Broadwell or Skylake? For enthusiasts, it's quite a complicated choice.

For the first time in a long time, Intel is releasing two processor families within just months of each other. Yes, it's an unusual tick-tock year for CPUs in 2015, and the latest of these so far is Broadwell-E processors.

In a "tick" release, the current architecture used in a processor is basically copied, but at the same time, is made using a more advanced manufacturing process. Called a "die shrink", the CPU is physically smaller, which allows for less power consumption while still using the same clock frequency. In short, these processors in a "tick" launch should be more power efficient and cooler than previous generations. This is Broadwell.

The "tock" following Broadwell's "tick" release is Skylake. Using the same 14 nm manufacturing process as Broadwell, Skylake's microarchitecture will incorporate an all-new design that is expected to improve upon the performance and efficiency of Broadwell. Between the Broadwell and Skylake, technically, Skylake is supposed to be better as it improves on Broadwell's design whilst still using the same manufacturing process.

Regardless of the industry's tick-tock timing, Intel's upcoming Broadwell-E launch as the company's next generation high-end desktop chip might have enthusiasts finally picking a side this year.

In the Broadwell-E HEDT (High-End Desktop) lineup, there are four new processors of which the Core i7-6950X is the flagship. This beast of an SKU rocks 10 cores and 20 threads with a very sizeable 25 MB of L3 cache. Compatible with current x99 motherboards, the only caveat to the Core i7-6950 is its clockspeed, which will run at just 3.0 Ghz.

Based on clockspeed numbers alone, the flagship Broadwell-E chipset could trail behind the Skylake-based Core i7-6700K equipped with four cores clocking up to 4.2 GHz in Turbo. Nonetheless, the Broadwell Core i7-6950X impresses mightily enough — thanks to Hyper-Threading, enthusiasts could have 20 x 3.0 Ghz processors in their PCs.

The remaining processors under the flagship i7-6950X are the Core i7-6800K with an eight-core chip, 16 threads, and 20 MB of L3 cache clocked at 3.30 GHz. Below that are the Core i7-6850K clocked at 3.60 Ghz and i7-6800K running at 3.40 Ghz ,while both feature six-core CPUs, 12 virtual threads, and 15 MB of L3 cache.

Photo: Steve Jurvetson | Flickr 

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