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Intel Core i7-7820X Skylake-X Review

Final Analysis

Intel's designed its X-series line-up to hit (almost) every budget. Prices in the high-end desktop family range from $242 to $2000. Unfortunately, expensive X299-based motherboards and the need for liquid cooling make it difficult to find value in an Intel HEDT package, particularly compared to AMD's Ryzen 7 and the Skylake-S models.

Adopting a mesh topology for Skylake-X was necessary to pave the way for greater scalability in the future. But the move causes some complications. Core i7-7820X offers great frame rates through our gaming suite. However, we did encounter those same performance peculiarities observed during our Core i9-7900X review. We're told that software optimizations could ameliorate this in the future, and hopefully Intel delivers as quickly as AMD did after launching Ryzen.

Regardless, if gaming is your primary use case, we still recommend Core i7-7700K as the best option, even in high-end PCs. Intel's Z270 chipset is more affordable and more mature than the still-evolving X299 platform. It also leaves you more room to budget for a flagship-class graphics card.

In the past, Intel's HEDT portfolio offered the strongest performance in threaded workloads thanks to lots of cores. It couldn't keep up in single-threaded benchmarks, though, due to lower clock rates. Skylake-X changes this with higher base and Turbo Boost frequencies. The addition of Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 even introduces a 4.5 GHz ceiling that matches the Core i7-7700K. Of course, when you need greater parallelism, the clocks spin down to allow all eight cores to do their work in game streaming, rendering, and semi-professional apps.

Ryzen 7 1800X typically can't beat the -7820X in those scenarios. But it's certainly competitive. AMD's CPU is also $100 cheaper. On top of that, X370-based motherboards cost a lot less than Intel's X299 platform, and liquid-cooling isn't a requirement in Ryzen's case. Without question, the 1800X on an X370 motherboard presents a compelling alternative to Intel's overpriced combo.

Overclocking is a mixed bag on Skylake-X. The Core i7-7820X appears to enjoy quite a bit of frequency headroom. Thermal throttling jumps up to bite you long before the CPU's true potential is realized, though. Although enthusiasts would like to see solder between Intel's die and heat spreader, at least thermal paste isn't as big of a problem for overclockers on the lower-power Core i7-7700K. It's a much bigger issue with the fire-breathing Skylake-X design.

We don't know what to say about vROC, other than charging a premium for hardware keys to unlock RAID functionality won't go over well on the desktop. Intel remains silent on vROC pricing and availability, so for now, the storage redundancy feature lurks inside, waiting to be enabled.

Intel should probably feel lucky that Core i7-7820X won't be going up against AMD's Threadripper, since the cheapest model will sell for $800. As it stands, this $600 CPU has a hard time justifying its premium over Ryzen 7 1800X, which currently sells for as little as $420. Moving forward, Intel may have to get even more aggressive about winning over enthusiasts. Don't lop off PCIe connectivity. Leave the FMA units intact. Don't nickel-and-dime for storage functionality. Use solder under the IHS. We like the big dies with lots of cores able to clock up when most of them aren't active. But the competition is heating up and Intel is looking a little flat-footed.


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  • cknobman
    Just want to say the Ryzen 7 1800x isnt $500 anymore and has not been for weeks now.

    The processor is selling for $420 or less. Heck I bought mine yesterday from Fry's for $393
    Reply
  • artk2219
    19984543 said:
    Just want to say the Ryzen 7 1800x isnt $500 anymore and has not been for weeks now.

    The processor is selling for $420 or less. Heck I bought mine yesterday from Fry's for $393

    Not to mention the fact that you can find the 1700 for even less, and more than likely be able to bump the clocks to atleast match the 1800x. Microcenter was selling them for 269.99 last week.
    Reply
  • Ne0Wolf7
    At least they've done something, but it still too expensive to sway me.
    Perhaps full blown profesionals who need something a bit better than what Ryzen has right now but can go for an i9 would appreciate this, but even hen he/she/it would probably wait to see what threadripper had to offer.
    Reply
  • Scorpionking20
    So many years past, I can't wrap my head around this. Competition in the CPU space? WTH is this?
    Reply
  • Houston_83
    I think the article has some incorrect information on the first page.

    "However, you do have to tolerate a "mere" 28 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Last generation, Core i7-6850K in roughly the same price range gave you 40 lanes, so we consider the drop to 28 a regression. Granted, AMD only exposes 16 lanes with Ryzen 7, so Intel does end the PCIe comparison ahead."

    Doesn't Ryzen have 24 lanes? Still under intel but I'm pretty sure there's more than 16 lanes.
    Reply
  • artk2219
    19984718 said:
    I think the article has some incorrect information on the first page.

    "However, you do have to tolerate a "mere" 28 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Last generation, Core i7-6850K in roughly the same price range gave you 40 lanes, so we consider the drop to 28 a regression. Granted, AMD only exposes 16 lanes with Ryzen 7, so Intel does end the PCIe comparison ahead."

    Doesn't Ryzen have 24 lanes? Still under intel but I'm pretty sure there's more than 16 lanes.

    Ryzen does have 24 lanes, but only 16 are usable, 8 are dedicated to chipset and storage needs.
    Reply
  • JimmiG
    19984740 said:
    19984718 said:
    I think the article has some incorrect information on the first page.

    "However, you do have to tolerate a "mere" 28 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Last generation, Core i7-6850K in roughly the same price range gave you 40 lanes, so we consider the drop to 28 a regression. Granted, AMD only exposes 16 lanes with Ryzen 7, so Intel does end the PCIe comparison ahead."

    Doesn't Ryzen have 24 lanes? Still under intel but I'm pretty sure there's more than 16 lanes.

    It does, but only 16 are usable, 8 are used for chipset and storage needs.

    16X are available for graphics as 1x16 or 2x8.
    4X dedicated for M.2
    4X for the chipset that's split into 8x PCI-E v2 by the X370 and allocated dynamically IIRC
    Reply
  • Zifm0nster
    Would love to give this a chip a spin.... but availability has been zero.... even a month after release.

    I actually do have work application which can utilize the multi-core.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    does look like intel was caught off guard by amd this time around.

    will take em a couple quarters to figure out what to do. but i'm loving the price/performance amd has brought to the table and know intel will have no choice but to cut prices.

    this is always good for the buyers :D
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    Why we have overclocked cpus ons bench but dont have power compsumation! this review is biased to intel again !? are tomshardware fake news ?
    Reply