Intel Announces 8-Core 'Enthusiast' CPU

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.

Intel Unleashes its First 8-Core Desktop Processor [Intel, via Ars Technica]


    Typical, i just finish my new PC build and intel announces a new CPU line up.

    Oh well, i hope my i7 4970k does we well for a few years.

    Last edited 31/08/14 2:31 pm

      Never fear. You'll be ok for a while. The only major difference between what you've got, and the 5960 is that they support ddr4, which is gonna be expensive on release.
      I don't think these 5900 series cpu's are really aimed at gamers though. These are really developer boards. Quad channel DDR4 and tons of pci-e laneways. This is like the replacement of the old 1366 socket motherboards, and an upgrade to the socket 2011's.

        Yeah, looking at PC Case Gear for the new intel 2011-3 lineup and are quite expensive and i still would have chosen what i have got now.

        But there will be someone out there who gets it just to wave their cock around thinking that they are superior.

          hahah yeah no doubt! I'm hoping to get one of the new x99 chips in the next few months, but I'll put it to use with rendering and stuff as well as games.

    When did they say it's aimed at gamers? Author doesn't look tech savvy, sorry.

    i5-4690K, except that only has four cores. 6 cores should be a minimum for a powerful gaming rig.

      nope. a quad core is plenty for a high end gaming rig

      6 as a minimum for a good gaming rig? Madness.

      A decent Quad core is still ample for practically every game on the market.

        6 AMD cores? Yeah totally justifiable. 6 Intel cores? Mate ya dreamin.

        4 is a minimum to play any game, true. But do you want to just run one game at a time, or do you want to run something else in the background? If a game is taking up four cores, and say, you're downloading something in the background like streaming audio, or running a VM or two, then those extra cores are going to be helpful in keeping the game from context switching out more frequently. It's a small difference, but we *are* talking high performance here.

        Last edited 31/08/14 5:07 pm

          I have a solid midrange PC. 4 cores. Decent graphics card that didn't cost the earth. SSD, 8gb DDR3 ram.

          I can play Titanfall at ultra settings with X8AA on my main 1920X1080 screen while talking on Skype or playing music on the other 1920X1080 screen, with multiple other windows open doing other stuff.

          The high end market is epeen. There's nothing a solid midrange rig can't do at the moment and for the foreseeable future, that won't be jumping too much. The next thing that's going to actually start pushing graphics is 4k display becoming affordable, but with that you'll be able to tone down or remove AA on a 24 inch 4k display, meaning that there's not going to be a hell of a lot more grunt needed. Unless you get some sort of major rush from FPS competitions, there is absolutely no reason to go above a quad core right now.

          Also, running multiple virtual machines? What the hell for?

          Sure, you might need to have a 10 petabyte hard drive to store the entire recorded history of cinema, but how does that even relate to an industry standard for what makes an acceptable gaming machine?

          I have a quad core, i can run crysis 3 on max settings at 60fps, watch a blu ray and download something all without the performance of the game being impacted at all

          I think someone spent more than they needed to on a PC and are now trying to justify it. There are still plenty of modern games that will run on a 2 core build and 4 is enough to run anything on max settings if your video card is up to it. Developers would have to be crazy to make games that required the specs you're suggesting as minimum.

            No, I'm not. I especially bought a 6-core processor because I explicitly needed those extra cores, thank you very much. Want to respond with some technical basis rather than ad-hominems?

              Ok, I'll bite.
              Seriously, a second computer would be a cheaper option.
              You can build a basic box for a couple hundred bucks with low power components and no graphics card, run it headless somewhere out of the way and remote desktop to it. It can run your vm's, do torrents, handle all those other little jobs easily and can tick away 24x7 drawing very little power.
              That frees up your primary PC to be just for games, you can run cheaper components as it's only got one job, and it's shut down when not in use.
              It is far cheaper to have 2 computers, both capital outlay and ongoing costs, and you can run backups between them.

              TLDR: 6 cores on your gaming box is overkill, it should be just a gaming box.

                No, it won't. Sure, it's a superior option, but it's certainly not a cheaper option.

                Even then, having extra cores will help you multitask. This is indisputable. I still maintain that four cores should be a minimum standard -- most reasonably priced Intel CPU options will give you the four cores anyway last I looked.

                  i5-4690K, except that only has four cores. 6 cores should be a minimum for a powerful gaming rig.

                  I still maintain that four cores should be a minimum standard

                  So which is it?
                  I agree that 4 cores is the minimum standard, but that wasn't your original argument.

                (Because of the stupid threading model, new thread).

                I can see how I might have worded that confusingly. Let me clarify.
                6 cores minimum for a *powerful* gaming rig.
                4 cores minimum for a *non-powerful*, average, run of the mill, regular gaming rig.

    X-Plane will use every one of those cores especially if you run on multiple monitors.

      Multiple monitors would increase GPU workload, not much CPU.

        Except that it is running as a simulation with no physics acceleration, in fact the GPU usage is quite minimal and is mostly just for end-effects and display on the screen and nothing more. I think they could get a lot more out of it using the acceleration of gfx cards a bit more, but it's a pretty major cpu hog.

    Don't most games only use one core anyway?

      Vast majority these days run on 4 cores actually. Dual-core is a bare minimum.

    "But advertising it as a chip for gamers? Please, no."

    Of course, why on earth would you want to advertise en masse to the group of people MOST LIKELY to buy your new kickass cpu?

      Because things advertised to "gamers" are usually spelt with extra Xs and Zs and have naked 3D ladies spread across them with flames and gunfire in the background.

      Oh man, googling shows it was even better than I remembered.

      Last edited 01/09/14 12:01 am

        I have always loved the Palit Cyber Frog.

        I used a few of their cards. They are pretty damn good.

    Honestly, if games from the likes of Ubisoft barely use 3 cores (looking at AC4 and Watch Dogs), you're better off using a quad-core

    I actually downgraded from a 6-core 3930K to a 4770K. On paper, the 6 core is better - 2 extra cores, bigger L2 cache, but for games? Nothing much makes full use of the extra 2 cores anyway. If you're working on video, or doing really CPU heavy crunching stuff, maybe - but for games? Most aren't written to take full advantage of it.

    Save money, and stick with whatever four core i7 'K' series is best at the time.

    I do colour grading, so am excited by these new chips.
    We also run 4K monitors, so every bit helps!

      See, now THAT is the kind of thing these chips are good for.

      Not better rock textures.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now