Intel Xeon E-2146G Benchmarks and Review Our Top Pick

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Intel Xeon E-2146G Power Consumption

We wanted to post a few figures from our testing that show the real selling point of the chips, low power.

Idle is around 32W and maximum power consumption hits just under 109W in our test bed. The solid part about the Intel Xeon E-2146G is that it is able to power machines at under 1A in 110V or 120V racks. Remember, TDP does not equal power consumption.

Note these results were taken using a 208V Schneider Electric / APC PDU at 17.7C and 72% RH. Our testing window shown here had a +/- 0.3C and +/- 2% RH variance. We also tested on 120V power to ensure that the system could stay in under that low-cost hosting power threshold.

Intel Xeon E-2146G 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 Xeon E-2176G v. Intel Alternatives

At under $362, the Intel Xeon E-2176G provides a lot of compute performance. Six cores are a major upgrade over 6-7 generations of Intel Xeon CPUs in this segment which all were four cores. You can read STH’s Looking back at Intel Xeon E3-1200 V1-V6 to the New Xeon E-2100 for the history from 2009/2011 to 2018 in the segment.

The Intel Xeon D-2100 series still has some major advantages. The Intel Xeon D-2100 series can utilize higher capacity RDIMMs, has more memory bandwidth, and has 10GbE NICs built-in. It is hard to discount that value. The same comparison would likely apply to the Intel Xeon Scalable family where one gets more clock speed with the Intel Xeon E-2146G but misses on the platform benefits.

Compared to the Intel Atom C3000 series, the Intel Xeon E-2146G does not have all of the same platform features but is much faster in single-threaded workloads. The larger and more robust compute cores (as seen in our GROMACS test for example), and higher frequencies make this an option for low-cost low power 1U servers.

The decision tree branch that will lead you to the Intel Xeon E-2146G over Atom and Intel Xeon D siblings is the Intel iGPU. The iGPU is not the focus of our CPU benchmark suite, but it includes transcoding hardware support that may be of interest to some deployments with supporting software. One can use BMC graphics for day-to-day management and offload transcoding to dedicated hardware logic not present in mainstream Intel Xeon CPUs outside of the Xeon E-2100 line. If your application can utilize video features or even transcoding offload for Quick Sync video, then the Intel Xeon E-2146G is the option to choose.

We recommend the Intel Xeon E-2146G over the Intel Xeon E-2136 because it has both slightly higher clock speeds as well as the iGPU for around $27 more. That $27 may sound like a 10% premium if you look at the CPU cost only, but in the context of the system, it is likely well under 3%. For that minor cost upgrade, the higher clocks and iGPU give the platform more versatility.

Intel Xeon E-2146G v. AMD EPYC

At the time of this writing, AMD EPYC does not have a real competitor to the Intel Xeon E-2146G for servers. One can use an AMD Ryzen but until we see platforms like the Tyan Tomcat EX S8015 hit the market, and from multiple vendors, AMD’s excellent compute performance with Ryzen 2 is lost by not having platforms with features like IPMI. If someone wanted to use a consumer platform without management, then Ryzen is an option, but the market for that is very small. A year and a half into the Ryzen adventure, the ecosystem is still not picking up the slack.

Comparing the Intel Xeon E-2146G to the AMD EPYC 7001 series, such as an AMD EPYC 7251 may lead you to think the Intel Xeon E-2146G is a clear winner. What that limited view begets is a view only looking at CPU performance. Even the AMD EPYC 7251 as up to 128x PCIe lanes and can handle 16 DDR4-2400 RDIMMs per CPU, so it can handle higher-end use cases.

Final Words

We think that the Intel Xeon E-2146G is the CPU to get in the 6-core Coffee Lake Xeon E-2100 series. It has all of the features present in the range, including the iGPU. It also has high clock speeds and 6-cores. If you are a web hosting provider looking to upgrade your dedicated server nodes, this is where we would buy into the stack. Looking at smaller edge server deployments, the integrated iGPU for digital signage or transcoding are a huge benefit to the platform. One thing is clear: this is the biggest generational leap we have seen in the segment for almost a decade.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Sinclair this is really different right? Tom’s now recommends stuff because it’s new before they test it. The GTX 1080 Ti or RTX 2080 are better buys than the 2080 Ti but Tom’s said to go buy it without testing.

    Here they’re giving an opinion, but they’ve got power and performance data for other chips in this family as well as other families from AMD and Intel.

    People have been giving up on Tom’s credibility because they’re recommending without data or work. This is a recommendation where they’ve gotten a big test data set and used that to inform a recommendation.

    I think there are reasons to go with the E-2176G and E-2186G but they’ve got a point showing why you’re paying more for a small increase in performance.

  2. I would love to buy one of these, but can’t find them in stock anywhere. Same with boards in a mATX and mITX format.

  3. There is pretty much no use case where the Intel “Xeon” E-2000 series makes sense. If you do signage or edge transcoding (as I do in every day life) the X11SCA-F and other C246/C242 motherboard also support the i3 series CPUs which will offer all the same features or the i5 (and now also the i9 series) which trade ECC support for higher clocks. Given that transcoding use cases are not prone to memory errors or corruption this is an instant 50% cost saving on the CPU for equal performance.

    If you care about ECC changes are you care about memory intensive applications, in which case Xeon D for Edge compute, Xeon W for workstation or Xeon Scalable make sense. Xeon E-2000 is an artifical product segment that has no right to exist, were it not that Ryzen motherboards with BMC are non-existent. I would not be surprised if at a later date it will come to light that Intel pressured partners into prioritizing C242/C246 lines by providing incentives.

  4. David that’s silly. They’ve been selling these for years. There’s even a link in this article to the history of them. If you’re selling dedicated hosting servers, the E3 and now E-2100 are way cheaper than anything else.

  5. Tony historically they had features that set them apart from the consumer chips (like ECC,HyperThreading or thermal tolerances) which is no longer the case.

    Right now it’s difficult to argue to buy the same chip with a different name but at a 25-30% premium.

  6. There is a definite market for this in the homelab market, although we all know how niche that is. Ideally we all want something that can support things like FreeNAS, Unraid, etc., but also utilize the iGPU to offload transcoding, and to typically do it in a small package. That doesn’t leave many options. This is one of them.

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