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Intel's affordable hex-core chip could future-proof your PC

Intel's eight-core i7 5960X super chip may have grabbed a lot of headlines for its unprecedented multi-threading capabilities, but as a $1,000 CPU it was effectively irrelevant for most PC gamers. Their significantly cheaper Core i7 5820K , though, is a serious step up in performance from the Devil's Canyon quad-core, and I've just got my hands on it for the first time.

Scan sent me their 3XS X99 Carbon, a £1,830 / $2900 gaming PC, and it's rocking the six-core, twelve-thread 5820K in an overclocked state. You also get a 500GB SSD, 16GB of DDR4 running at 2,666MHz and the excellent EVGA GTX 780 Ti SC edition.

That is still a lot of money for a gaming rig; if you were to build a similar setup yourself you could probably shave a good chunk of cash off that final bill.

The important thing is in this overclocked state the i7 5820K is performing just as quickly as Intel's $1,000 CPU from their last generation of Extreme processors. We're talking about a $300 chip hitting the same level as the most powerful desktop processor on offer just a month or so back.

My Ivy Bridge E i7 4960X is capable of hitting 4.62GHz, but still isn't able to outperform the new six-core chip—which is about a third of the price—when it's operating at 4.25GHz.

In Cinebench R15 they both post index scores of 1,238. Significantly though, while the 4960X is running at 78 degrees C at full CPU load, the 5820K is sauntering along at just 62 degrees C.

This is all very impressive stuff from the first genuinely affordable Intel hex-core CPU, but there are always the multi-core caveats of today's game engines to keep in mind. Right now those extra cores/threads don't make a huge amount of difference when it comes to gaming performance. In most games we're at a stage where we're more GPU-bound than CPU-bound, so extra graphics performance is what we're really after to boost frame rates.

But, given that there isn't much of a price difference between Intel's top Devil's Canyon i7 and this great value hex-core i7, it means you've got something to think about when you're looking to put together a future-proof, high-end gaming rig. Game engines will (hopefully) start to take advantage of multi-threaded processors in the coming years and the i7 5820K will definitely stand you in good stead.