Intel gives gaming desktops a boost with Haswell-E

A new eight-core CPU, plus the X99 chipset, both aim at high-end PC gamers.

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Intel
Much of the talk about upcoming PCs revolves around the next generation of processors from Intel. Codenamed Broadwell, those chips include the next generation of Core i-series CPUs, expected in products next year, and a new line for slim, low-power devices, called Core M, expected in late-2014 products.

But before we get to any of that, Intel's current generation of Haswell CPUs, also known as fourth-generation Core i-series chips, has one more trick up its sleeve. The Haswell-E line is a collection of high-end Core i7 CPUs for desktop computers, including the new Alienware Area 51, also announced today.

Haswell-E is Intel's first eight-core desktop processor (a six-core version will also be available). It pairs with Intel's new X99 motherboard chipset, which supports newer DDR4 RAM and up to four graphics cards.

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Intel
The flagship CPU in the line is the Core i7-5960X, a 3.0GHz eight-core/16-thread chip that can turbo up to 3.5GHz. Also available will be the Core i7-5930K and the Core i7-5820K, both of which are six-core/12-thread chips.

Intel says the performance of the top-end chip over its predecessor, the Core i7-4960X, is up to 20 percent faster at 4K video editing and 32 percent faster in 3D rendering. This is also the first Intel desktop platform that natively supports Thunderbolt 2 connections for fast connectivity and data transfer, especially important with the growth of 4K video.

Most of the major gaming desktop makers are expected to offer Haswell-E systems starting from the end of August, including Maingear, Falcon Northwest, Velocity Micro, and Origin PC. We've already gotten a chance to see one very distinct new system in action, the pyramid-shaped Alienware Area 51. While this new hardware may give the desktop gaming market a boost, we've seen a major shift to gaming laptops in the past year, and high interest in alternative forms of PC gaming, such as Valve's Steam Machine concept.

The new Haswell-E Core i7 CPUs will be available immediately, and cost from $390 to $1,000.

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