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Intel Core i7-6900K Review (On ASUS Strix X99 Gaming)

Intel Core i7-6900K Review (On ASUS Strix X99 Gaming)

It’s that time again… the NDA has expired on a new range of Intel products and this time it’s the high-end of the CPU market which is getting some love. For everyone who loves their X99 systems on socket 2011-3 Intel is releasing the refresh for Haswell-E, Broadwell-E. With unlocked CPUs, loads of cores and a nice clock speed bump or two, they should be of interest to all enthusiast users. Today in our Intel Core i7-6900K Review we take a look at one of those new high-end products and see how it fares against the best of the last generation, the i7-5960X.

Intel Core i7-6900K Review – The CPU

intel-core-i7-6900k-review-cpu intel-core-i7-6900k-review-base

Shown above is the 140w Intel Core i7-6900K and in many ways, it follows a similar external design to other Intel CPUs, that said the very edge of the plate on top of the processor has had a tweak to the edges. Flipping the CPU over we see the socket 2011-3 layout and in terms of the base design we have a 14nm Broadwell family chip. Of course, the specifications have been changed significantly on this high end/enthusiast model compared to the last Broadwell CPUs in the mainstream with the i7-6900K featuring 8cores and 16threads, that’s double what we find on the fastest mainstream parts, such as the i7-6700K. Cache levels are set to 32Kb of L1 data and instruction per core, 8x256KB of L2 and 20MB of shared L3 cache. The Intel Core i7-6900K runs at 3.2GHz as standard with turbo functionality peaking at 3.7GHz

Intel is also launching two CPUs with 6 core configurations, the i7-6800K (3.4-3.6GHz) and i7-6850K (3.6-3.8GHz), both with 15mb of L3 cache. Then, sitting right at the top of the product stack will be the i7-6950X. That is a 3.0-3.5GHz CPU with 10 cores and 20 threads all with access to 25MB of L3 Cache. (Turbo-Boost has been enhanced on these new CPUs as has overclocking functionality with per-core overclocking available as well as AVX Ratio Offset and VccU Voltage control.)

bdwecpuz

Intel Core i7-6900K Review – The ASUS Strix X99 Gaming

asus-strix-x99-gaming-review-2 asus-strix-x99-gaming-motherboard

We will be covering the ASUS Strix X99 Gaming motherboard in a full review over the next couple of days, for today we’ve got a few images for you. Also worthy of note is that all of the testing for this article was completed on the Strix board. It supports both the older Haswell-E parts such as the 5960X and the brand new 6900K (and all other Broadwell-E CPUs on socket 2011-3).

Here are a few of the key features:

  • Intel® Core™ i7 X-Series processors on LGA 2011-v3 socket
  • Quad-channel DDR4 3333 (OC) support
  • OC Socket, 5-Way Optimization and second-generation T-Topology: Easy and stable overclocking
  • Aura RGB illumination, Aura 4-pin RGB-strip header and customizable color decals: True gaming aesthetics
  • SupremeFX and Sonic Radar II: Flawless audio with stealthy, game-dominating overlay
  • Top-speed protected networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet, LANGuard and GameFirst technology
  • Gamer’s Guardian: SafeSlot and smart DIY features
  • Ultra-speedy transfers for faster gaming: 2×2 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, U.2 and M.2, USB 3.1 Type A+C, RAMCache

For those who want to know a little more about the ASUS boards which are designed for Broadwell-E, check out our ASUS X99 Deluxe 2 Review from a couple of weeks ago!

asus-strix-x99-gaming-motherboard asus-strix-x99-gaming-drives asus-strix-x99-gaming-memslots asus-strix-x99-gaming-io bios ai3

 

Intel Core i7-6900K Review – Performance

Test systems:
I7-5960X, ASUS Strix X99 Gaming, 4x8GB DDR4-2800(Corsair)
i7-6700K, Z170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)
i7-5960X, ASUS Strix X99 Gaming, 4x8GB DDR4-2800 (Corsair)
FX-9590, 990FX, 4x8Gb DDR3-2133 (Corsair)

All with:
Windows 10
GTX 980 Ti OC
Corsair H100 Series Cooler
Corsair AX1500i PSU
Samsung 850 Pro SSD (SATA Testing)
Samsung 950 (M.2 Testing)
OCZ Revodrive 350 (PCIe Testing)
And Samsung T3 SSD (USB Testing)

On a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench with the BenQ BL3201 4k Display

intel-core-i7-6900K-review-cinebench

intel-core-i7-6900K-review-3dmark intel-core-i7-6900K-review-bfh intel-core-i7-6900K-review-music intel-core-i7-6900K-review-memory intel-core-i7-6900K-review-cinebench-oc

Intel Core i7-6900K Review – Conclusion

Looking at the 6900K in comparison to the best CPU of the last generation, the i7-5960X it is hard not to be impressed. The new Broadwell-E range slots into existing socket 2011-3 systems, as well as all the boards we have seen launched over the last few weeks and brings with it significant improvements.

Not only do we get our first 10-core CPU for desktop, we get a 14nm process in the high end of the market and some enhanced memory support as well as a few new overclocking features. The enhancements to turbo boost are a nice bonus, ensuring we get maximum performance out of the box.

In terms of the user experience with the i7-6900K, that was great. We just dropped the CPU into our ASUS Strix X99 Gaming board which was running the latest BIOS and we were good to go. You could even get away with not reinstalling Windows 10 if moving from an older CPU… but a fresh install is always nice (and recommended). Performance was exceptional, outperforming the best processor of the last generation in all tasks and easily outperforming mainstream parts.

In our short time with the processor we ran a few basic overclocking tests, the ASUS board took us to 4.3GHz in auto mode, manually we hit 4.5GHz without issue. We’ll report back with more results in our review of the Strix X99 Gaming Review.

Gold Award

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Intel Core I7-6900K
Author Rating
5

About Author

Stuart Davidson

2 Comments

  1. Dyre Straits

    Looks very appealing! Wonder where my i7 3770K would fit in that bunch? (I have it set to 4.2 GHz, FTR) But, is this duplicate on purpose?

    _______________________
    Test systems:

    I7-5960X, ASUS Strix X99 Gaming, 4x8GB DDR4-2800(Corsair)

    i7-6700K, Z170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)

    i7-5960X, ASUS Strix X99 Gaming, 4x8GB DDR4-2800 (Corsair)

    FX-9590, 990FX, 4x8Gb DDR3-2133 (Corsair)

  2. samer1970

    Hi everyone ,

    Hello ,

    we all know that games dont use more than 8 threads today …

    so to take advantage of an 8 cores or 10 cores CPU in Gaming you should Disable HT (Hyperthreading) and run the gaming test again to compare it against the 4 cores i7 6700K .

    and test it with SLI as well to reach the i7 6700k bottleneck !

    let me put it more simple ,

    The i7 6700K has 4 cores and can oc to 4.4 ghz easy . this CPU will give us 8 Virtual cores comparable to 2.2 GHZ clock for each virtual core .

    However the 8 Coresi7 6900K , With the HT Turned OFF , will give us 8 cores @ 4.4 ghz EACH !

    Thats double the speed of the 4 cores i7 ! if the game uses 8 threads .

    EVEN if we dont OC the 8 cores , it would be 3.2GHZ VS 2.2 GHZ !!!

    if you ask why Disable HT ? simple because the game will never use 16 Virtual cores !!! and the advantage is LOST .

    Please run the test again for games with HT turned off in the 8 cores and 10 cores cpu .

    and to stress the CPU more , TEST SLI as well , we want the i7 6700K to bottleneck !

    THANKS

    oh and Intel Should release i5 Broadwel-E CPU , 8 cores without HT , CHEAPER and BETTER for GAMERS

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