Broadwell-E review: Intel’s ten-core Core i7-6950X tested
Broadwell-E review: Performance
So how does the new chip fare in the performance tests? I ran it through our demanding 4K benchmarks to see how it compares with the previous-generation processor.
At base clock speed, the Intel Core i7-6950X is monstrously fast and, as you’d expect, it outperforms the Haswell-E Core i7-5960X comfortably, posting the fastest multitasking and overall scores we’ve seen from a desktop processor.
That’s an improvement of 14% in the video-editing test, 17% in the multitasking test, and 19% in the overall score. The score to take the most note of here, however, is the single-threaded image editing score, in which the Core i7-6950X provides an enormous performance boost – 67% – over the Core i7-5960X. It looks like Turbo Boost Max is doing its job here.
This is not a chip that’s intended to be left at stock frequency, however; it’s for enthusiasts and tinkerers. And without too much effort we were able to get all ten cores up to 3.9GHz without a hint of instability.
Here, the single-core performance of the Broadwell-E is even more pronounced. Although the 4.3GHz overclock we performed on the Haswell-E back in 2014 was nominally higher, the 3.9GHz Broadwell stomps all over it with an overall score of 280, and leaves Haswell-E – and every other consumer desktop processor – in the dust.
At this point, it’s worth noting that you may need to spend a little extra on cooling. We mated our Core i7-6950X with a Cooler Master Hyper 612 Ver.2, which, even with its large, air-cooled radiator, was only able to keep core temperatures down to 36°C at idle and 84°C under load.
Test PC specifications
Intel Core i7-6950X
Asus X99-Deluxe II
AMD R7 260X GPU
8GB (2x4GB) RAM
240GB Sandisk Extreme II SSD
Broadwell-E review: Verdict
So it’s quick, then. The question is, do you really need all of those extra cores? If it’s the very best performance that you want, and damn the cost, the answer has to be yes.
Broadwell-E, at least in the form of the ten-core Core i7-6950X I’ve looked at here, is an absolute beast, and a huge improvement over the previous eight-core Haswell-E i7-5960X.
The big disappointment is the price. Where previous top-specification Extreme Edition processors have been expensive, they’ve normally clocked in at £800-900. This time, the flagship CPU is £1,300 including VAT, and that’s nearly five times (yes, you read that right: FIVE TIMES) more expensive than the fastest, non-extreme Skylake Core i7 processor available today.
It it worth it? That depends entirely on your perspective: if you have plenty of spare cash, undoubtedly. For everyone else, Broadwell-E may well be an investment too far.