2017 has been a remarkable year for processor development


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 2017 has been the year of the CPU – we can’t recall a year when new product launches were so frequent. And these aren’t meaningless 100MHz bumps in performance either, as both AMD and Intel have been on a roll.

To recap, Intel kicked off 2017 with the initial Kaby Lake desktop launch in January. AMD followed with its first major architectural overhaul in more than five years, with a staggered rollout of its Ryzen 7, 5, and 3 processors, and finally the beastly Threadripper.

Intel also released its Skylake-X 6-10 core models, and Kaby Lake-X processors, and later the 12-18-core parts, topping out with the Core i9-7980XE. And wrapping things up, Intel’s Coffee Lake brings six cores/12 threads to its mainstream platform with new 300-series chipsets. That’s at least five major launches, complete with new chipsets, in 2017.

By comparison, in 2016, Intel’s Broadwell-E was the only fully new line of processors, and Intel was again the primary name in the processor space in 2015, with the launch of Skylake and LGA1151. AMD’s Godavari refresh was unfortunately still slower than the FX-series Piledriver chips it launched in 2012.

If your primary interest is PC gaming, many older CPUs remain perfectly acceptable solutions, but if you’re running CPU-intensive workloads, the deluge of new processors breathes new life into what has been a stagnating market.

Intel claims top bragging rights in the consumer CPU rankings with the i9-7980XE and the i9-7960X, but at half the price, Threadripper is impressive in its own right. In short, right now it’s a fantastic time to be a PC enthusiast.

Everyone from bargain-hunters to well-funded enthusiasts has something to consider. And if you’re already rocking a perfectly capable processor in your machine, there are still plenty of other ways in which you can upgrade your system. Let’s just hope that 2018 can keep up the pace!