Intel Core i9 7900X Skylake-X & Core i7 7740X Kaby Lake-X review: rushed release raises the bar

Intel reinforces lead and introduces most unnecessary CPU ever

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Introduction

Today, Intel introduces five new high-end desktop processors, called the Core X-series. All CPUs utilize a new socket (Socket 2066), and have to be used in conjunction with motherboards that have a new chipset (Intel X299). The new CPUs are divided into two families, Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X. The now available top model has 10 cores, but Intel already announced that we can expect models with up to 18 cores in the future. We tested the top model from both series: the 10-core i9 7900X and the quad-core Core i7 7740X.


Intel Core i9 7900X Boxed Intel Core i7 7740X Boxed

If you followed the Computex news in the first week of June, the release of the new processors should not come as a surprise. Intel announced these during their press conference. Furthermore, Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X were already part of their release schedule; that Intel would announce that their new high-end chips have up to 10 cores is in line with expectations. The news was primarily in the moment of the announcement – this introduction was only planned for two months later – and mostly in the announcement of desktop CPUs with 12, 14, 16 and even 18 cores. We will have to wait a while yet for these models: Intel states that the models with the highest amount of cores will be available come October. Nevertheless it is difficult not to link this early and upscaled release to the successful introduction of AMD’s new Ryzen-architecture and the corresponding processors.

While we do have to wait for the models that truly have a lot of cores, Intel does introduce a substantial amount of new models today. Of these five the Core i9 7900X (10 cores), Core i7 7820X (8 cores) and the Core i7 7800 (6 cores) are based on the Skylake-X chip. These are the desktop counterparts to the new generation of Intel Xeon server-CPUs, that will be introduced soon. Note that Intel uses the name Core i9 for the first time ever. The new 10-core chip has an American price of $ 999. With that, Intel practically lowers the price point of a 10-core chip with 42% (!) compared with the previous generation high-end desktop CPUs.



The Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X processors are released as Core i5, Core i7 and for the first time ever Core i9.

The Core i7 7740X and the i5 7640X are completely different. These so-called Kaby Lake-X CPUs might use the same new Socket 2066 as the Skylake-X chips, but are based on the exact same 4-core Skylake chip that we already know from for example the Core i7 7700K and Core i5 7600K from the Socket 1151 desktop platform. This is something that Intel does for the first time and has some caveats- more on that on the next page.

With the new CPUs Intel targets consumers and semi-professional users that want the best performance possible. On the one hand, the company defines these audiences as so-called content creators, for example people that do 3D-rendering or 4K video editing, tasks that scale well with more cores. For the semi-professional user the release of models with more than 10 cores is certainly great news; up until this point you would have to use a much more expensive Xeon-processor with specific motherboards that are extremely expensive as well. Aside from this target audience, Intel of course puts the focus on the most demanding gamers as well. For example gamers that want to directly stream their content to services such as Twitch.

We tested the Core i9 7900X and the Core i7 7740X extensively using a completely revamped test method, with a lot of new benchmarks. Of course we compare the CPUs with the Intel’s current high-end desktop CPUs, but also with popular CPUs such as the Core i7 7700K and of course with AMD’s Ryzen chips.


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