At Computex Taipei today, Intel is introducing its new range of Extreme Edition processors, with the crowning jewel being the company's first 10-core CPU for consumers, the $1,723 Core i7-6950X. For that eye-watering price, you get a 3GHz powerhouse capable of running 20 simultaneous work threads and also achieving a turbo boost speed of 3.5GHz. Intel's answer to the inevitable question of what anyone would want to do with all that might is the new concept of mega-tasking.
The primary scenario envisioned by Intel is of a gamer playing at 4K resolution while also encoding a recording of his or her match and streaming at 1080p on Twitch at the same time. The extra processor cores make this new EE chip the new champion for handling CPU-intensive tasks running in parallel. Intel has more stats to wow professional users with, such as up to 35 percent faster performance in 3D rendering, 25 percent faster video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, and 20 percent faster video transcoding in HandBrake relative to the previous flagship Core i7-5960X.
Codenamed Broadwell-E, Intel's new family of processors is obviously not limited to the spectacularly niche i7-6950X. For a more reasonable $1,089, you can get the Core i7-6900K, running eight cores at 3.2GHz. Going further down the price range, there are the six-core Core i7-6850K — running at 3.6GHz and costing $617 — and Core i7-6800K — which is just slightly behind at 3.4GHz, but is the most attainable of the bunch at $434.
It's not easy to sell high-performance processors for the desktop these days, owing to a combination of speed improvements slowing down and the generally high quality of chips already out on the market. Instead of growing shy about it, however, Intel has decided to become more aggressive with its new flagship Extreme Edition truly living up to its name (in price if nothing else). The chipmaker is also treating its loyal customers nicely by maintaining compatibility between the new Broadwell-E generation and the X99 chipset that supports the current Haswell-E chips. That means you'll be able to keep the same motherboard and just upgrade the CPU by itself.
All of Intel's new processors come unlocked and primed for overclocking and user tuning, and all of them support quad-channel memory. Intel says that its new processors should be available to buy imminently, so if you're in the market to build a truly over the top VR gaming rig, or if you do actually find yourself mega-tasking quite often, these should be high on your list to consider.