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

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Intel Core i9-10980XE Power Consumption

Power consumption can vary a significant amount depending on processors used and the number of HDDs/ SSDs/ expansion cards used. Here we test just a primary system. We test with the same graphics card and NVMe SSD in all our tests. Power is measured at the wall and the graphics card and SSD were not stress tested. For our tests, we use the AIDA64 Stress test which allows us to stress all aspects of the system.

Intel Core I9 10980XE Power Consumption
Intel Core I9 10980XE Power Consumption

This was a surprising result. One would think that the Core i9-10980XE at 165W TDP would use less power than the 280W TDP Threadripper parts. At idle, the Core i9-10980XE performed extremely well. Under load, it was using power almost in-line with our Intel Xeon W-3275 testbed. Many will never hit these numbers, and desktops often sit closer to idle. Still, a very surprising result here.

Intel Core i9-10980XE Market Positioning

Thes chips are not released in a vacuum instead, they have competition on both the Intel and AMD sides. When you purchase a server and select a CPU, it is important to see the value of a platform versus its competitors.

Intel Core i9-10980XE v. Intel Alternatives

If you do not need much by way of expansion, memory, or cores, chips like the Core i9-9900K(S) are better options. If you are shopping in the Core i9-10980XE range, you are in a different class of system.

After the benchmarking session, perhaps the most intriguing comparison is the Intel Xeon W-3275, Intel’s halo workstation product. The Intel Xeon W-3275 gets up to 64x PCIe Gen3 lanes, more memory channels, ECC, and more memory channels alongside 28 cores. Still that is an enormous premium for a ~$1000 Core i9-10980XE to a ~$4450 Xeon W-3275.

When looking at older dual Xeon E5 workstations, many will find the new Core i9-10980XE to be an upgrade in CPU performance despite being a signle-socket CPU. There are going to be those who prefer dual Intel Xeon Gold or Platinum workstations for the greater platform capabilities, but again, the Core i9-10980XE offers a lot of performance per dollar.

Intel Core i9-10980XE v. AMD Alternatives

The Intel Core i9-10980XE is launching the same day as the 3rd generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper platform. With the original embargo times, they were set to launch at the same time. We are publishing the Threadripper benchmarks at the same time because these systems are going to compete in the market.

The Intel Core i9-10980XE is fascinating from a competitive perspective. Intel’s pricing is so aggressive that it falls well below the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X. If it was a $100-200 delta, it would be less notable. With the $400+ system price delta, we think this is effectively a different segment.

For those that want PCIe Gen4 today, or want more PCIe lanes, or who simply need more cores, the 3rd generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper is the way to go. If you do not, then the Core i9-10980XE operates in a segment of the market directly between the $749 Ryzen 9 3950X and the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X.

Final Words

Let us get practical for a moment. There are segments of the market that heavily rely upon Intel’s features such as AVX-512 or VNNI (DL Boost) for software. There are pieces of software that will only be certified on Intel CPUs. For some people, AMD is simply not an option. If it is, and one needs less expansion/ memory, the Ryzen 3950X is a very strong option. If one needs more expansion/ memory/ cores, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X / Threadripper 3960X is a strong option. If PCIe Gen4 devices were everywhere, that would be a stronger benefit in AMD’s favor, but most devices are still Gen3 so lane counts are still extremely important.

When we focus on the Intel world, the Core i9-10980XE should make every workstation buyer pause and think. While we really like the Intel Xeon W-3275, a $3500 premium, plus a bit more for the platform, is difficult to justify if the Core i9-10980XE is enough CPU for an application. There are many workstation buyers that are going to find the Core i9-10980XE perfect for their applications.

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