Seemingly out of nowhere the latest iteration of Intel’s Enthusiast CPU lineup has been dropped on us and it brings a number of new technologies along with it, including new processors, new motherboards and DDR4 RAM.
Intel who make the most powerful computer CPU’s on the market for desktop PC’s and laptops actually have two lines of computer chips.
Their ‘mainstream’ line is currently the Haswell series and they come in various flavours such as the i3, i5 and i7. These are all really good processors and are fine for the majority of computer users, we use them in our Pro and Ultra PC’s.
Intel’s most powerful CPU’s though are part of the Enthusiast lineup, these are physically bigger chips, require different motherboards and generally consume more power, in return they ‘can’ offer big performance jumps for certain types of workloads.
All the Haswell E (E stands for Enthusiast) CPUs are called i7’s which is not really helpful to be honest. Intel’s naming convention is confusing, there are currently over 15 different i7 CPU’s on the market right now and all offer different performance (sometimes wildly).
The Main Changes
There are 3 new Haswell – E chips, two 6 core and one 8 core CPU, the first ever Intel 8 core consumer CPU.
There is also a brand new motherboard chipset to support the new processors badged the X99, this means there is no upgrading an existing Ivy Bridge – E system to the new Haswell – E without a motherboard and CPU change.
Finally, perhaps the biggest news of all, Haswell E uses only DDR4 RAM.
RAM (or memory) is a crucial aspect of your computer holding all open programs and files.
DDR3, which is used on the mainstream Haswell systems, has been around for about 7 years now and is widely available and used in pretty much all computers over the past 5 – 6 years, so the move to DDR4 for the new X99 / Haswell E chips is a surprise for some.
DDR4 aims to increase performance levels of your RAM as well as reducing power consumption. Being honest power consumption at this level for one desktop PC is not a massive factor for most people looking for a new computer, the real world savings will be very small.
So, what does the new CPUs, motherboards and faster RAM actually mean in terms of performance?
Generally things are faster, as you’d probably expect, the 8 core chip pretty much trounces anything that is optimised to take advantage of lots of CPU cores, all 3 of the new chips offer increased performance over the models they are replacing.
AnandTech has done a good job of properly benchmarking the chips against the previous generations, you can see their results here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/8426/the-intel-haswell-e-cpu-review-core-i7-5960x-i7-5930k-i7-5820k-tested/5
What I think is worth remembering with these chips, and pretty much all new processors for that matter, is that the improvements over the previous generation and the mainstream lineup is usually only marginal and in specific scenarios.
For example one of the test results shows that the new 5960x CPU can complete one of the tests 17 seconds quicker than the most powerful mainstream i7 chip (4790K), that might seem a lot but realistically how many times each day would you normally be sat waiting for your computer to perform a task like that?
For most users the answer is hardly ever, and even if it was once or twice a week, are those 17 or 34 seconds of savings worth around Ł900 in extra build costs on the computer?
If you are a trader who runs simulations or calculations constantly which stress out a computer then yes it would be worth the extra cost, but for most the extra performance added by these very top end CPU’s would generally be sat around idle for the vast majority of time.
As touched upon above, these new Haswell – E setups do come with an increased price.
The Enthusiast lineup always costs more than the mainstream one however the introduction of DDR4 RAM has made a massive impact of the cost of Haswell E systems, the price of 16GB of DDR4 is 3 x the cost of DDR3.
This price will drop in time, and our prices will drop with them of course.
Our Extreme Lineup
Out of our 3 computer options the Extreme series is the home of the Intel E chips, our base Extreme PC is now shipping with the 6 core 5820K CPU, the 6 core 5930K and the 8 core 5960X chips are both available on the upgrade options as well, simply select them when configuring your PC and we will build them right in for you.
If you have any further questions about the Haswell E chips or anything else multi-screen just let us know.
Written by Darren @ Multiple Monitors
Last Updated: September, 2014