The PC upgrade treadmill has slowed down over the years; one is no longer forced to pump new hardware into their aging machine every 18 months just to play the latest games. This doesn't mean the likes of Intel are going to stop making faster chips, especially outrageously expensive ones like its new eight-core, 3GHz i7-5960X.
Announced at this year's PAX Prime in Seattle, the i7-5960X is a formidable piece of silicon. Eight cores capable of handling 16 threads, a turbo speed of 3.5GHz, an utterly massive 20MB cache and the bandwidth for 40 PCI Express lanes is pretty much the cream of the crop when it comes to desktop processors.
But advertising it as a chip for gamers? Please, no.
I did my best to glean something of note from Intel's press release, but after piercing layer upon layer of hyperbole and suspiciously-excited quotes from manufacturers, one is far better off going to the processor's listing on ARK and checking out the specifications directly.
What the release fails to mention is the i7-5960X's Thermal Design Power, or TDP, which weighs in at a toasty 140W. Sure, if you just want the fastest rig and don't care about heat or power consumption, this number means nothing. But for the rest of us, the more affordable and cooler (88W) i5-4690K (with room to overclock) is a much saner choice... among others.
No game developer in their right mind is going to optimise for eight cores. Consumer-level six-core CPUs have been around since 2010 and 2012 saw the first eight-core chips and we're still doing just fine on quad-core parts, which came out in 2006. This may change 5-10 years from now, but shelling out $US999 for this hardware right now is madness. You could build a whole machine for that (and it most certainly wouldn't resemble this monstrosity from Alienware).
On the other hand — and as is usually the case when CPUs sprout extra cores — those pushing workloads involving content creation, be it rendering 3D, frames of video, mixing audio or compiling code, might be interested in dropping the cash on this. Even then, GPUs are sometimes a better choice, depending on how well the work can be executed in parallel (and if an OpenCL / CUDA implementation of the applicable software is available).
I'm not one to usually bang on about expensive processors — people can buy whatever they like — but this is not a CPU for gamers. Well, one that knows the first thing about processors anyway.