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Core i7-6950X CPU Review

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Intro

Intel just launched its new family of X99 high-end CPUs, using LGA2011-v3 socket. Those new processors are codenamed “Broadwell-E”, and the most high-end model on this platform is the Core i7-6950X, which has 10 physical cores (20 threads thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology), 3.0 GHz clock (3.5 maximum clock due to the Turbo Boost 3.0 technology) and supporting four-channel DDR4 memory. Let’s test this monster and check its performance.

Until the launch of “Broadwell-E” processors, the only models available for the X99 platform were the “Haswell-E”, manufactured under 22 nm technology, and the most high-end model was the Core i7-5960X (which we already tested). On the new line, the main differences are the 14 nm manufacturing process, some optimizations on the architecture, and the launch of a ten-core model (which is recognized by the operating system as a 20-core CPU thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology).

Like the “Haswell-E” processors, the “Broadwell-E” models use the X99 platform, which uses the LGA2011-v3 socket. They are compatible with quad-channel DDR4 memory.

The table below presents the new CPUs launched for this platform. All the models have TDP of 140 W and support DDR4-2400 memory and Hyper-Threading technology.

Model Base clock Boost clock Cores L3 Cache
PCI Express lanes
Price*
Core i7-6950X 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 10 25 MiB 40 USD 1,569
Core i7-6900K 3.2 GHz 3.7 GHz 8 20 MiB 40 USD 999
Core i7-6850K 3.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 6 15 MiB 40 USD 587
Core i7-6800K 3.4 GHz 3.6 GHz 6 15 MiB 28 USD 412

* Price suggested by Intel on the launch, for 1000 unit.

The Core i7-6950X is sold without a cooler, so you need to buy a compatible cooler (or liquid cooling system) separately. Figure 1 unveils the Core i7-6950X CPU.

Core i7-6950X benchmarkFigure 1: the Core i7-6950X processor

Figure 2 shows the Core i7-6950X at the side of the Core i7-5960X. Notice that the edges of the heatspreader are different, even using the same socket.

Core i7-6950X benchmarkFigure 2: the Core i7-6950X (left) and the Core i7-5960X (right)

To have an idea of the performance of the Core i7-6950X, we ran some tests comparing it to the Core i7-5960X. Unfortunately, AMD doesn’t offer a CPU that could be considered a competitor to the Core i7-6950X, since their most expensive CPU, the FX-9590, costs eight times less. And even the Core i7-6700K, the most high-end CPU for the LGA1151 platform, costs five times less.

Core i7-6950X benchmarkFigure 3: underside of the Core i7-6950X (left) and of the Core i7-5960X (right)

One detail we can notice is that the substrate (fiberglass base where the CPU die is mounted) of the Core i7-6950X is thinner than the Core i7-5960X’s.

Core i7-6950X benchmarkFigure 4: Core i7-6950X (left) and the Core i7-5960X (right)

Let’s compare the main specs of the reviewed CPUs in the next page.