Over the last few years, there has been a ton of newfound competition in the CPU space – reigniting the endless war of AMD vs Intel. Enter Skylake-X, Intel’s answer to AMD’s massively successful Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs.
In 2017, AMD revealed the Ryzen line of processors, and caught Intel by surprise. For a while, we didn’t know how Intel would respond. There were rumors that Intel would launch Cannon Lake at Computex 2017, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Intel announced a new line of Core i9 HEDT processors, based on the Skylake-X architecture.
And, Skylake-X successfully competed with AMD. Intel launched the Core i9-7980XE at Computex 2017, and while we all saw it coming, we were impressed by the performance – even if it was so expensive that most users couldn’t afford it. But, it doesn’t end there.
A little more than a year later, Intel announced the new HEDT Basin Falls Refresh line of processors, based on Skylake-X’s architecture, along with a 28-core Xeon W chip due to release in late 2018.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Intel’s 8th Generation high-end desktop processors
- When is it out? June 2017
- What will it cost? From $389 (£329, AU$519) to $1,979 (£1,649, AU$2,729)
Intel released the lower-end Skylake-X processors immediately following their reveal at Computex 2017 with the Core i7-7800X, Core i7-7820X and Core i9-7900X. All of which released on June 19, 2017.
And then, Intel released three more enterprise-level processors in the following months, with the Intel Core i9-7920X, Core i9-7940X and Core i9-7960X all releasing by September 2017. Then, finally, Intel launched the beast itself, the Core i9-7980XE in late september, absolutely destroying everything in its path.
And, now that Kaby Lake-X chips are a thing – or, were a thing when they died unceremoniously – you might be thinking to yourself that all the fun ended with the 7980XE. However, Skylake-X isn’t dead yet.
Intel’s newest addition to this family was announced on October 8, 2018 in the form of the 28-core Intel Xeon W-3175X processor. This latest Skylake-X chip is due to ship by December 2018.
The biggest thing holding Intel Skylake-X chips from an easy recommendation is their price – they’re some of the most expensive consumer CPUs you can buy today. If you want to pick up a Core i9 processor for your latest build, you might actually need to sell your car first, as they start out around $999 (about £750, AU$1,340).
Now, the Core i7 Skylake X processors are a bit more reasonable, but you’re still paying to adopt a high-end platform, so don’t expect to base a budget build off of Skylake-X. Below you can find the pricing for all of the Skylake-X processors currently available.
- Intel Core i7-7800X: $383 ( £329, AU$519)
- Intel Core i7-7820X: $589 (£509, AU$799)
- Intel Core i9-7900X: $989 (£819, AU$1,309)
- Intel Core i9-7920X: $1,189 (£990, AU$1,589)
- Intel Core i9-7940X: $1,387 (£1,099, AU$1,899)
- Intel Core i9-7960X: $1,684 (£1,399, AU$2,279)
- Intel Core i9-7980XE: $1,979 (£1,649, AU$2,729)
As for the Basin Falls Refresh chips coming out later this year, we don’t know the pricing yet. However, we do know that the 28-core A-series chip is going to be extremely expensive – building a PC with that CPU slotted in will likely set you back $10,000.
This is where Intel flexes its silicon muscles with Skylake-X. If you have the cash, you’re going to have a hard time finding better performance from a consumer CPU. At least, until the CPUs Intel and AMD showed off at Computex 2018 make it to market.
With the Skylake-X Core i9 processors, you’re paying for core counts that are, frankly, bananas. Starting with the Core i9-7900X, you’re getting 10 cores with 20 threads – clocked at 3.3GHz with a boost clock of 4.3GHz and a 13.75MB L3 cache. Even at the baseline, the Core i9 processors are overkill for anything like gaming.
It only gets better from here. The Core i9-7920X includes 12-cores and 24-threads with a core clock of 2.9GHz that turbos up to 4.3GHz – with an even more impressive 16.5MB L3 Cache. Then, you have the Core i9-7940X with 14-cores and 28-threads, with core clock of 3.1GHz and boosting up to 4.3GHz. This is topped off with a whopping 19.25MB L3 cache.
Then, when you get to the top end of the Core i9 stack, you get processors that defy physics. The Core i9-7960X features 16-cores, 32-threads, a 4.2GHz boost clock and 22MB of L3 Cache. And, if that’s still not enough, the top-of-the-line Core i9-7980XE comes with 18 cores and 36 threads, clocked at 2.6GHz with a 4.2GHz boost clock.
If these absurdly high-end processors are a little out of your reach, there are still some high-performing Skylake-X processors that don’t cost as much as your car.
There are two Skylake-X Core i7 processors available in the Core i7-7800X and the Core i7-7820X. While they don’t reach the same highs as their Core i9 counterparts, they’re still worthwhile chips. The Core i7-7800X features 6-cores and 12-threads, clocked at 3.5GHz with a turbo boost of 4.0GHz. The Core i7-7820X is much beefier, with 8-cores and 16-threads, clocking in at 3.6GHz and boosting up to 4.3GHz.
Now, we’d actually recommend going with the Core i7-7800X or the Core i7-7820X for most average users. However, as you can see above, if your workload requires it, Intel Skylake-X allows for massive amounts of computational power – as long as you have the budget to support it.
Keep in mind, though, that none of these Skylake-X processors come with a heatsink in the box. However, if you’re using this high-end platform, you’re probably going to be using an aftermarket cooler anyways, so no big loss there.
Intel newest Skylake-X chip, the Intel Xeon W-3175X, seems to be beyond the realm of these other HEDT chips. With a name like Xeon, this CPU is designed for more enterprise usage than enthusiast overclocking.
Although the chip first debuted at Computex 2018 with a 5.0GHz boost clock, it was later revealed that Intel was actually overclocking while immersing the chip in liquid-nitrogen. Without an extreme setup, you're more likely to see this chip running at a maximum 4.3GHz.
Although Intel has yet to reveal a new chipset for the Xeon W-3175X, this CPU comes with a greatly expanded support platform. Team Blue has said the chip will support 68 PCIe lanes, 6-channel memory for up to 512GB of RAM running at 2,666MHz. All told, this maybe the processor to finally outpace the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and Threadripper 2970WX.
- Meanwhile, AMD is forging ahead with Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation