Intel's New Core i9 Is An 18-Core Behemoth With A Price Tag To Match

Image: Intel

When AMD came out guns blazing with its multi-core, heavily multi-threaded Ryzen CPUs, we knew that Intel wouldn't take long to respond. And it has, with a new line-up of Core i5, i7 and a new i9 with as many as 18 cores and 36 hyperthreading threads. They'll be phenomenally fast, of course, but will have a price tag that puts any other PC component you could think of to shame.

Introduced at Computex in Taipei, Intel's latest CPUs use a new X299 chipset and new 2066-pin socket. CPUs with from four to 18 physical cores are on offer, so there's a huge range of options at — a huge range of prices. The cheapest quad-core Core i5-7640X (with no hyperthreading) is a $US242 part, for example, while the top of the line 10-core (and 20 thread) i9-7900X is an eye-bleeding $US999.

Image: Intel

Those 4, 6, 8, and 10-core chips will launch first around the world, and 12, 14, 16, and 18-core CPUs will follow soon enough. All the chips have comparatively very high TDP thermal thresholds, so you'll need to invest in a gutsy water or air cooler to let these Core X processors run free without throttling back under load. Where Intel's mainstream desktop CPUs top out at around 90 Watts, these ones will hit 140 — and Intel's recommending water cooling as standard for the first time.

Intel says it's by far the most extreme desktop processor it's ever produced, and it's taken a page from the book of its server-grade Xeon chips to put the new hardware together. Compared to its previous generation of "most powerful ever" Extreme chips, the company is quoting a 10 and 15 per cent jump in multi- and single-threaded performance respectively.

Ryzen must have Intel spooked, because AMD's massively multi-core chips represented the first time that 8-core CPUs hit the mainstream desktop PC market. AMD's Ryzen is a superlative multi-core performer and brings that "mega-tasking" multi-tasking — gaming, streaming, saving content — to the mainstream in a way that the company hasn't seen success with in years. It has a new server and high-end desktop CPU, too, called Threadripper — up to 16 cores and 32 threads — and likely at a competitive price.

Intel also took the opportunity to hint at its 8th-gen Core processors, still a few weeks away from an official unveiling — expect up to 30 per cent better performance, it says, bringing quad-core and eight-thread performance to its mainstream Core i7-7500U equivalent mobile chips which are currently only dual-core. Laptops could be getting a significant speed boost in the near future.

Gizmodo traveled to Computex as a guest of Dell.


    I mean this in the nicest posible way...
    Fuck you Intel!
    Because you had no competitionfor 10+ years you have been drip feeding consumers with minimal, yet expensive, upgrades each generation.
    Now that AMD are making a comeback you up your game and announce a crap load of new chips.
    Yes, its "business", but it doesnt stop you from being opportunistic, gouging arseholes.

      Yeah there's a reason I'm still running with my 6-year old i5 2500k ... their incremental upgrades have generally been pathetic and I still have no problem running freshly released games at stable frame rates. I keep telling myself "next generation I'll upgrade" and then change my mind when I see I'm still only gaining 10-15% in raw power, unless I want to go to an i7.

      At this rate, I'll be using my current setup until it finally breaks down (and it's somewhat surprising it hasn't done that already).

        +1 to the i5 2500K
        I have the i7 2600K

        the top of the line Kaby Lake has only a 25% increase in power and better power

        25% in 6 years?


          To be fair, we're practically at the speed limit of silicon. There's not a lot of extra speed to be had without overhauling the way we make CPUs in a major way - carbon, etc. That's why they're moving towards more and more cores - 4-5Ghz has been the magic ceiling for standard CPUs for a long time - hell, even late model Pentium 4s were getting close to 4Ghz, and how many years ago was that?

          And extra cores are great, but unless you're utilising software that's written to take full advantage of extra cores, or you're doing something like VMs where you can allocate specific cores, it doesn't benefit the average user. Until more software is made to utilise the extra cores.

          Last edited 31/05/17 2:38 pm

            This. People might remember back to the early-mid 2000s when CPUs basically stagnated until dual core CPUs came out. The limitations aren't just about complacency.

            Also AMD had its own period of complacency where it kept churning out comparatively worse CPUs. They share some of the blame.

      Yes and no. These CPUs aren't intended for gamers or average desktop users. Hell, 99% of the PC users in the world would have zero need for anything above a quad core. These are for high end users - people using virtual machines, doing video encoding, streaming, compiling, etc. Everything Intel is overpriced, but you also have to realise anything above a quad core is going to start costing a lot more.

      I'm still using a six core 3930K I originally bought because I thought it being six core meant it would destroy everything at the time. Then I learnt it was getting beaten in gaming benchmarks by my friend's 4770K quad core with less L3 cache. It all depends on your intended use. If you're just a desktop user/gamer, you'll get absolutely nothing out of anything more than a bog quad core i7.

      I wouldn't get too offended, you're not missing out on much unless you're a super-high end user.

      Last edited 31/05/17 1:39 pm

      Or one could argue (probably not by their own grace but due to some government body) intel have had to do this to allow amd to re-enter the market competitively. Just food for thought. I know the Australian market is heavily regulated by the ACCC to encourage competition between brands.

      To be fair, there's not been much reason to own a hyperthreaded 18-core CPU for gaming until recent years - a lot of games up to 2014-15 were still CPU-capped by their main thread. I remember deliberately skimping a little on my CPU for my current rig (admittedly nearly five years old by now) by going for the 3570k because the only difference between it and the first step into the i7 range was about $200 for hyperthreading, and I've only noticed it being much of an issue in the last 12 months or so.

    I haven't really been paying attention. Do we have confirmation on the socket set? Might be nearly time for an upgrade (my 4771 is getting a little long in the tooth).

      I was looking at upgrading my 4790K when Skylake originally dropped and promptly decided not to. Even moving up to 6th/7th gen Intel and DDR4, there honestly wasn't an earth-shattering performance benefit to be had for dropping almost a grand on a new CPU/mobo/RAM. Depending on what your needs are, you'd be better off saving your money. If you were on a 1st gen i7 or something, that'd be a different story.

        Its more than just the performance though. I live in Alice, which means that heat is a constant issue when it comes to parts wear. Even with a pretty good single bin water cooling unit I still see issues with keeping parts cool and thats before overclock. More powerful parts means running cooler due to lower overall cpu loading.

          Yeah, that makes sense. Just need to be careful you don't catch a tick instead of a tock. 4770Ks were actually fairly warm compared to the 4790K, which was the Haswell refresh. I hear the Kaby Lakes are better on the heat front compared to Skylake too.

          Lucky being in Melbourne, the central heat would probably wreak havoc on my water loop.

            It gets so hot that even with the pump on high I experience throttling (though my 970 isn't helping). Thankfully winter sees a flip, but if I decide that I wanna have a day on the computer it still sees a bit of slowdown after a few hours.

        There really is no need

        unless your constantly hitting 100% and believe that extra 10% boost will be enough?

    Is Intel's top new extreme crazy way-more-than-four core CPU being US$999 especially noteworthy? That's about $1350 in AUDs right now, though of course we'll have to pay GST and Australia Tax...

    But the i7-6950X came out last year and still costs $2400.

    The i7-6900K is $1299.

    The i7-980X from 2010 was US$999.

    They always have a top-dog zany super-CPU and it always costs US$999.

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