Have you been putting off building a new hardcore gaming PC? Well, wait no more. Intel has two new processors, aimed at hardcore overclockers and the gaming super-elite, for you to drool over, and they're out right now.
If you can accept nothing but the very best, then you'll want the new flagship Core i7-6700K is a 4.0GHz monster, boosting to 4.2GHz under load across its four cores and eight threads, with a massive 8MB of L3 cache. There's a new top i5, too, the familiarly named Core i5-6600K (anyone else remember the Q6600 overclocking powerhouse?) at 3.5-3.9GHz and 6MB of cache. That K suffix means they're entirely unlocked for overclockers to mess around with multiplers and clock speeds, which is a Very Good Thing for enthusiasts.
As debuted on earlier Intel chips like Core M, the new sixth-gen CPUs are sliced together on the company's now mature 14-nanometre production process. A new socket — LGA1151, one pin difference from the fifth generation Cores — means that you'll need a new motherboard to support this new generation, but you don't necessarily have to buy these two top of the line chips. There are plenty more new CPUs on the way in the sixth generation of Intel's Core, but at least for a few weeks — maybe until the Intel Developer Forum in the middle of this month — you'll have to be content with these high-end variants.
These new Intel CPUs are much improved for overclocking, with full-range base clock overclocking, as well as unlocked multipliers; this all comes from some internal adjustment like Intel abandoning its Fully Internal Voltage Regulator, a source of frustration for serious clockers, for an external motherboard-based solution. Maximum speeds from the best chips skyrocket as a result — I've seen a real-world example of the new i7 hitting 5.1GHz on basic water cooling. Memory overclocking has been radically overclocked, too, to the point that we've seen hugely boosted results versus last generation processors on Z97 and X99 platforms.
The new chips, along with the debuting 1151-pin socket Intel Z170 chipset — a new consumer performance model, taking over from the Z97 — support both DDR4-2133 and DDR3-1600 RAM, although it's likely that performance boards on LGA1151 will almost all use DDR4 for its advantages in lower voltages and higher clock speeds. You might find DDR3 on a low-end board, but expect to buy some new RAM as well. (Why not throw in a new Intel 750 Series SSD, just because?)
We've seen an entire line-up of new Asus boards using Z170, and those run the entire gamut from super-premium to modest. There's a new Maximus VIII Extreme, Hero, Gene, Impact and Ranger in the ROG line-up, as well as Pro Gaming and Asus Signature models, with a whole bunch of fancy tech integrated as you move up the range. Z170 also enables a bunch of new PCI-Express lanes which mean PCs We'll get into more detail on those and Z170 itself in a post tomorrow, so stay tuned.
You'll pay a little more than last generation's chips for the privilege of having a brand new, top of the line processor — Intel partner distributor Synnex has the i5-6600K for $399 and the i7-6700K for $579, a small price premium over last generation's i7-4790K at $499 and i5-4690K at $349. Internationally, the i5 and i7 are priced at US$243 and US$350 respectively.
They're even in new boxes, much fancier than the old blue windowed kits you used to buy. Prices will vary between different distributors, of course, and we've seen i7-6700Ks popping up around the $539 mark and i5-6600Ks for around $369 already. The new sixth-generation Intel overclockers' chips are out now. [Intel]