New monstrous Intel Ivy Bridge-E Extreme desktop chips set for September launch

If you've already transitioned to a post-PC world, just know that you'll be missing out on the most powerful, blazing fast, crank-it-up-to-11 desktop processor Intel has ever released.

The chip giant unveiled its first lineup of "Ivy Bridge-E" products this week, including the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor, a six-core, 12-threaded monster with 15MB of L3 cache, four channels of DDR3-1866 memory support with an integrated memory controller, 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0 allowing for up to four discrete graphics cards, and a 3.6GHz base clock which revs up to 4.0GHz in Turbo mode.

The star of Intel's new Core i7 LGA-2011 HEDT processor family will be priced at $999 (£640), with two more unlocked, 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge-E chips joining it for a 10 September release date. The other two processors being rolled out next Tuesday are the six-core Core i7 4930K (3.4GHz base clock/3.9Ghz Turbo, 12MB cache) and quad-core Core i7 4820K (3.7GHz/3.9GHz, 10MB cache).

Both of those CPUs also support four DIMMs of DDR3-1866 memory and feature Intel's Hyper-Threading and Smart Cache technologies.

Meanwhile, the power bill you'll rack up with any of Intel's latest, greatest Core i7 parts isn't small potatoes — the TDP for all three new processors is 130 watts. To keep those CPUs running smoothly, there are plenty of performance desktop cooling solutions on the market — Intel is naturally shilling its own sub-$100 Liquid Cooling TS13X system with both fan-circulated air and pump-circulated propylene glycol for the job.

Enthusiasts opting to update their systems with one of the three new processors will also need Intel's updated X79 Express chipset on their LGA-2011 motherboards, the same socket used for the previous generation of "Sandy Bridge-E" parts like the Core i7-3970X.

Luckily, a BIOS flash and some driver updates are all that's required to ready the X79 Express platform for Ivy Bridge-E compatibility, according to Intel. To wit, you'll need to update your firmware to version 8.1.20.1336 or higher and install the latest BIOS/ucode updates. You can also make an optional but recommended move to version 12.7 or higher of the latest Rapid Storage Technology (RST) drivers for a boost in SATA and SATA RAID performance.

Here's a look at the X79 Express chipset diagram, courtesy of Intel:

So what exactly are you getting with the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition, which will be sold as a boxed product through distribution as well as in rigs assembled by Intel's system builder channel?

According to Intel, its "most tunable, capable and downright devastating PC processor ever" provides a five per cent boost in compute-intensive performance over the Core i7-3970X, is seven per cent faster for 3D gaming, and 10 per cent faster for 3D modelling.

The Core i7-4960X offers even more goodies when matched against its fellow Ivy Bridge-generation part, the Core i7-4770K, using about 18 per cent less power for everyday computing and jacking up 3D gaming performance by 36 per cent and 3D modelling performance by 37 per cent.

The Core i7-4960X also features an improved overclocking architecture with some new toys thrown like "real-time core overclocking, power limits, and turbo voltage control," as well as independent voltage control for the chip's cores, memory, and system agent, and more, according to Intel.

At launch, motherboards supporting Ivy Bridge-E processors will be available from Asus, Asrock, ECS, EVGA, Gigabyte, and MSI.