Intel 6950X 6900K 6850K CPU Review
Published: 31st May 2016 | Source: Intel | Price: |
If ever a conclusion nearly wrote itself, this one is it.
The new Intel Broadwell-E processors follow in a long line of premium Intel offerings by coming in at an eye-watering price only matched by the jaw-dropping performance. This is hardly the range of processors for those of us on a budget, but as a glimpse into the future and a reason to wonder which of our children we could sell or whether our rich Uncle has got a nasty cough, they are unparalleled.
It will come as a surprise to precisely nobody, except maybe AMD, that the Ten-Core, twenty Hyperthreads i7-6950X has more performance available to it than you're ever likely to use. It's the perfect processor for those of you who do a lot of 3D rendering work, or converting HD video of your gaming exploits. Even amateur film-makers know the pain of hitting the export button and having to go on holiday for a long weekend whilst it processes. No longer an issue with so many cores read and willing to chomp through any task thrown at them. The i7-6950X has more threads than Egyptian cotton sheets and is just as luxurious.
The mid-range, which is a laughable term given its price and performance but it is the middle of the Broadwell-E range so it's strictly accurate, i7-6900K is probably the star of the show. We expect the flagship 6950X to do well, and we expect the i7-6850K to be similar to the current i7-5960X given the architectural improvements, but the Intel Core i7-6900K made maximum use of it's 8/16 core/thread count and was as spectacular whether in its stock 3.7GHz guise or with our 4.3GHz overclock on board. Yes, it is overkill for the majority of desktop tasks that you will use, but if you need a lot of threads but can't quite afford the top of the range offering, it's a nice compromise between staggering performance and relative affordability.
At the bottom of the three Broadwell-E models we tested is the i7-6850K. Obviously it's not at the actual bottom - in the grand scheme of processors it's still right at the top - but it's the closest to something we already have. The six cores of the i7-6850K match up to the six cores of the i7-5820K. We'd expect the architectural changes alone to be worthy of placing the i7-6850K above its predecessor in our graphs, which it does, but the old i7-5960X still matches calculative capabilities with the best of them and shows it's not ready to be put out to pasture just yet. Not every bit of refinement can be overcome by the sheer weight of the Octo-core 5960X.
All of the three Broadwell-E processors overclock like champions. With outstanding memory speed capabilities, more Cache than Dr Dre (ha), and eager overclocking chops despite their excellent power efficiency, the tinkerers and tweakers amongst you will have plenty to get their teeth into. Any negatives? Well obviously the price, but that's hardly new for flagship Intel CPUs. Equally if you're a solid gamer uninterested in tasks that require more CPU power than GPU power then there is little reason to expend quite so much investment into these new processors.
However, you wouldn't buy one of the new Core i7 Broadwell-E range if you just planned to play DOTA 2 and some light browsing. These are heavy hitting CPUs capable of breezing through the most demanding tasks, whilst doing so with efficient power delivery and all the latest technologies on board, and for that reason they wouldn't win anything but our own flagship Enthusiast Award.
We reviewed the CPU's on the Asus X99-A II one of the most wallet friendly X99 boards available because this allows us to get a really good baseline for future motherboard reviews. Despite its reasonable price and lower end of the market targeting it has performed brilliantly throughout our testing process. Learning a new product can be incredibly frustrating but the X99-A II has looked after us very well and despite some pre-release BIOS memory related quirks it has been faultless. If you are looking for a value targeted X99 board to base your next system then this really should be at the top of your list of possibilities and because of this we also award the X99-A II the OC3D Approved award.
You can discuss your thoughts on our Broadwell-E Round Up in the OC3D Forums.