Intel Core i9-9980XE CPU Review: Supercharged, Many-Core Skylake-X

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Intel Core i9-9980XE - SANDRA, PCMark, And GeekBench

Test System Configuration Notes: When configuring our test systems for this article, we first made sure all firmware was up to date, and then we entered their respective system BIOSes / UEFI and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High performance" defaults. We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set the memory frequency to the maximum officially supported speed for the given platform (without overclocking). The SSDs were then formatted, and the latest build of Windows 10 Pro x64 was installed.

9980xe style
Intel Core i9-9980XE

When the Windows installation was complete, we fully updated the OS, and installed all of the drivers necessary for our components. Auto-Updating and Windows Defender were then disabled, and we installed all of our benchmarking software, performed a disk clean-up, and cleared any temp and prefetch data. Finally, we enabled Windows Quiet Hours and let the systems reach an idle state before invoking a test.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and AMD - Head To Head
9980 xe test rigs
Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2018
Synthetic Benchmarks

We began our testing with the latest version of SiSoftware's SANDRA 2018, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in sub-system tests that partially comprise the suite with Intel's latest processors (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cache and Memory, and Memory Bandwidth). All of the scores reported below were taken with the CPU running at its default settings, with 32GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2,666MHz, in quad-channel mode, on a Gigabyte Aorus X299 Gaming 7 Pro motherboard.

san cpu
Processor Arithmetic

san mm
Multi-Media

san mem
Memory Bandwidth

san cache
Cache and Memory

The Core i9-9980XE put up come big numbers in the various SANDRA tests we ran. The CPU managed an aggregate score in the arithmetic benchmark of almost 564GOPs, and its multi-media score was a chart-topping 790.83MPix/s. Memory bandwidth peaked at over 61GB/s, and save for a small blip with the 8kb dataset, cache and memory latency was in-line with expectations.

Geekbench
Synthetic CPU Testing

In the GeekBench test, we're stressing only the CPU cores in a system (not graphics or GPU architecture), with both single and multi-threaded workloads. The tests are comprised of encryption processing, image compression, HTML5 parsing, physics calculations and other general purpose compute processing workloads.

geekback
* Threadripper 2970WX (b) results = Dynamic Local Mode Enabled, (c) results = 1/2 core mode with UMA Memory

The Core i9-9980XE pulled off a first-place finish in GeekBench's multi-threaded benchmark, besting every other Intel and AMD processor. Single-threaded performance was also strong, and trailed only the higher-clocked, Coffee Lake-based Core i7-8700K and i9-9900K.

PCMark 10
System Level Benchmark
Next, up we have some full-system testing with PCMark. We're reporting all test results from the PCMark 10 benchmark suite, including the Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation and and total PCMark score. The Essentials test covers workloads like web browsing, video conferencing and app start-up times, while Productivity tests everyday office apps from spreadsheets to word processing. Finally, the Digital Content Creation test evaluates performance of a machine with respect to photo and video editing, as well as rendering and visualization.

pcmark10
* Threadripper 2970WX (b) results = Dynamic Local Mode Enabled, (c) results = 1/2 core mode with UMA Memory

PCMark 10 exhibited some anomalous behavior with the Core i9-9980XE. We expected the chip to slot in just in front of the Core i7-7980XE, but it ended up trailing significantly in terms of the overall score and a couple of the sub-tests. In the Essentials portion of the benchmark, however, the 9980XE led the pack. We suspect the chip wasn't turbo-ing properly in every test, because the supporting hardware was identical (we literally took the 7980XE out of the test rig and popped the 9980XE in). Regardless, for the relatively light-duty workloads in PCMark, the Core i9-9980XE is more than up to the task.

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