Intel Core i7-6900K Processor Review

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Intel Core i7-6900K Broadwell-E CPU Performance

AMD showed at the New Horizon event that their upcoming Ryzen 8-core 16-thread processors running at 3.4 GHz with 20 MB of cache can compete with the Intel Core i7-6900K Broadwell-E processor, which is Intel’s High-End Desktop Platform (HEDT) 8-core 16-thread CPU (3.2 GHz base/3.7 GHz Boost/20MB Cache) that costs $1029.64 shipped over at Amazon. That is impressive seeing how the AMD FX Series of processors struggles to keep up with most any Intel quad-core processor released over the past several years. We’ve never actually benchmarked the Intel Core i7-6900K processor and seeing how AMD is focusing the performance of Ryzen against that particular processor it seemed like it might be a good idea to have an Intel 8-core processor in our benchmark charts for comparison sake. We are also very interested in seeing how the 6900K performs in our updated benchmark test suite for 2017.

Intel Core i7-6900K Processor

Intel Broadwell-E LGA2011-3 Desktop CPU Lineup

SKU Name Cores/Threads Core Clock Boost Clock L3 Cache TDP PCIe Lanes Price (USD)
Core i7-6950X 10/20 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 25 MB 140W 40 $1635
Core i7-6900K 8/16 3.2 GHz 3.7 GHz 20 MB 140W 40 $1030
Core i7-6850K 6/12 3.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 15 MB 140W 40 $570
Core i7-6800 6/12 3.4 GHz 3.6 GHz 15 MB 140W 28 $420

 

The Intel Core i7-6950X and Core i7-6900K processor are aimed at those that need as many processing cores that they can get on a desktop platform. If four or six cores aren’t enough and you have the proper funds, you can move up to an eight or ten core processor. Thanks to Intel Hyper-Threading technology you’ll actually end up with double that number when it comes to threads, so you can run up to 20 simultaneous operations at once!  All four of these HEDT parts have Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 and the good news on that front is that Microsoft has been offering native support for that since Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607 and beyond). If you are running an older OS you’ll need to install a separate driver on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and earlier Windows 10 releases. You can find that driver here if you are needing it.

For those that have unlimited cash and want the most cores available, the Intel Core i7-6950X for $1635 is the easy choice. If you actually have a budget the Intel Core i7-6900K is an interesting processor as it costs roughly 37% less than the 6950X and has faster clocked cores despite having 20% fewer. The Core i7-6900K’s base and boost clock speeds are each 200 MHz higher than the Core i7-6950X 10-core processor, so it might actually be faster on lightly threaded applications. Both processors have 40 PCI Express lanes, so you don’t have to worry about the limitations of the Intel Core i7-6800 on Intel X99 platforms.

Intel Core i7 6900k CPU-Z

Since this processor has been out since Q2’2016 we’ll get right to the benchmarks after looking at the test systems on the next page.

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  • Terry Perry

    What a Crock in ALL the forums they say the 6-8 Cores are Worthless Over Kill. Unless you spend ALL day editing and want to save time then it Becomes a TAX Wright off as a Business Expense. Other wise they have NO Use. My 2500 stock Blows through All games steam and Origin Max Out. I bought a Devil Canyon for 190$ that is even Over KILL. All these Stories are Just Advertisement to SELL something you Don’t need. And if AMD is really that Good Intel WILL have to drop their Prices in HALF.

    • tristan smith

      well it’s overkill until our software becomes so complex that we need the overkill as standard.

  • bennyg

    You’d have to be a complete idiot to buy a broadwell-E right now and not wait until Ryzen proves it’s better and/or Intel drops prices to compete

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    My 3970X is holding strong. Love how my memory was supposed to be max 55gb/s and is actually running more like 62-65gb/s reads and writes. 64gb of quad channel ddr3 2400mhz is holding up just fine.

  • Eric Matthews

    “Both processors have 40 PCI Express lanes, so you don’t have to worry about the limitations of the Intel Core i7-6800 on Intel X99 platforms.”

    I don’t think the 28 PCI Express lanes on the Intel Core i7-6800K is a serious limitation. In SLI or crossfire, 8 PCI express lanes are enough to drive a second GPU without a bottleneck. Or you can just forget about SLI or Crossfire – a single GTX 1080 get’s the job done – even at 4K. You may have to dial back settings in the latest games – which I’ve done and the games still look great. Only in the most heavy threaded applications will you benefit from having 8 cores over 6. Those applications always make you wait…you’ll still be waiting…only waiting less. If your workload is only sometimes heavy threaded (Arguably 99+% of people on the planet) then you can save yourself another $600.

    When you compare the extra money spent versus the performance gained, the i7-6800K really shines.

    • Basket of Winning ✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

      Agreed.

      And the 6800K isn’t even in the comparison charts.
      Funny how that works …

      Fake News

      • tristan smith

        “Fake News” really? is it not good to have nonsense out there that way we have to learn how to discern real from fake? correct me if i am wrong.

        • Basket of Winning ✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

          ‘Triggered’ !

  • Dorian Kunch

    Nate, thanks for the thorough review and including my 2700K at 4.5 in da mix. I can still sit tight.