Intel Core i9-10980XE Review 18 Cores of Pure Intel

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Intel Core I9 10980XE Cover
Intel Core I9 10980XE Cover

Today we have the launch of a chip we have been eagerly awaiting since we covered that the new Intel Core i9 platform will have dramatically lower costs. With 18 cores, the Intel Core i9-10980XE has a lot going for it. If you are a creative professional and do not need the memory capacity and ECC RDIMM support of the Intel Xeon W series, then this is Intel’s top offering. While it has a few hundred MHz of extra Turbo headroom and faster DDR4-2933 memory support, the biggest new feature is the price. It is essentially half the cost of the $2000 Core i9-9980XE launched about a year ago. In this review, we are going to show what Intel’s latest high-end chip has to offer.

Key stats for the Intel Core i9-10980XE: 18 cores / 36 threads with a 3.0GHz base clock and 4.6GHz turbo boost. There is 24.75MB of onboard cache. The CPU features a 165W TDP. These are $979 list price parts.

Here is what the lscpu output looks like for an Intel Core i9-10980XE:

Intel Core I9 10980XE Lscpu Output
Intel Core I9 10980XE Lscpu Output

Despite the 14nm supply shortage, Intel is essentially cutting the price of this chip in half. There are other features as well. With the updated generation, one gets Intel DL Boost (VNNI) which will be more important in the future. Intel is pushing DL Boost in its server, desktop, and mobile processors to enable user experience AI across its portfolio. For example, developers can utilize VNNI to speed up inferencing workloads such as facial recognition and language processing. While DL Boost may not be the most used feature today, in 2-3 years, or within the lifecycle of many Core i9-10980XE workstations, it will be important.

The reason Intel is lowering prices by half in a year is competition. AMD Ryzen 9 parts scale to 16 cores for the mainstream market at $749. Moving to the higher-end the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X offers more cores (24), PCIe Gen4 with more lanes at a $1399. For many professional users, PCIe Gen4 is great, but the mainstream Ryzen 9 3950X simply does not have enough PCIe lanes, nor memory channels. The Intel Core i9-10980XE adds PCIe lanes and DDR4 memory channels at a lower price than AMD Ryzen Threadripper series. Add to this overclocking capabilities, and the Core i9-10980XE can offer quite a bit.

On the platform side, the Intel Core i9-10980XE launches into a relatively mature X299 ecosystem. The nice aspect of this is that drivers are already upstreamed in virtually every major OS and so the out-of-box experience is relatively great.

Intel X299 Chipset
Intel X299 Chipset

As we get into our review, we did something ambitious. We ran these chips in both our Windows and Linux benchmark suites to get numbers for both sides.

Test Configuration

Here is the test configuration we used for the Intel Core i9-10980XE:

• Motherboard: EVGA X299 Dark Motherboard
• CPU: Intel Core i9-10980XE 3.0GHz (18 core/36 thread)
• GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER
• Cooling: Noctua NH-U9DX-i4
• RAM: 4x Crucial 16GB DDR4-2933 UDIMM Low Profile (64GB Total)
• SSD: Samsung PM961 1TB
• OS: Windows 10 Pro Workstation

EVGA X299 Dark Angle View
EVGA X299 Dark Angle View

For our CPU we will be using an Intel Core i9-10980XE 3.0GHz (18 core/36 thread.)

EVGA X299 Dark CPUz
EVGA X299 Dark CPUz

Note here that the Name field shows the i9 9980XE, a similar but prior generation part while the Specification line has the i9-10980XE model name.

The Intel Core i9-10980XE is a very capable CPU, the base speed is 3.0GHz but can Turbo up to 4.6GHz. One can also overclock the CPU to even higher levels although there is not as much headroom as we saw in chips from a decade ago. Vendors like Intel are better at die binning these days.

Let us continue with Windows performance testing.

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