Intel Core i9-7980XE And Core i9-7960X Review: Intel Attacks AMD Threadripper

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Intel Core i9-7980XE And i9-7960X CPUs For Mega-Taskers

Over the last few months, Intel slowly divulged a number of details regarding the two processors we’ll be covering today, its flagship 18-core, behemoth Core i9-7980XE and its slightly smaller sibling, the 16-core Core i9-7960X. The fact that these two processors were in the works was officially disclosed all the way back in May, no doubt in an attempt to quell the impending AMD Threadripper firestorm, but specifics like frequencies, cache, and TDP were initially held back.

Those specifications were eventually revealed, and some benchmarks leaked as well, but today we’ve got the full, official scoop. We’ve had the Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X in-house and on the test bench for a few days and have an array of benchmarks, overclocking, and power-related data to share. If you’re a mega-tasker and were intrigued by the many-core, multi-threaded goodness that was AMD’s Threadripper, you’ll most definitely want to strap in and check these things out...
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Intel Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X HEDT Processors
Specifications & Features

Intel has claimed that its Core X-series products are the company’s “Most Powerful, Most Scalable” desktop processors to date. When you consider they scale from a quad-core part with only 16 PCI Express lanes, all the way on up to a monolithic 18-core chip with 44 integrated PCIe lanes, scalable certainly does come to mind.
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Intel Core i9-7980XE And Core i9-7960X, Top And Bottom

The rest of the specifications of the 18-core Core i9-7980XE and 16-core Core i9-7960X are detailed in the table above. As you can see, they both feature HyperThreading, hence the support for 36 and 32 processing threads with these 18 and 16 core processors. They both have the same number of PCIe lanes (44), support for quad-channel DDR4 at official speeds of up to 2666MHz (faster speeds are supported when overclocking), 165 watt TDPs, and similar support for an array of Intel technologies. Both chips also leverage the same LGA 2066 socket and X299-chipset as well (not listed). Where they differ is with regard to their base and turbo clocks, total cache, and a minor difference in max TJunction temperature.

The Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X are both based on Intel’s Skylake-X microarchitecture. Due to the fact that we have already covered Skylake and Skylake-X in detail in a number of past articles, we won’t be rehashing things here. We would suggest, however, taking a gander at some of our previous coverage. Between our Core i9-7900X / Core i7-7740X review, our Xeon Scalable Series Processor article, and a host of other Skylake-related details, we’ve got you covered.

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Intel Core i9-7980XE CPU-Z Processor And Cache Details

As we’ve mentioned, the Core i9-7980XE (Extreme Edition) sits atop the Core X Series line-up. This beast is packing 18 Skylake-X cores (36 threads with HyperThreading) with a base clock of 2.6GHz and max Turbo 2.0 and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 frequencies of 4.2GHz and 4.4GHz, respectively. Max all-core boost wasn’t revealed in Intel’s specifications but we saw that hover in the 3.4GHz range with all-cores taxed in benchmarks like Cinebench and Blender. The Core i9-7980XE has 24.75MB of shared L3 cache, 1MB of L2 cache per core, and a TDP of 165W

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Intel Core i9-7960X CPU-Z Processor And Cache Details

The Core i9-7960X’s details are essentially same, though two processor cores and the cache associated with them have been lopped off. Though this processor has fewer cores, the Core i9-7960X has a couple of advantages going for it. For one, the base clock is 200MHz higher than the flagship Core i9-7980XE. And two, we witnessed higher all-core turbo-boost frequencies as well. The all-core boost frequency typically hovered in the 3.6GHz range with the Core i9-7960X.

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