intel Core i9-7900X
intel Core i9-7900X

intel Core i9-7900X 10 cores and 20 threads.

The name of the game this time is 10 cores and 20 threads. Intel’s latest Skylake X parts are some of the gnarliest we’ve seen. With a re imagined smart-cache superstructure and a top-end turbo of 4.3GHz, the Core i9- 7900X is a single-core IPC-demolishing and multi-core rendering powerhouse.

This is also Intel’s first use of its Turbo 3.0 tech. Similar to AMD’s XFR smart overclocking, in applications that aggressively use fewer than four threads, the Core i9-7900X allocates the process to its “best” cores, and boosts their clock speeds up to 4.5GHz. Anything capable of maxing out more than four brings the entire chip back to the 4.3GHz standard Max Turbo.

Compared to last year, we’ve also seen improvements to the number of PCIe lanes (from 40 to 44), an increase in DDR4 memory support, and the DMI (direct media interface between the processor and chipset) improve from 4x PCIe 2.0 lanes to 4x PCIe 3.0, to alleviate any bottlenecks.

The Core i9’s true potential, however, lies in its overclocking capability. It’s an intriguingly mixed bag. And, for once, we’re not limited by silicon instability, but by thermals. There’s no denying the i9-7900X is one hell of a hot chip. Even with a 240mm AIO cooling the 10-cored behemoth, overclocking even to 4.5GHz can lead to thermal throttling hitting that TJMax of 100 C. That said, if you can circumvent the cooling conundrums with a sound liquid-cooled setup, it’s not impossible to see 4.8GHz or 4.9GHz—potentially even 5.0GHz—on this powerhouse of a chip, pushing Cinebench R15 scores all the way up to 2,600-plus, and smashing CPU-heavy rendering times into the dirt.