Intel targets ‘extreme’ enthusiasts with X-Series processors

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Brent Alexander

The future is here and it has 18 cores.

Intel has taken to the stage at Computex in Taipei to unveil its newest range of processors, dubbed the X-Series. With its eyes set on content creators, overclockers and pro-gamers (plenty of whom are crowding the Computex halls this week) Intel is pulling out all the superlatives it can muster to talk up the “extreme” processing power offered by its new prosumer range.

But extreme don’t come cheap.

As the world waits patiently for Intel’s eighth generation processors, the company says its next iteration of seventh-gen chips will offer “extreme enthusiasts” greater speeds and less downtime with its most powerful range of processors to date.

These aren’t the kind of processors that are going to power your next family PC, and that’s why the top-of-the-line chip will set you back a cool $2K. But the X-Series is built for a niche market. Sure, we’ve seen updates to processors for laptops and PCs already this year from Intel, but we didn’t get anything meaningfully faster than what we already had.



With the traditional PC market stagnating over the past two years, Intel has to up the ante and target high-end consumers looking for a power fix

And that’s where those 18 cores come in.

The X-Series will range from four to 10 core chips, with Intel promising 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-core options in the future. To put it simply, more cores give you more processing power and Intel’s architecture makes sure the right core is optimised for the right job.

We saw 10-core processing power with last year’s Broadwell-E launch, which brought improvements in processing power and a focus on “megatasking” (think multitasking, but for people who have epic stuff to do).

This year, Intel is going one better with “extreme megatasking.” (There’s that “E” word again). Aside from sounding like a side-effect of too much caffeine, that essentially means the ability to run multiple “compute intensive” tasks at a time.

As examples, Intel said editors could run Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Lightroom and handle multi-gigabyte files without a meltdown. Content creators will be able to stitch together six concurrent 4K streams to create 360-degree video like it’s no big deal. Pro gamers will be able to capture 4K gameplay, livestream it to fans and record their highlight reel all at once.


Brent Alexander

And overclockers? They’ll have all the knobs they’ve ever dreamed of.

We saw some of these features with Broadwell-E, but as with all chip updates, the X-Series promises to do it faster, better and with less downtime.

We’re also getting updated Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 to improve single- and dual-core performance.

Now, time for the price tag. The 10-core X-Series (Core i9-7900X) will retail for $999 (£780, AU$1,340), while 18-cores of grunt (Core i9-7980XE) will retail for $1,999 when it’s released (£1,560, AU$2,683). And don’t forget, that new processing power will need a new motherboard (the new CPUs use a new socket) so you’re looking at a significant overhaul of hardware.

But at least it will be extreme.

Check out the rest of CNET’s Computex 2016 coverage here.

What you can’t miss from CES 2017: Not in Vegas? CNET shows you all the stuff you’ve just gotta see.

All the cool new gadgets from CES 2017: The stuff that impressed us most at this year’s show.

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