• Intel introduces the Core i9 Extreme Edition CPU



    Skylake is the codename for Intel's sixth-generation range of Core laptop and desktop PC processors. They've already been superseded by the seventh-gen CPUs and you can find out how Skylake compares with Kaby Lake.

    But Skylake isn't dead yet. No. Intel has launched Skylake X CPUs, which are the high-end enthusiast versions.

    Interestingly, Intel isn't using the Core i7 branding as it has done in previous years but add a new number: 9. The Core i9 range could be in response to AMD's Ryzen processors, which were named to seem similar to Intel's Core i5 and i7 ranges. 

    Last year at Computex, Intel unveiled its first 10-core consumer CPU, the company's move into the world of a "megatasking." It was a pricey chip, launching at around $1,700, but it satisfied the needs for users who needed to juggle several intensive tasks at once. Now, Intel has upped the ante with a whole new family of processors for enthusiasts, the Core X-series, and it's spearheaded by its first 18-core CPU, the i9-7980XE.

    Priced at $1,999, the 7980XE is clearly not a chip you'd see in an average desktop. Instead, it's more of a statement from Intel. It beats out AMD's 16-core Threadripper CPU, which was slated to be that company's most powerful consumer processor for 2017. And it gives Intel yet another way to satisfy the demands of power-hungry users who might want to do things like play games in 4K while broadcasting them in HD over Twitch. And as if its massive core count wasn't enough, the i9-7980XE is also the first Intel consumer chip that packs in over a teraflop worth of computing power.




    If 18 cores is a bit too rich for you, Intel also has other Core i9 Extreme Edition chips in 10, 12, 14 and 16-core variants. Perhaps the best news for hardware geeks: the 10 core i9-7900X will retail for $999, a significant discount from last year's version.

    All of the i9 chips feature base clock speeds of 3.3GHz, reaching up to 4.3GHz dual-core speeds with Turbo Boost 2.0 and 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost 3.0. And speaking of Turbo Boost 3.0, its performance has also been improved in the new Extreme Edition chips to increase both single and dual-core speeds. Rounding out the X-Series family are the quad-core i5-7640X and i7 models in 4, 6 and 8-core models.




    While it might all seem like overkill, Intel says its Core i9 lineup was driven by the surprising demand for last year's 10-core chip. "Broadwell-E was kind of an experiment," an Intel rep said. "It sold... Proving that our enthusiast community will go after the best of the best... Yes we're adding higher core count, but we're also introducing lower core counts. Scalability on both ends are what we went after."

    As you can imagine, stuffing more cores into a processor leads to some significant heat issues. For that reason, Intel developed its own liquid cooling solution, which will work across these new chips, as well as some previous generations. All of the new Core i9 processors, along with the 6 and 8-core i7 chips, feature scorching hot 140W thermal design points (TDPs), the maximum amount of power that they'll draw. That's the same as last year's 10-core CPU, but it's still well above the 91W TDP from Intel's more affordable i7-7700K.

    Over the past few years, Intel's laptop chips have been far more interesting than its desktop CPUs. Partially, that's because the rise of ultraportables and convertible laptops have shifted its focus away from delivering as much computing power as possible, to offering a reasonable amount of processing power efficiently. The new Core i9 X-series processors might not be feasible for most consumers, but for the hardware geeks who treat their rigs like hot rods, they're a dream come true.




    When is the Core i9 release date?

    Release date: June 2017*

    At the chips' launch at Computex 2017, Intel said the new processors would be on sale "in the coming weeks". *That applies to the Core i9-7900X downwards. 

    The i9-7920X will go on sale in August, while the top three chips don't yet have an official release date.

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