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Intel Core i9-7900X Review: Meet Skylake-X

Workstation & HPC

If you want to know more about our HPC benchmarks, check out the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU Review. We didn't just copy results from that story, though. Rather, after a number of BIOS updates and software configuration changes, we retested everything. This gives us a more up-to-date picture, reflecting improvements of up to 15% that AMD worked hard to enable.

2D Benchmarks: DirectX and GDI/GDI+

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Adding Intel’s new CPU doesn’t yield any surprises in our AutoCAD 2D and GDI/GDI+ graphics benchmarks. The newcomer falls in place exactly where you’d expect based on its frequency.

2D Benchmarks: Adobe Creative Cloud

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The same is true in Adobe's CC apps. Again, performance comes down to clock rate. The Intel Core i9-7900X does well in workloads that challenge more than four cores. However, two of the individual scores do show some need for optimization on Intel’s part, which may be weaknesses related to the mesh topology.

3D Benchmarks: DirectX and OpenGL

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The Core i9-7900X’s graphics performance across individual applications and suites is consistent with our previous findings. Turbo Boost plays a big role here, since few of the popular applications are (yet) able to utilize more than two cores. This calls for a high IPC, which the Core i9-7900X has a much easier time supplying than the Core i7-6950X.

CPU Performance: Workstation

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The 3D graphics performance we just measured isn’t all that matters to professional rendering titles. Applications run many other tasks (like simulations, compute jobs, preview rendering) on the CPU simultaneously. The full picture’s only achievable by looking at both of them together.

AMD’s Ryzen CPUs look good here, which is to say that the Core i9-7900X has to go all-out, and even then has a hard time justifying its price tag.

CPU Performance: Photorealistic Rendering

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Final rendering doesn’t need a jack of all trades. Instead, efficiency and fast parallel computation are key. This is why photorealistic rendering gets its own test section. Intel's Core i9-7900X does really well, beating some of the contenders by huge margins. Only the much less expensive AMD Ryzen 7 1800X can keep up every now and then, which is a nice surprise. The Core i7-6950X can’t compete.

CPU Performance: Encoding & Compression/Decompression

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These types of tasks also fall into the Core i9-7900X's wheelhouse. Decompression is the only field where Intel’s new processor slows down a bit. It's in good company, though. In the end, this workload is only lightly threaded, preventing the -7900X from really shining.

High Performance Computing (HPC)

Intel’s Core i9-7900X shines once again. However, we also have to call out the Ryzen 7 1800X for its exceptional performance, particularly given a much more affordable price tag.

In most tests, Intel’s new processor does dominate the field. This makes it an interesting alternative to expensive Xeon workstations for semi-professional work.

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In the end, Intel’s Core i9-7900X is a good choice for enthusiasts running well-threaded professional tasks, particularly when a Xeon-based workstation might be overkill. Thanks to Turbo Boost, the new processor also performs well when only a small number of cores are in use, emphasizing IPC and clock rate more than parallelism.

This means that the Core i9-7900X kills two birds with one stone by providing high frequencies when just a few cores are active and great multi-threaded performance when dealing with well-threaded tasks. The same certainly can’t be said for its predecessor, the Core i7-6950X.

To be fair, the significantly less expensive AMD Ryzen 7 1800X keeps up with Intel's latest in a number of places. This comes as a surprise, since the numbers we generated when Ryzen launched were markedly worse. Power users who want top performance across the board will definitely get it from Intel, but this choice won’t always result in a speed-up commensurate with Core i9's price premium.


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  • Pros: 10/20 cost now $999
    Cons: Everything else

    My biggest problem with this Intel lineup is that if you want 44 PCIe you have to pay $999. No, thanks. My money goes to AMD ThreadRipper.

    Good review!
    Reply
  • rantoc
    Doubt many who purchase such high end cpu for gaming runs at a low full hd 1080p resolution, i know its more cpu taxing to run lower res at higher fps but that's for the sake of benchmarking the cpu itself.

    I would like to see 1440p + 2160p resolutions on a suitable high end card (1080ti or equalent) benchmarked with the cpu as well as it would represent real scenarios for the peeps considering such cpu.

    Thanks for a good review!
    Reply
  • James Mason
    So it seems like de-lidding the x299 processors is gonna be a standard thing now to replace the TIM?
    Reply
  • elbert
    Meet netburst 2.0 that not only can hit 100c at only (4.7Ghz)1.2v on good water cooler but only barely beats a 7700k not overclocked in games. All this is yours for the low low price of 3X. Its slower than the old 6950x in a few tests with was odd.
    Reply
  • prophet001
    There's obviously a problem if the delta is that high.
    Reply
  • James Mason
    19835717 said:
    Doubt many who purchase such high end cpu for gaming runs at a low full hd 1080p resolution, i know its more cpu taxing to run lower res at higher fps but that's for the sake of benchmarking the cpu itself.

    I would like to see 1440p + 2160p resolutions on a suitable high end card (1080ti or equalent) benchmarked with the cpu as well as it would represent real scenarios for the peeps considering such cpu.

    Thanks for a good review!
    The differences would be less noticeable at higher res than 1080p, so.... you'd just see less dissimilar numbers.
    Reply
  • Dawg__Cester
    Hmmmmm. I bought a Ryzen 1700, a water cooler, Asrock B350 MB, 16gb ram 3200Mhz for $590 plus tax. I live in New Jersey. I was very nervous about making the purchase as I knew this was coming out this week but the sale prices got me. Unless you all think I got ripped off, (DON'T TELL ME). But in all honesty I have not regretted the purchase one bit!! I even managed to save enough to get a GTX 1080 FE GPU. I did have a few bumps in the road getting the system stable (about 3 hours configuring after assembly) but I am VERY happy. I used Intel primarily and never really considered AMD other than for Video adapters and SSDs.
    After reading this along with other articles and YT videos, I have no regerts as I enjoy my Milky Way and play my games among other things.
    Just my experience. I am not seeking positive reinforcement nor advice.
    I just feel very satisfied that I did not wait and cough up 3oo more fore something I could have for less. I know, I know it makes no sense.
    But come on fellas, its the computer game!!
    Reply
  • James Mason
    19835862 said:
    Hmmmmm. I bought a Ryzen 1700, a water cooler, Asrock B350 MB, 16gb ram 3200Mhz for $590 plus tax. I live in New Jersey. I was very nervous about making the purchase as I knew this was coming out this week but the sale prices got me. Unless you all think I got ripped off, (DON'T TELL ME). But in all honesty I have not regretted the purchase one bit!! I even managed to save enough to get a GTX 1080 FE GPU. I did have a few bumps in the road getting the system stable (about 3 hours configuring after assembly) but I am VERY happy. I used Intel primarily and never really considered AMD other than for Video adapters and SSDs.
    After reading this along with other articles and YT videos, I have no regerts as I enjoy my Milky Way and play my games among other things.
    Just my experience. I am not seeking positive reinforcement nor advice.
    I just feel very satisfied that I did not wait and cough up 3oo more fore something I could have for less. I know, I know it makes no sense.
    But come on fellas, its the computer game!!

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant
    CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 1700 3.0GHz 8-Core Processor ($299.39 @ SuperBiiz)
    Motherboard: ASRock - AB350M Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard ($65.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($124.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $490.36
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when availableGenerated by PCPartPicker 2017-06-19 10:47 EDT-0400
    Depends on which watercooler and which ram, but not really.
    Reply
  • Jakko_
    Wow, compared to the Ryzen 1800X, the Intel Core i9-7900X:

    is about 25-30% faster
    costs 105% more
    uses 35-40% more power

    Ryzen looks really good here, and together with the temperature problems, Intel seems to be in some deep shit.
    Reply
  • HardwareExtreme
    Too little, too late. Does Intel really think that just because it has "Intel" written on it that it must be worth $200-$300 than AMD?
    Reply