If you're looking to buy or build the most powerful home system possible, whether for gaming or high-end design and editing work, Intel this week formally unveiled the family of processors likely to power it: the new "Broadwell-E" line.
Each of the four Broadwell-E chips revealed at this week's Computex in Taipei utilizes Intel's fifth-generation Core design (introduced at CES 2015), rather than the newer sixth-generation Core microarchitecture seen in its "Skylake" lineup.
They are based on a 14nm production process using Intel's Tri-Gate 3D transistors, use the LGA 2011-v3 socket, and have a stated Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 140 watts.
The chips are also fully unlocked to give the user maximum control when overclocking. And one of the new Broadwell-E features touted by Intel, "Turbo Boost Max 3.0," lets the CPU assign single-threaded tasks to the cores capable of running at the highest frequencies, thus boosting processing speed in single- and multithreaded applications.
The flagship processor of the Broadwell-E line is the Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition, which replaces the (Haswell-E–based) Core i7-5960X at the top of Intel's catalog. This chip is the most powerful consumer-oriented CPU Intel has produced.
It includes a full 10 processing cores, which, combined with Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, means the chip can marshal up to 20 processing threads. Clocked at 3GHz with 25MB of cache, the 6950X also supports up to 40 PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0 lanes (to allow for, say, multiple video cards and PCIe-based solid-state drives) and four-channel DDR4-2400 RAM.
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What can you expect to pay for all the power the 6950X packs? Unsurprisingly, quite a bit: Intel estimates the price—per 1,000 units—at $1,723, though that could settle slightly lower with time.
If you're interested in the same basic capabilities of the 6950X, but don't want to spend quite as much money, there are other options using the Broadwell-E design.
The Core i7-6900K—clocked at 3.2GHz with eight threads and 16 cores, 20MB of cache, and also supporting 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes—will retail around $1,089. Clocked at 3.6GHz and featuring six cores and 12 threads, 15MB of cache, and 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes, the Core i7-6850K is expected to retail for about $617. And the 3.4GHz Core i7-6800K, which also has six cores and 12 threads and 15MB of cache, but only offers 28 PCIe 3.0 lanes, will be priced at about $434.