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Intel "Broadwell-E" Core i7-6950X 10-Core Extreme Edition CPU Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: May 31, 2016 6:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the Intel i7-6950X.


What's Hot


Cores of Course: Ten Cores? Don't mind if I do! There are many usage scenarios where more cores help a lot, and one of them is what Intel called "Mega-Tasking" which basically means Twitch streaming plus 4K gaming + encoding all at the same time. It's basically multitasking on speed, where you need the processor to handle many different taxing programs at the same time without lag. Of course, there are benefits to all content creators since most of the software in use today will take advantage of many cores.



Turbo Boost Max 3.0: While software overclocking and extra applications to control your hardware isn't exact what people want, I have to admit that Turbo Boost Max 3.0 is a viable option for those who want extra performance out of their $1700 CPU, and don't want to risk any type of out-of-specifications overclocking. I did see major improvements in single-threaded applications, enough to justify the programs existence.


Static Core Overclocking: As the core count of CPUs increase, so does the chance that one or more cores won't be able to hit the maximum overclock you are aiming for. To tackle this issue, Intel is allowing users to manage each core in a static nature. Instead of the CPU randomly assigning maximum Turbo bins to different cores, users are now able to see the cores ranked in Windows and then proceed to tune them individually in the BIOS. I believe the next step is to allow per core voltage tuning, but that is for the future I would assume.


3200MHz Memory Support: I had a lot of trouble with overclocking my memory to 3200MHz with the previous generation 5960X, but I have no such issue with the 6950X. Even with the newer motherboards, both 3200MHz kits from both vendors easily hit 3200MHz using the 32x memory multiplier. I can't tell you how happy this makes me.


What's Not


Very Pricey: At just over $1700 MSRP, the 6950X is one of the most expensive consumer CPUs on the market. You could build two fairly decent systems for the price of just the CPU.



Final Thoughts


The 6950X is pretty much what we expected. Broadwell only really launched in the consumer arena as a quad-core CPU loaded with Iris Pro graphics, and cost an arm and a leg. The 6950X is pretty much the 5775C of the X99 platform - its cost is very high, but its performance is also extremely high. It's unique with its ten cores, and the Turbo Boost Max 3.0 is a neat way to overcome its single-threaded shortcomings.




The 6950X is not your typical Extreme Edition CPU. Instead, it is a tool, and you have to invest in the platform to take full advantage of the CPU's capabilities. At just above $1700, I also expect the experience to be hassle free, and for the most part, it is. While the 5960X was a bit buggy in terms of memory support at launch, the 6950X should be compatible with a wide range of high-speed quad-channel kits, and Turbo Boost Max 3 worked like a charm.


Overall I was happy with the product, its performance is above that of the 5960X, and single-threaded performance is just between that of Haswell and Skylake, exactly where Broadwell should be. If you want the most powerful CPU on the market, look no further.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking w/a)99%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging88%
Value for Money85%
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: If you want Intel's most powerful consumer CPU ever, then the Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition processor fits the bill, but it's not cheap.

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