This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the Core i7-7820X.
Skylake-X Is Strong: At the launch of Skylake, Intel touted it as their "Best Ever" microarchitecture, and the truth of the matter is, there isn't much out that that can beat it on a core per core basis. Kaby Lake is basically just Skylake with an improved process, and rumors have it that Intel's next generation CPUs won't deviate much from Skylake. However, Skylake-X isn't Skylake, as there have been changes to both cache and CPU interconnects to improve Skylake's ability to handle high core/thread count scenarios. The mesh interconnect and the new cache system greatly improves the multi-core performance of Skylake-X over Skylake, but those advantages don't always seep over to the gaming side of things.
Price: With an MSRP of $600, Intel's 7820X seems like a no brainer for a gamer who wants a lot of cores, especially compared to the 7900X, which costs 40% more and really only offers two more cores. That being said, if you don't want to spend a fortune on a motherboard, and are okay with slightly lower performance, AMD's 8-core offerings are also quite attractive. On Newegg, the 7820X is $200 more expensive than the 1800X, but at launch either CPU would only be $100 less or more than the other. I think that makes the 7820X the sweet spot for hopping on to the X299 platform, as its price blows away Broadwell-E CPUs and makes it extremely attractive if you don't need extra PCI-E lanes when compared to the 7900X.
Well Rounded: Multi-core performance, gaming performance, and even single threaded performance are all top notch on this Skylake-X processor. It's extremely well rounded, and while it might not be the best in every category, it holds steadfast against other CPUs.
Overclocking: If Intel had soldered the integrated heat spreader to the die instead of using thermal paste the CPU would easily overclock higher, but I think 4.6-4.7Ghz is a really decent overclock for a 8-core 16 thread CPU. What is really impressive is the fact that Intel's new Skylake-X and X299 platform handle high-speed memory overclocking in quad channel with ease. Unlike X99 and Broadwell-E, you are no longer limited to 3200Mhz in quad channel stable, but you can easily go higher with most motherboards.
PCI-E Lane Segmentation: I have no idea why Intel would limit the number of PCI-E lanes on the 7820X to 28 while the 7900X gets 44, as it greatly reduces the ability to run two cards and more PCI-E storage. Especially with VROC on the way and Thread Ripper around the corner, it would have made more sense for Intel to give the 7820X more PCI-E lanes.
Power and Thermals: While it seems that Intel is trying to curtail power consumption of these new CPUs, total power numbers are still very high, and that leads to very high thermals, and no need room weak VRMs. You will be thermally limited when overclocking, especially without a delidded CPU, and you will need some active airflow around the VRM if you are overclocking over 4.6GHz.
Part of the purpose of this review was also to gauge how much of a performance impact BIOS updates bring. The thing to realize here is that BIOS changes bring not only microcode updates, but also tweaks from motherboard vendors to either improve performance, reduce power, or change overclocking. They can greatly change how the CPU internally handles power management and overall performance, either by internal power management, offset ratios, or even motherboard vendors implementing different VRM schemes.
The only conclusion we can draw here is that Intel and vendors aren't finished tuning their Skylake-X series, but the performance is obviously there if they unleash power and you can cool it.
If I was to jump onto the X299 train right now, and I wanted a well-rounded CPU with a lot of cores and the ability to handle pretty much everything, I would forgo the 7900X, save $400, and grab a 7820X. You will still be able to run two GPUs, while one will be running at x8, you will still have x4 left over lanes for a storage device routed straight to the CPU.
The amount of money you save would help reduce the burden of motherboard cost, and you could invest in better and faster storage, or perhaps even better cooling.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Overall TweakTown Rating||91%|
The Bottom Line: Compared to Intel's previous offerings and even its current 7900X, the 7820X sits at a sweet spot in regards to price and performance, at least in the high-end desktop market space.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The Intel Core i7-7820X X-Series Skylake-X 8C/16T CPU retails for $XXX at Amazon.
United Kingdom: The Intel Core i7-7820X X-Series Skylake-X 8C/16T CPU retails for £XXX at Amazon UK.
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