Intel Core i7-6850K (Broadwell-E) ReviewManufacturer: Intel
UK price (as reviewed): £575.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $609.99 (ex Tax)
As nice as a 10-core desktop CPU would be, the Core i7-6950X
remains well out of reach for many of us given its price tag of over £1,600. Of course, if you truly need those extra cores or the reduced processing time they'd offer for tasks such as rendering or editing means you could potentially be saving money, then it's worth considering.
However, even the Core i7-6900K isn't exactly affordable at over £1,100 currently in the UK so if you're mainly looking to build a multi-GPU system with some swanky super-fast storage, but don't need those extra cores, then there is another option.
The Core i7-6850K costs half the price of the Core i7-6900K and a third of what the Core i7-6950X demands, yet it has the full complement of 40 PCI-E lanes at its disposal which can offer advantages in bandwidth not just in multi-GPU scenarios but with certain configurations of next-gen storage too.
Of course, you could argue that if you have enough money for two GTX 1080s, then what's another £1,000 to jump up to the flagship 10-Core? Well, there's likely not a lot of point doing so if you just need two PCI-E slots with the full x16/x16 bandwidth arrangement and you won't see any significant improvement in gaming performance by moving from six cores to 10 either.
|Intel CPU||Base Clock||Turbo Freq||Cores/Threads||Cache||PCI-E 3.0 Lanes||TDP||Price|
|Core i7-6950X||3GHz||3.5GHz||10/20||25MB||40||140W||$1660/ £1700|
|Core i7-6900K||3.2GHz||3.7GHz||8/16||20MB||40||140W||$1099 £1150|
|Core i7-6850K||3.6GHz||3.8GHz||6/12||15MB||40||140W||$649 / £575|
|Core i7-6800K||3.4GHz||3.6GHz||6/12||15MB||28||140W||$439/ £409|
Willy-waving aside, for these reasons the Core i7-6850K shouldn't be overlooked, although neither should a Core i7-6700K, which, if you're desperate for dual x16 slot performance, could be paired with a motherboard that sports a PLX chip. However, we digress - today we're looking at the cheapest way to get a 40-lane CPU in Intel's new Broadwell-E lineup.
For starters, the initial RRPs of Intel's entire lineup don't quite reflect those of current retail prices so in the table above you can now see the latest prices correct as of July. In the UK you'll be particularly worse off if you opt for the 8 or 10-core options here, but the Core i7-6850K is less than half the price of the Core i7-6900K.
As you can see in the specifications, apart from a two core/four thread deficit, there's also a 5MB drop in L3 cache compared to the Core i7-6900K, but the Core i7-6850K has the advantage when it comes to clock speed with a noticeably higher baseclock and a smaller benefit in terms of turbo frequency.
You still get all the benefits of Broadwell-E, though, with a 14nm manufacturing process and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 support - you can read more about these in our original Broadwell-E review