Maximum PC - - DREAM MACHINE 2017 -

The name of the game this time is 10 cores and 20 threads. In­tel’s lat­est Sky­lake X parts are some of the gnarli­est we’ve seen. With a reimag­ined smart-cache su­per­struc­ture and a top-end turbo of 4.3GHz, the Core i97900X is a sin­gle-core IPC-de­mol­ish­ing and multi-core ren­der­ing pow­er­house.

This is also In­tel’s first use of its Turbo 3.0 tech. Sim­i­lar to AMD’s XFR smart over­clock­ing, in ap­pli­ca­tions that ag­gres­sively use fewer than four threads, the Core i9-7900X al­lo­cates the process to its “best” cores, and boosts their clock speeds up to 4.5GHz. Any­thing ca­pa­ble of max­ing out more than four brings the en­tire chip back to the 4.3GHz stan­dard Max Turbo.

Com­pared to last year, we’ve also seen im­prove­ments to the num­ber of PCIe lanes (from 40 to 44), an in­crease in DDR4 mem­ory sup­port, and the DMI (di­rect me­dia in­ter­face be­tween the pro­ces­sor and chipset) im­prove from 4x PCIe 2.0 lanes to 4x PCIe 3.0, to al­le­vi­ate any bot­tle­necks.

The Core i9’s true po­ten­tial, how­ever, lies in its over­clock­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. It’s an in­trigu­ingly mixed bag. And, for once, we’re not lim­ited by sil­i­con in­sta­bil­ity, but by ther­mals. There’s no deny­ing the i9-7900X is one hell of a hot chip. Even with a 240mm AIO cool­ing the 10-cored be­he­moth, over­clock­ing even to 4.5GHz can lead to ther­mal throt­tling hit­ting that TJMax of 100 C. That said, if you can cir­cum­vent the cool­ing conundrums with a sound liq­uid-cooled setup, it’s not im­pos­si­ble to see 4.8GHz or 4.9GHz—po­ten­tially even 5.0GHz—on this pow­er­house of a chip, push­ing Cinebench R15 scores all the way up to 2,600-plus, and smash­ing CPU-heavy ren­der­ing times into the dirt.

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