Intel does Something Amazing!
The reality is, being on top can get pretty boring. Nothing proves this more than Intel’s CPU market. Lately, all we’ve seen from them is minor improvements using existing architecture trying to give consumers a reason to spend money that hardly anybody has. Instead, people are pretty much buying the Intel latest if they were planning a major upgrade anyway or they have pretty deep pockets. Unfortunately, much of what I was hearing about the Haswell refresh, the Haswell-E, was much of the same, but then I saw one release that absolutely blew my mind.
Many of you would be surprised to hear me say say that the eight core i7-5960X chip isn’t all that exciting but before you hack my IP and fry my computer, hear me out. While it’s true this is Intel’s first 8-core consumer chip, the specs are a little bit of a give and take. Eight cores and an L3 cache boost force the sacrifice of a pretty significant amount of frequency. This means we can expect some significant multi-threaded performance, but the single core performance probably won’t be blowing away the charts. At what looks to be around a $1000 price tag, this doesn’t seem to be a worthy investment for the average user/gamer in consumer computing. (Then again, when is it ever at $1000!) The next chip, the i7-5930K, is more of a minor factory boost from the i7-4930K. Since both CPUs have six cores, the trade off is getting a slightly higher frequency and L3 cache, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is even more heat issues while trying to overclock with the extra 10w TDP in spite of Intel claiming great overclocking support.
With all this doom and gloom it’s hard to imagine what Intel did that’s so amazing but then I saw the i7-5820K and my mouth began to drool. The frequency and turbo are slightly lower than the 4820K but the L3 cache gets a pretty significant 5MB boost to 15MB. That’s not the kicker though. The real perk is the 2 extra cores in the die. That’s right, this is a six core chip with 12 threads. Now that may not be a huge deal seeing as how Intel has had numerous 6 core chips in the past, but then I saw the price tag. If what’s being speculated is true, then the pricing should be around the $300-$350 range! Besides the obvious reason of price to performance, this is huge for two other reasons. Not only do you get to jump into the new DDR4 ram with such a good chip, but with the slew of affordable, great overclocking and gaming motherboards coming out from other manufacturers, the idea of building a new system like this at a reasonable cost is very realistic. I’m not saying it’s going to be cheap, but I believe it will be so worth cost that many enthusiasts will be saving their pennies to jump into this chipset. In fact, I plan on having a kid just so I can sell it and build a new system! (Not really.)
Even though Intel isn’t releasing anything revolutionary here, I believe the entry level six core chip is a great nod to hardware enthusiasts everywhere. Even at the $550 price tag, I could never imagine owning previous high end chips and $1000 wasn’t happening in my wildest dreams. However, the $350 price tag isn’t too far of a stretch if I save up or wait for a good income tax return. The CPU market has felt pretty stagnant and while I’m still excited to see AMD’s new designs coming out in the next year or two, I’m pleased to say that Intel has brought something to the table that is not only exciting, but something realistic to strive for.