Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3 GHz Review 99

Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3 GHz Review

A Closer Look »


Earlier this year, Intel launched its Core X family of high-end desktop processors with its new Core i9 family, starting with the i9-7900X. The high-end desktop (HEDT) platform occupies a gray area between performance desktops and more serious workstations. For over a decade, Intel has addressed this segment of the market with processors that have more features than a standard desktop. These usually included more cores, wider memory interfaces, more PCI-Express lanes on the platform, etc. Consumers knew what to expect when buying an HEDT processor when the segment started out in 2008 with the Core i7 "Nehalem" series alongside the X58 Express chipset.

In a panicked reaction to AMD's Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 series processors, which offer HEDT-like multi-threaded performance in the mainstream-desktop segment 7th generation "Kaby Lake" processors couldn't keep up with, Intel launched the Core X series with quad-core Core i5-7640X, Core i7-7740X, six-core i7-7800X, and eight-core i7-7820X. The i5-7640X and i7-7740X are mainstream-desktop processors in HEDT clothing, and as our review of the former proved, don't deserve to be on this platform. The i7-7800X and i7-7820X, on the other hand, offer more cores and a wider memory interface, but fall short on the PCI-Express lane budget front. With multi-GPU on the decline, this isn't a dealbreaker, but content-creators could find other uses for those spare PCIe lanes, such as 4K multi-stream video-capture adapters, multiple NVMe SSDs, etc.

The newly Christened Core i9 family is where Intel's latest HEDT processor lineup truly begins since these meet all three goals of the platform - more cores, more memory channels, and more PCIe lanes (well, enough for two graphics cards at x16), and as the core-counts approach double-digit figures, Intel is pricing these chips beyond the 1000-dollars mark. The Core i9-7900X is a ten-core chip priced at $999, and Intel's logic behind pricing it such could be that its spiritual predecessor, the Core i7-6900X, is also a ten-core chip that was priced at $1,000.

The Core i9-7900X is built upon a gargantuan new silicon based on the "Skylake" micro-architecture, called "Skylake-X." It implements the biggest change in the way Intel builds processors since "Nehalem" called the Mesh Topology. It overcomes the limitations of the older Ring Bus in binding together a large number of CPU cores without performance penalties arising from latency. It also implements an equally big change in its cache hierarchy in which the faster, dedicated L2 caches are enlarged four-times, while the L3 cache is kept rather small.

In this review, we examine the performance of the Core i9-7900X by comparing it to its main rival, the AMD Ryzen Threadrippper 1950X.

Intel Core i7 Market Segment Analysis
 PriceCores /
Ryzen 7 1700X$3608 / 163.4 GHz3.8 GHz16 MB95 WZen14 nmAM4
Core i7-8700K$3806 / 123.7 GHz4.7 GHz12 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i7-7800X$3806 / 123.5 GHz4.0 GHz8.25 MB140 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
Ryzen 7 1800X$4508 / 163.6 GHz4.0 GHz16 MB95 WZen14 nmAM4
Core i7-7820X$6008 / 163.6 GHz4.5 GHz11 MB140 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
Threadripper 1920X$65012 /243.5 GHz4.0 GHz32 MB180 WZen14 nmTR4
Threadripper 1950X$80016 /323.4 GHz4.0 GHz32 MB180 WZen14 nmTR4
Core i9-7900X$97010 / 203.3 GHz4.4 GHz13.75 MB140 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
Core i9-7920X$120012 / 242.9 GHz4.3 GHz16.5 MB140 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
Core i9-7940X$140014 / 283.1 GHz4.3 GHz18.25 MB165 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
Core i9-7960X$170016 / 322.8 GHz4.2 GHz22 MB165 WSkylake14 nmLGA 2066
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