Intel Core i7 7820X Skylake X Review
Let's get the awkward bit out of the way first. Yes we were hoping to bring you a review of both the eight core i7-7820X and the ten core i9-7900X today, but for reasons best known to themselves Intel withheld samples from everyone because a couple of sites broke NDA last time. So we're sans samples and other sites - mentioning no names, let's call them Gexus - broke NDA anyway. If I was Intel's lawyers I'd be expecting some work in the coming days. All of which doesn't overcome the fact that we just have the i7-7820X to show you today.
Despite that it's pretty obvious that Intel has yet another winner on their hands. We'd barely got used to the Core i7-5960X being a monster performer and the i7-6950X appeared. By the time we've just about got settled into the most recent generation of Intel CPUs AMD appear with their Zen architecture and Ryzen CPUs. These really rocked the boat, bringing fabulous performance within the reach of the modestly wealthy and thumbing their nose at Intel's price structure and performance levels.
We've always had the feeling, and we know we're not alone, that Intel could produce something far more powerful if they wanted to. Or perhaps if they have to. The release of Ryzen 7 definitely brought the 'have to' bit to the forefront and now, with the release of the X299 chipset and accompanying i7-7820X processor we can see how much performance is really sitting deep within an Intel R&D department. Although it isn't about whether something is better than the other, in some ways it is, and the new 8-core Intel is definitely better than the 8-core Ryzen 7 in pretty much every test we threw at it. As we say though, we know that those who will buy AMD or Intel will do so almost regardless of reviews, and you certainly wont be upset if you own a Ryzen or even one of the earlier Intel i7s. Just so long as you understand that right now the best possible choice is a i7-7820X an a X299 motherboard.
The additional benefits of the new Turbo Boost technology really shines when the i7-7820X is at stock. Plenty of benchmarks and games only use a couple of cores so having them pushed to around 4.3 GHz has the desired effect in our graph with the stock i7-7820X shining like a beacon, even against some very lofty competition. Overclocking it pushes it even further, and often up to the performance from the 10/20 core thread i7-6950X, which makes us wonder how much further down the road the new i9-7900X will be when we finally get our hands on it. After all, if an 8/16 setup like that on the i7-7820X can push the i7-6950, then the sky is the limit. That's before we even consider the unknown capabilities of their 18 core monster waiting in the wings.
The only negatives are the usual ones that you get when you're cramming so many cores onto a die and then pushing them all heavily - 4.8 GHz in the case of our overclock - namely heat and power draw. There isn't masses of thermal difference between the stock i7-7820X and the overclocked one, but largely because it runs quite warm in stock trim. Where the changes really come are in the power draw, with 90W extra being sipped from the supply by the overclocked system when compared to stock one. It's hardly likely that you'll buy this setup and only grab a 400W PSU and a 120mm tower air cooler though, so the negatives are negligible.
There we have it, the i7-7820X. As fast as you expect it to be, but at £599 not nearly as expensive as Intel might have made it. Award? We're not giving it one. Why? It would be unfair to award a processor we had to source ourselves just so that we had some content live on NDA. We were promised a 4c8t and a 10c20t but apparently all of the (legit Intel) samples are delayed and thats why we have the 8core 7820X, we were trying to make sure we filled in the gaps and brought you the most thorough launch day review we could for all of our readers. At least we didnt break NDA though......
Just as a parting gift, if youve read this far and youve watched the video thank you, if youre here to see if you need to buy the 7820X or for that matter any X299 as the basis for your gaming system we have one thing to say to you. Don't. In the grand scheme of things you either want to go and grab a Z270 /7700K based system or if you want a few more cores for occasional rendering and streaming then just go buy the Ryzen 1700. If you do buy AMD though don't turn into one of the mentalist fanboy keyboard warriors ruining the scene at the moment.