Introduction, Features Chipset
Most of a time, member makers such as Intel, Nvidia, Samsung, and AMD make predicted moves when it comes to product launches: a new product era a year or so on from a final one, with a modest-to-moderate uptick in performance, and an upticked integer shoved somewhere in a product name.
Sometimes, a product comes along that’s a considerable adequate to shake adult a business, like AMD’s new Ryzen CPU lineup. (We utterly like a six-core Ryzen 5 1600X.) Ryzen is giving Intel some long-absent critical competition. A identical materialisation happened in 2016 with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-series (“Pascal”) graphics cards, which, on a high end, still haven’t seen any genuine foe from AMD, some-more than a year on from their launch.
But infrequently a large association creates a pierce that customarily leaves us reviewers and editors scratching a heads. A primary instance of a latter for 2017 customarily might be Intel’s preference to effectively launch dual generations of silicon on a new Core X-Series fan height during a same time.
On a one hand, it’s not that surprising, given that both a 6th Generation (“Skylake”) and 7th Generation (“Kaby Lake”) architectures are many a same in terms of pattern and features. The after chips mostly customarily get rather aloft clocks, and some hardware to concede playback of stable 4K calm from a likes of Netflix and Amazon (more on that later).
The higher-end chips in a Core X-Series, unintuitively, use a comparison Skylake architecture; a lower-end ones, Kaby Lake. And a Skylake Core i9 chips positively have intensity to impress. The $1,000 Intel Core i9-7900X we tested, for example, sports 10 cores and 20 accessible estimate threads, and thumps a company’s 2016-era 10-core chip, the Core i7-6950X Extreme EditionRyzen Threadripper fan processors some critical foe adult in serious-money-CPU Land. We adore to revisit that place, nonetheless we can’t means to live there. (Ryzen Threadripper chips will tip out, during slightest initially, during 16 cores and come in during $799 and $999 for a initial dual chips.)
But then…there are a Kaby Lake Core X-Series chips.
We’ve already taken a low demeanour during a four-core, eight-thread Core i7-7740X. And while it’s a excellent performer, as distant as fast-clocked four-core tools go, it doesn’t unequivocally mangle any new opening belligerent contra a Intel Core i7-7700KMSI X299 SLI Plus, rides right on that $250 line.) The thing is, also, a Core i7-7740X doesn’t container a additional PCI Express (PCIe) lanes on a chip that a higher-end Core X-Series processors do. You’re stranded during 16 lanes with a Kaby Lake Core X chips, that is a same as you’ll find on “regular” Kaby Lake chips on Intel’s mainstream platform, like a Core i7-7700K, using hollow LGA 1151.
Also, since Kaby Lake X CPUs have distant fewer lanes than a higher-end, Skylake-based Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs (which have possibly 28 or 44 lanes, depending on a Skylake X chip in question), some motherboard facilities (such as additional M.2 slots, SATA ports, and graphics-card slots) can get switched off or run with reduced bandwidth if we dump in a Core i-7740X as against to, say, a Core i9-7900X. In other words, if we opt for a Kaby Lake X Core i7, we get a additional responsibility that comes with a X299 platform, nonetheless mainstream opening and a motherboard with hobbled features.
That brings us to a Core i5-7640X. This four-core Kaby Lake chip has one thing going for it compared to all a other chips on a Core X platform: a $249 price. That’s a entertain a cost of a Core i9 we mentioned above, and about $100 reduction than a stream going rate for a Kaby Lake Core X counterpart, a Core i7-7740X. This Core i5 is by distant a least-expensive chip charity adult for Intel’s enthusiast-grade “Extreme Edition” CPU platforms, going behind during slightest several years.
But all a issues we already mentioned about a Core i7-7740X also request to a Core i5-7640X. You get 16 lanes of PCIe and opening that’s pretty softened compared to chips like a previous-generation Skylake Core i5-6600K. But opening should be about on standard with current-generation Kaby Lake offerings in a same vein, such as a Core i5-7600K. Performance is identical to these existent Core i5 chips since a Core i5-7640X lacks a thread-doubling Hyper-Threading tech that’s partial of all desktop Core i7 chips, like a formerly mentioned Core i7-7740X.
Is there a box to be finished for a mainstream Core i5-level CPU that works on a high-end height like Intel’s Core X-Series? Perhaps…if you’re rather cash-strapped currently nonetheless wish to build a performance-hound PC that’s rarely upgradable for when your component-budget dreams come loyal down a road. To answer a doubt in full, though, we need to examine a Core X-Series height in some-more detail, and take a demeanour during what else is accessible these days when it comes to budget-friendly (though powerful) computing platforms.
But one thing is transparent right away: The Core i5-7640X is a bit like a Honda Civic engine that we can dump into a supercar frame. To be sure, people have finished foreigner things, in both a computing and automotive worlds. But during best, this chip is going to interest to a tiny subset of shoppers with unequivocally specific needs and desires. Then again, we’ve been observant a same thing about a company’s $1,000-plus Extreme Edition fan chips for years. At slightest this chip is some-more affordable.
Meet a New Core X-Series
Topping out with a Core i9-7980XE—which, when it debuts, will be means to tackle adult to 36 discriminate threads during once—the new Core X-Series of chips goes above and over what we’ve seen from any Extreme Edition processors to land in a exam beds in a past decade.
The Core i9-7980XE, in fact, is a initial CPU to move some-more than a teraflop of discriminate opening to a consumer-computing table. That’s a kind of opening metric we’re used to saying on graphics cards, not CPUs.
As we remarkable above, along with a highest-end chips, Intel will also move a span of “lesser” Core i7 and Core i5 processors—using a Kaby Lake architecture—to a new platform, using the same new LGA 2066 socket. Here’s a list of a company’s new chips, approach from Intel, that includes a 5 CPUs that have been expelled as of this Jul 2017 writing, and a 4 Core i9 CPUs to come. Note that Intel is gripping many of a sum of those tip 4 Core i9 chips underneath wraps for now, so all of a dashes below. The association says these top-end Core i9 CPUs will arrive between Aug and October. Among a i9 chips, customarily a Core i9-7900X rolled out with a initial Core X-Series launch.
Now, if you’re looking during pricing, you’ll notice that a tip finish 18-core Core i9-7980XE commands a whopping $1,999. (At least, that is per 1,000 units, that is how Intel has prolonged listed pricing for a highest-end CPUs, nonetheless sell pricing is customarily about a same). Clearly, Intel isn’t worried that much about AMD during a tip finish of a stack. But maybe Team Blue should be a bit some-more endangered about Team Red, since AMD recently announced that a top-end 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will sell for $999, and have a ability to boost as high as 4GHz, while a 12-core, 24-thread Threadripper 1920X (with a same tip time speed of 4GHz) will sell for $799. At slightest on paper, that creates a highest-end of Intel’s new chips seem rather pricey before they have even been entirely announced and put on sale.
But if we take a demeanour during a 10-core Core i9-7900X, you’ll notice that during $999, it’s labelled about $700 reduction than a previous-generation Core i7-6950X. So while prices are still sincerely high, swell is clearly being finished on a threads-per-dollar front. And Intel is charity many some-more options during a very high finish than ever. So there’s no need to step adult to (or even close to) a $2,000 operation unless we absolutely need all a threads we can get. More choices are a good thing, and it’s expected we have them on a Intel side, during slightest in part, since of a vigour that AMD has practical so distant this year.
On a associated note, a eight-core, 12-thread Core i7-7820X, that will expected be a many approach foe to AMD’s top-end Ryzen 7 chip, is labelled during $599. That’s $180 or so some-more than a stream going rate for a Ryzen 7 1800X, nonetheless a whole lot some-more affordable than a $1,000 cost of a previous-generation eight-core Core i7-6900K. Clearly, Intel is creation an try to retrieve some of a core-per-dollar value over AMD, while progressing some cost reward over a desktop-chip competitor. It’s not waging all-out cost war.
The other engaging disproportion with a Core X-Series launch is that, as we mentioned earlier, for a initial time Intel brought dual chip architectures (or during slightest dual generations of silicon) to a fan height during a same time. The highest-end chips here are formed on 6th Generation Skylake silicon, while those during a bottom of a above chart, a Core i7-7740X and a Core i5-7640X we’re looking during here, use 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” architecture, a same as you’ll find in Intel’s stream top-end mainstream LGA 1151 CPU, the Core i7-7700K.
That’s critical for a integrate of reasons, nonetheless on a underline front, it means a Kaby Lake X chips (like a Core i5 we’re looking during here) will support 10-bit 4K HEVC encoding and decoding, as good as VP9 decoding. What does this mean, in non-geek-speak? You’ll need a chip from a Kaby Lake line (or later) if we wish your complement to support 4K streaming calm from many vital video outlets, or if we devise to, during some point, bond a 4K Blu-ray drive. A Skylake chip (even a 18-core beast) can’t hoop that kind of content.
CPU PCI Express Lanes Chipset
As we alluded to earlier, a other vital new fold that arrives with a Core X-Series has to do with PCI Express lanes, that we can cruise of as a highway that moves a bandwidth-hungry information between a processor and things like graphics cards and quick NVMe solid-state drives. Intel’s fan height has prolonged charity some-more lanes directly to a CPU than “lesser” chips such as a Core i7-7700K. For instance, a last-generation Core i7-6950X had 40 PCIe lanes built into a silicon, while a some-more mainstream-minded Core i7-7700K and a ilk have customarily 16.
But while a higher-end Skylake X chips, like a Core i9-7900X, get oodles of additional lanes, a Core i7-7740X and Core i5-7640X (the dual stream Kaby Lake processors in a Core X-Series) make we settle for a same 16 lanes as a likewise labelled chips on Intel’s mainstream LGA 1151 platform.
Here’s a demeanour during how some of a facilities mangle out between Skylake X and Kaby Lake X processors, compared to a facilities of Intel’s previous-generation high-end desktop platforms, on a X99 chipset…
Now that a Core X-Series height spans dual generations of silicon and ranges from a rather medium four-core/four-thread Core i5 chip to (eventually) a $2,000, 36-thread monster, a volume of PCIe lanes on a height is a lot more complicated. For now, during least, as we remarkable adult top, a dual “entry level” Core i5 and i7 chips will offer 16 lanes, like their counterparts on a some-more mainstream platforms (like a Core i7-7700K). Stepping adult a smoke-stack to a some-more midrange chips in this high-end platform, a Skylake-based Core i7-7800X and Core i7-7820X both offer 28 lanes of PCI Express bandwidth, and a Core i9-7900X offers 44 lanes. The additional 4 lanes contra a prior era is there on a high-end chips, ostensibly, to make certain builders have a bandwidth to cruise Intel’s new Optane Memory caching drives and eventually full-size Optane-based SSDs. Interestingly, Intel is still gripping a series of lanes accessible on a arriving highest-end chips underneath wraps for now. But it’s a protected gamble that they’ll have 44 or more.
If you’re wondering what we (or, say, someone who wins a PC-hardware lottery) competence actually do with all those PCI Express lanes on a CPU, Core X introduces another underline that could be utterly bandwidth-hungry: VROC, or Virtual RAID on CPU. The VROC record lets we run mixed PCI Express/NVMe storage drives together in your choice of RAID flavor, directly by a CPU. Technically, a underline supports pairing adult to 20 drives together in this conform for a fanciful throughput of adult to 128GB per second (and yes, that’s big-“B” gigabytes).
Before we dive into offer sum of VROC, note that Intel has nonetheless to announce VROC sum strictly when we wrote this in late Jul 2017. Everything we schooled about this underline came secondhand from motherboard makers at Computex 2017. So take this with a pellet of doubtful silicon, and know that things might change when Intel reveals final, central specs and sum about this feature.
Previously, on a consumer side of a CPU fence, you’d need a hardware RAID label to do something like a VROC setup. But as we’ll see, there are utterly a few caveats here.
First off, you’ll need one of dual Intel-provided hardware dongles plugged in to your X299-based mainboard to run drives in any VROC pattern other than RAID 0 (striped). And we were told those dongles would cost $100 or $200 respectively, depending on what form of RAID we designed on running. This is substantially an try by Intel to keep craving business from saving some income by regulating consumer play and processors to run tasks that are designed for server-class play and Xeon processors.
Second, you’ll need one of a Skylake X chips (like a Core i9-7900X) to use VROC. The Kaby Lake X chips (like a Core i5-7640X we’re looking during here) miss a PCI Express bandwidth to make such a setup possible.
The final VROC premonition is a large one. At slightest for now, for your VROC RAID expostulate to be bootable, you’ll need to run a array on Intel SSDs. Considering that it’s Samsung’s consumer drives (such as the Samsung SSD 960 Pro) that are generally a speediest, being forced to opt for Intel drives seems counter-intuitive if you’re going all this approach (and spending so many money) to get a fastest probable storage speed. Hopefully, a destiny underline refurbish will concede non-Intel drives to be bootable in a VROC setup. Within a context of this sold review, though, a extravagantly high-end VROC setup isn’t in a cards. Once we start plugging in some-more than a integrate of PCI Express-bus x4 solid-state drives and a graphics label (or two), you’re going to start regulating out of lanes, and things will start disabling themselves on your motherboard. More on this emanate soon.
Last on a underline front for Core X-Series chips is an refurbish to a company’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology. This record debuted in a company’s previous-generation “Broadwell-E” chips, among them a top-end Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition. Now, instead of a chip being means to discern which one of a several cores is means to time a tip and bearing it for certain tasks, Core X-Series chips can choose two cores that get a Turbo Boost Max treatment.
Like the Extended Frequency Range (XFR) underline found on AMD’s Ryzen chips (at slightest a models that finish in an “X”), this is a good thought in theory. But it substantially translates to a minimal discernible advantage in altogether performance, during best. Getting a integrate of hundred additional megahertz in short-term bursts from one or dual cores on a chip that has eight or 10 isn’t going to change how quick your complement feels—unless maybe a “feeling” you’re articulate about comes from saying sky-high benchmark results. Regardless, it’s indecisive here; Turbo Boost Max 3.0 is enabled customarily on a higher-end Core X processors. You won’t find it on a Core i5-7640X that we’re looking during here, or on a Core i7-7740X. It’s another thing that Kaby Lake X creates we scapegoat contra Skylake X in this chip line.
Along with a new chips and a new LGA 2066 socket, Intel also will be charity adult a new X299 chipset to support it all.
The chipset has adult to 24 lanes of PCI Express built into a board. (Remember, this is in further to a 16 lanes on a Core i7-7740X itself.) That’s a large burst from a 8 lanes accessible on a previous-generation X99 chipset, and it means X299 play will technically support some-more SATA ports, USB 3 ports, and quick M.2 storage natively. If you’re looking to bond all a things to your absolute PC, X299 should offer we well, supposing we put one of a Skylake X chips in a board, that move adult to 44 additional lanes of bandwidth. But if you’re company-agnostic, keep in mind that that AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper chips will reportedly have an even loftier 64 lanes of PCI Express on a chips themselves. (And it won’t customarily be a highest-end Threadripper chips, nonetheless all of them.) So prolonged as Threadripper’s opening can during slightest keep up, it looks like Intel will have clever foe in this high-end fan space, as well.
The other fold with X299 and Core X relates to memory. While a Skylake X chips support DDR4 memory regulating in quad-channel mode during speeds adult to 2,666MHz (and aloft when overclocked), a lower-end Kaby Lake X processors run in dual-channel mode (just like Kaby Lake chips do on Intel’s mainstream computing platform). That means X299 motherboards need to support both setups, and that you’ll have to configure your RAM differently depending on that subtype of chip (Kaby Lake X or Skylake X) we have installed.
It also means the amount of RAM a house will support will expected change depending on that chip we have installed. For example, here are a RAM specifications for the Asus Prime X299-Deluxe motherboard we’re regulating as a testbed for Core X reviews…
As we can see, a DIMM support varies according to a Core X CPU core count. This setup also means, on a quite cultured basis, that we could finish adult with some bizarre RAM orientations, that could worry some builders with windowed cases and lighting. For example, on a above Asus board, when installing 4 DIMMs and a Kaby Lake X processor, all your RAM needs to be commissioned in a slots to a right of a CPU socket. That won’t be a outrageous problem for many people. But for maestro builders and aesthetes, it looks and feels bizarre to have all your memory sitting on one side of a CPU with a bank of dull slots on a other side of a socket.
In summary, a Core X-Series processors and a X299 chipset demeanour to be absolute and well-equipped for all kinds of high-end hardware. But what accurately we can implement in an X299 motherboard depends a whole lot on a accurate chip we devise on putting in it. So, if you’re formulation a build, you’ll wish to spend some peculiarity time with a primer of a motherboard you’re considering, study retard diagrams and specs to make certain a tools we wish will all work with a CPU you’re formulation on buying. And if you’re formulation on including some-more than a medium volume of bandwidth-hungry inclination such as PCIe SSDs and graphics cards, you’ll substantially wish (or likely need) to opt for a Skylake X chip, not one of a Kaby Lake varieties that we’re looking during here.
That’s a poignant issue, to a minds, since we effectively get a same assisting of PCI Express lanes either we opt for an X299 motherboard and a Core i7-7740X or Core i5-7640X (16 lanes on a CPU and 24 lanes on a board), or a Z270 motherboard and a Core i7-7700K (16 lanes on a CPU and 24 on a board). That creates a initial Kaby Lake Core X chips tough to disagree for unless (a) we wish a height we can grow into, adding some-more components and a improved CPU down a line, or (b) opening is improved on a Kaby Lake X chips compared to their Core counterparts on Intel’s mainstream LGA 1151 platform.
We’ve already dynamic that a latter isn’t unequivocally a case, during slightest with a Core i7-7740X. We’ll get a improved demeanour during how a Core X i5 chip fares when we get to a benchmark tests. We’ll do that shortly, nonetheless initial let’s lift divided from all of a backgrounder and take a closer demeanour during a Core i5-7640X itself.
The Core i5-7640X: The Details
With a sum about a height and chipset out of a way, let’s take a closer demeanour during a Core i5-7640X processor specifically.
This quad-core, four-thread chip’s 4GHz bottom time is pretty high, generally compared to a 3.3GHz bottom time of a Core i9-7900X. But a Core i5’s limit batch Turbo Boost is customarily 200MHz higher, during 4.2GHz. That’s not many of a strike as Turbo Boost upticks go, nonetheless it does compare a tip batch speed of Intel’s stream high-end Core i5 in a mainstream lineup, a Core i5-7600K. We saw a same Turbo Boost time speed relating between a Core i7-7700K and a Core X-Series Core i7-7740X. So it seems that Intel is going out of a approach to make certain a Kaby Lake Core X chips broach identical opening to a mainstream-computing-platform counterparts. The time speed similarities positively can’t be an accident.
And we saw in a examination of a Core i7-7740X that it indeed unequivocally closely matched a opening of a Core i7-7700K. Given a above-mentioned clock-speed similarities, we pattern a same to be loyal of a Core i5-7640X contra a Core i5-7600K, nonetheless we haven’t indeed tested a latter chip. (We did exam a Intel Core i5-6600K, a previous-gen equivalent.)
Intel also rates a Core i5-7640X during 112 watts TDP (thermal pattern power, a dimensions of feverishness dissipation), a same as a Core i7-7640X. That’s reduce than a 140-watt-rated Core i9-7900X, nonetheless that chip has 2.5 times a cores and five times a threads of a Core i5. The Core i5-7600K, that runs on a same Kaby Lake architecture, again has identical time speeds and a same volume of cores, and it’s rated during 91 watts. We’re not certain where a additional 21 watts in Intel’s rating is entrance from. If anything, a Core i5-7640X should have a lower TDP than a Core i5-7600K, as a Core X-Series chip lacks graphics silicon for gaming or customarily doing arrangement output. With anything on a Core X-Series platform, you’ll have to yield a dedicated graphics card.