDT chips from workstation/business Xeons. The TDPs of AMD's 10-16 core Threadripper and Intel's 12-18 core Skylake-X CPUs have not been confirmed.

For about a quarter of the price of the i9-7900X, you can get the Ryzen 5 1600X, which often holds its own [anandtech.com] against Intel's monster chip.


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