Intel Broadwell E: What You Need to Know

Another year, another new set of powerful Intel processors. Broadwell E represents the latest family of Intel CPUs, sporting more cores and support for super-speedy RAM. If you're wondering just exactly how the nuts and bolts of Intel's new processors will make the next generation of PCs perform even better, here's everything you need to know.

What is Broadwell E?

"Broadwell" is a codename for a special variant of Intel processors, which are designed to be smaller and more efficient than the company's Haswell CPUs. These CPUs can be found in a host of modern CPUs for both mainstream and professional use.

Broadwell "E" is the latest evolution of this CPU series, sporting up to 10 cores (a first for an Intel desktop processor) and Intel's new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, which speeds up your processor when your workload gets heavy.

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What are the new processors? What's special about them?

Intel has released four new CPUs to herald Broadwell E: The 6-core i7-6800K and i7-6850K, the 8-core Intel Core i7-6900K and the 10-core i7-6950X.

The i7-6950X is the real star of the show, as it marks Intel's first-ever 10-core desktop CPU. According to Intel, this means up to 35-percent faster multi-thread performance over the chip maker's previous series of processors. The CPU also features 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes and 4-channel DDR4-2400 memory support, which allow for a whole bunch of speedy storage options.

While Broadwell E chips don't sport integrated graphics, they do allow for up to four discrete graphics cards, which is ideal for those looking to build an insane VR-ready gaming rig or do lots of 4K video editing. The new processors also support Thunderbolt 3.0, a speedy USB-C connection that allows for insanely fast device charging; you can also use Thunderbolt to connect your PC to fast storage drives and hi-res displays.

How much do the new processors cost?

All of this power doesn't come cheap. The Core i7-6950X costs a whopping $1,723 — that same amount of money could get you a fully-built (and fairly powerful) gaming PC. The 8-core i7-6900K is priced at $1,089, and the 6-core i7-6850K and i7-6800K will cost $617 and $434, respectively.

Is Broadwell E worth it?

Broadwell E test results have been pretty positive so far, though the new chips are clearly not for the average user. Our sister site Tom's Hardware calls Intel's latest CPUs "the fastest available," while also calling into question the need for a 10-core processor at such a high price. Our friends at Anandtech had similar thoughts on the new processor series, noting that "it would be hard to see the value of investing in Broadwell-E unless peak performance is required at any cost." We plan on putting Intel's new chips through their paces ourselves, so stay tuned for results.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.