Intel Core i9-10980XE Review: 18-Core Cascade Lake-X Battles AMD [Updated]

Intel Core i9-10980XE - Our Summary And Final Thoughts

Performance Summary: The new Intel Core i9-10980XE performed relatively well throughout our battery of tests, and while it is technically an across-the-board upgrade over the Core i9-9980XE, there are some caveats. The Core i9-10980XE’s updated Turbo Boost 3 algo, that now allows two cores to achieve maximum boost, in addition to its higher peak frequencies, makes the Core i9-10980XE Intel’s fastest HEDT processor for single and lightly-threaded workloads. It’s still not quite as fast as the higher-clocked Coffee Lake refresh chips in this regard, but it had a clear edge over the Core i9-9980XE. The Core i9-10980XE also technically offered better multi-threaded performance than the Core i9-9980XE, but the deltas separating the two chips in those tests were much smaller. Peak power consumption was also better than the Core i9-9980XE, which was somewhat of a surprise.

The Core i9-10980XE, however, couldn’t quite catch the more affordable and more power-friendly AMD Ryzen 9 3950X in a few multi-threaded tests, and we can’t forget that next-generation Threadrippers will be here shortly as well. In fact, they’re launching a few hours after this article will be published. Intel’s earlier embargo lift prevents us from showing you Threadripper 3000-series benchmark scores just yet, but they are coming soon, so stay tuned. (Update: 11/25 -- This article has been updated with 3rd Gen Threadripper 3000 series performance results.)

Ultimately, Intel has done a commendable job updating its HEDT line-up, without the benefits of a new CPU core microarchitecture or new manufacturing process. The company has been pushing the limits of its 14nm node for a while now, but by selectively binning these chips, tweaking the frequency and voltage curves, optimizing the boost algorithm to speed up lightly threaded workloads, and integrating DL Boost (which will pay dividends in the future), Chipzilla was able to produce a processor that’s better than its predecessor in most metrics. And to top it off, more aggressive pricing means the Core i9-10980XE offers vastly better performance-per-dollar then the Core i9-9980XE.

That said, the ongoing threat from AMD is very different today than it was when the Core i9-9980XE launched. And Team Ryzen is about to drop a jaw-droppingly powerful upgrade in the Threadripper 3000 series. In this round of the HEDT war, however, Intel’s top-end part is actually the more affordable option. Whether or not that cost savings is enough to sway enthusiasts opinions in Intel’s favor remains to be seen, but it sure has been fun to watch these two companies duke it out the last couple of years. We’re eager to see how the high-end, enthusiast computing landscape will be reshaped in the months ahead.

 hot  not
  • Powerful Multi-Threaded Beast
  • More Aggressive Pricing
  • Better Single And Lightly Threaded Perf
  • Somewhat Lower Power Than Core i9-9980XE
  • Works In Existing X299 Motherboards
  • DL Boost Integration
  • Faster Memory Support 
  • Mild MT Upgrade Over Core i9-9980XE
  • Still 14nm 
  • Essentially The Same CPU Cores As 7th Gen HEDT Processors
  • Threadripper 3000 Dropping In A Few Hours

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