For much of the last several years, when you thought of desktop PCs, you generally thought of conformist grey boxes.
Some were thinner than others, some more powerful, some came in gaudy colors, but all felt basically the same.
With the advent of inventive devices like of Microsoft’s Surface Studio, though, that perception has rightly started to shift.
Intel’s latest processor update, focused on on power and flexibility, hopes to advance that renaissance even further—and faster.
That’s no easy task. Moore’s Law has long since faded, with processor gains coming less from traditional means than from clever physics.
But while this year’s Intel desktop lineup doesn’t include a breakthrough on the order of last year’s whopping 18-core, 36-thread behemoths, it does show plenty of improvement, in the places you’d want them most.
That focus, at least in the context of Intel’s Core refresh, centers on three primary areas: gaming, creativity, and commercial-grade hardware.
Those first two are also, incidentally, largely the types of PCs that have driven the market’s recent resurgence, according to Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy.
“I feel like this announcement hits gaming and the creatives, who are doing a lot of video editing. And then obviously on the gaming side, a balanced performance is important..
That balance comes in the form of the new Core i9-9900K, Intel’s first high-volume 5Ghz speed processor, and its first mainstream desktop processor to squeeze in eight cores and 16 threads.
For its new Core lineup more broadly Intel’s claiming performance gains of up to 10 percent more frames per second over last year, and up to 37 percent gains over a three-year-old PC. The new chips are available to order today.
Gaming processor performance increasingly needs to be measured not just in power and speed, but in how well it multitasks.
Gameplay no longer happens in isolation; it gets streamed over Twitch, and edited and uploaded to YouTube.
That’s where those threads come in handy; the more a PC has to work with, the more dedicated tasks it can juggle simultaneously without choking up or slowing down.
Intel has revamped the X-Series as well, once again offering up to 18 cores and 36 threads.
These are strictly for professionals, which the other improvements reflect: up to 68 PCIe lanes, to accommodate multiple video cards and such, and the ability to dedicate the two fastest cores to your most critical workloads. It’ll be available in November.
And then, coming closer to the end of the year, there’s the Xeon W-3175X, a workstation CPU with 28 cores and 56 threads, and speeds up to 4.3 GHz.
In a presentation Monday, Intel claimed that on at least one benchmark, the Xeon W-3175X outperformed everything but multi-processor machines.
The background to all of this, of course, isn’t just the resurgent PC market, but Intel’s place within it.
Rival AMD has become increasingly competitive, Moorhead says, and has taken some marketshare in the very categories Intel has highlighted.
Meanwhile, the PC resurgence continues apace. And while Intel’s latest improvements may not include a blockbuster breakthrough, they do offer high-end performance, specific to your needs, in a relatively reasonable price and package.
It’s the kind of lineup that feels like a strong foundation, for a PC present—and future—that so many had written off years ago.
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