Intel’s Core i9 processor is what happens when Intel begins to worry that it might not have the baddest chip on the block. And if you’re desperate to know how it performs against AMD’s Threadripper, you’ll want to read up on the latest details on Core i9 speeds—including for the 18-core Core i9-7980XE.
Read on for the speeds, feeds, and prices of the new Core i9 chips, and all the details we have on the underlying technologies. In addition to the new Core i9 specs, we now know how the Core i9 performs as part of our review, and the price and availability of X299 motherboards. We’ll update this post with new information and testing as we receive it.
Most likely to steal some attention away from the eagerly awaited AMD Threadripper reviews due soon, Intel filled in the remaining gaps on its spec sheet in early August. The company revealed the clock speeds, TDP power estimates, and ship dates for its four most powerful Core i9 chips: the 12-core Core i9-7920X, the 14-core Core i9-7940X, the 16-core Core i9-7960X, and the 18-core Core i9-7980XE. The 12-core Core i9-7920X launches August 28, while the 14-, 16-, and 18-core Core i9 chips ship on September 25.
That’s slightly earlier than expected, as Intel had previously listed October as the ship date for the 18-core Core i9-7980XE.
Basic specs: Clock speed, core count, prices, ship date, power
The processor specs that matter most concern performance. The raw clock speed determines how fast any one thread can be acted upon, while the core and thread counts control how many threads or tasks can be calculated in parallel. The Core i9 series excels in these metrics. But you’ll pay a hefty premium for that talent.
Finally, Intel has announced all of the clock speeds of the Core i9 family. They’re all unlocked, too—ready and waiting to be overclocked. Here’s a summary of the core counts and prices of the Core i9 chips we do know, including clock speeds where available.
Core i9 Extreme Edition:
- Core i9-7980XE: (2.6GHz, 4.4GHz burst) 18 cores/36 threads, $1,999
- Core i9-7960X: (2.8GHz, 4.4GHz burst) 16 cores/32 threads, $1,699
- Core i9-7940X: (3.1GHz, 4.4GHz burst) 14 cores/28 threads, $1,399
- Core i9-7920X: (3.1GHz, 4.4GHz burst) 12 cores/24 threads, $1,199
- Core i9-7900X: (3.3GHz, 4.5GHz burst) 10 cores/20 threads, $999
- Core i7 7820X (3.6GHz, 4.5GHz burst), 8 cores/16 threads, $599
- Core i7-7800X (3.5GHz, 4.0GHz burst), 6 cores/12 threads, $389
- Core i7-7740X (4.3GHz, 4.5GHz burst), 4 cores/8 threads, $339
- Core i5-7640X (4.0GHz, 4.2GHz burst), 4 cores, 4 threads, $242
You were able to preorder the Core i7 X-series chips and the 10-core Core i9 7900X the week of June 20. The 12-core Core i9-7920X ships August 28 while the 14-, 16-, and 18-core Core i9 chips ship on September 25.
The new chips will consume 112W or 140W (depending on the chip), requiring a liquid-cooling solution. Intel has said there will be a 165W chip, too, but waited until early August to reveal it—or them, as it turns out. Intel will have three 165-watt chips: the i9-7980XE, the i9-7960X, and the i9-7940X.
More importantly, they’ll all use a new Socket R4, a 2,066-pin LGA socket that will require a brand-new motherboard. Intel’s Core i9 family is not backward-compatible with existing Skylake or Kaby Lake motherboards.
Frequently asked questions
What is Core i9?
On May 30 at Computex, Intel formally announced the Core i9 high-end chips for PC enthusiasts. At the high end, it’s quite simple: The Core i9 family consists of what’s known as the Skylake-X architecture, with processors that include 10, 12, 14, and 16 cores.
From there, it becomes a bit complicated. For some reason, Intel decided that the 8-core and 6-core Skylake-X chips aren’t worthy enough, so they carry the Core i7 name. They share some common architectural features with the “true” Core i9 chips, though, so we’ve included them. The same goes for a second family of chips, known as Kaby Lake-X—basically the same seventh-generation CPUs you’ve seen on laptops and desktops for more than a year, but that also connect to the same X299 chipset as the Skylake-X chips do. The two Kaby Lake-X chips will be quad-core only parts.
Colloquially, you may also see these chips referred to as the Skylake-X family, the X-series of chips, or by their code name, “Basin Falls.”
When can I get Core i9?
Preorders for the Core i7 X-series chips and the 10-core Core i9 7900X began the week of June 20. The 12-core Core i9-7920X launches Aug. 28 while the 14-, 16-, and 18-core Core i9 chips ship on Sept. 25.
Who should buy Core i9?
As you might guess from the prices, these chips aren’t for everyone. You don’t remotely need 18 cores and 36 threads unless you’re doing resource-intensive multitasking, such as video or gaming.
How much will Core i9 cost?
The least-expensive Core i9 chip will be the Core i5-7640X, at $242. The Core i7 chips will range from $339 to $599. The Core i9 chips will be priced from $999 to $1699. The most expensive will be the Extreme Edition (Core i9-7980XE) for $1,999.
Where does Core i9 fit into the Intel Core family?
Core i9 is Intel’s fifth PC processor family, starting with the Core m and moving up through the traditional Core i3, i5, and i7 chips to Core i9. As the numerical sequencing suggests, Core i9 represents Intel’s most prestigious chip family, offering the best performance at the highest price.
It’s not exactly clear what makes a chip a Core i9. The lowest-end Core i9-7900X, for example, shares the same amount of cores as the previous 10-core Core i7-6950X. Still, if you are looking to buy or build today and want the fastest Intel has to offer, Core i9 is probably the easiest way to tell.
How does Core i9 relate to Broadwell-E?
Core i9 succeeds Broadwell-E as Intel’s supreme, enthusiast desktop chip family.
At the top of the heap sits Core i9 Extreme Edition, part of the Core i9 family, but a supercharged subset of its own. Right now, it’s just a single chip: the Core i9 Extreme Edition i9-7980XE.
Will I need a new motherboard for Core i9?
Yes. All Core i9 CPUs will use a new Socket R4, a 2,066-pin LGA socket that will require a brand-new motherboard. Intel’s Core i9 family is not backward-compatible with existing Skylake or Kaby Lake motherboards.
Although this is only one shoe to drop, Core i9 is finally here and it’s a doozy. Faster and cheaper than Intel’s previous 10-core chip, our review of the 10-core Core i9-7900X is ready. We recommend you read it before you plunk down your hard earned cash. In short, however, this is basically Intel’s fastest consumer CPU to date.
The Full Nerd team discusses what the Core i9 could mean for you, especially with Threadripper also coming down the pike:
You can get a taste of Core i9’s innovations in this video. Stay tuned for our review video after we have a chance to test the chip.
Here’s Intel’s PC chip chief, Gregory Bryant, announcing the Core i9 preorders:
New features: Why you’ll want to buy a Core i9
In addition to just the raw performance, the Core i9 family includes something new.