Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

Whether the Core i9-7960X was always part of Intel's plans for the high end desktop (HEDT), or whether it was haphazardly rushed to market to combat AMD's bullish Threadripper platform, one thing is clear: Intel once again has the fastest slice of silicon on the market. With 16 cores and 32 threads, matching AMD's flagship Threadripper 1950X, the i9-7960X is an unashamedly over-the-top processor that breaks benchmarking records, and powers through heavy production tasks.

But a processor is more than its raw number crunching prowess. Threadripper raised the bar for HEDT with the rich, consumer-friendly X399 platform, which offers a full set of features without spurious lockouts. More importantly, AMD doesn't charge through the nose for it. The Threadripper 1950X features 16C/32T and costs £950/$1000. Intel's Core i9-7900X offers just 10C/20T for the same price. With the exception of gaming, the 1950X is a much more powerful processor.

Unfortunately, despite the strong competition, Intel isn't yet willing to compete on price. The i9-7960X costs a whopping $1700/£1700—and while it might be faster, it certainly isn't £700 faster. That's not to mention that Intel continues to use a weak thermal material to mount its CPU heat spreaders, instead of the superior solder that AMD uses. It makes the i9-7960X a bear of a chip to overclock and noisy at stock without suffering serious thermal issues.

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