Intel Xeon W-3175X Review: Supercharged 28-Core Skylake-SP

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Intel Xeon W-3175X - Overclocking And Power Consumption

We also spent a little time overclocking the Xeon W-3175X. Like Intel's other unlocked processors, the easiest way to overclock the Xeon W-3175X is by tweaking various multipliers. BCLK straps and granular frequency manipulation are also available for fine tuning, but the quickest gains will come from simply upping the CPU core voltage and cranking up the CPU core multipliers. Like more mainstream K series SKUs and and Core X series processors, the Xeon W-3175X is fully unlocked; so CPU, Turbo, and Memory frequencies can be easily altered through multiplier manipulation.

Overclocking The Intel Xeon W-3175X
Pushing Them To The Limit

With a chip as large and complex as the Intel Xeon W-3175X, power and cooling considerations are very important when overclocking. In its stock configuration, this processor is rated for 255W, but power consumption and heat output can shoot up considerably when the chip is pushed beyond spec. As such, Intel has incorporated options to increase voltages and specify peak current thresholds. These threshold options and power/heat considerations add some wrinkles and complexity to the overclocking process, if you're looking to squeeze every last MHz out of a Skylake-SP chip. However, provided you've got ample cooling and a beefy power supply, some quick-and-dirty overclocking is easily possible with the Xeon W-3175X.

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Overclocking In Action, Xeon W-3175X -- All Cores @ 4.5GHz

With an EVGA 1600W Platinum PSU and high-performance 360mm liquid-cooling solution in tow, we increased the CPU core voltage to the 1.3V range, and shot for a 4.4GHz all-core boost. Our test system was perfectly stable at this frequency, but under sustained load, we could not keep core temperatures below 105'C and performance didn't scale as expected. We experimented with an array of voltages and all-core turbo frequencies and were actually able to get into Windows at >4.6GHz, but we couldn't keep the system from throttling almost immediately under load. Ultimately, we had to crank things down to maintain acceptable temperatures, but still ended up with an impressive an all-core boost of 4.5GHz, with a lower 1.18v.

We have heard from multiple sources that higher all-core clocks than this should be possible with the Xeon W-3175X, but time constraints prevented us from experimenting further. We will be cleaning things up, trying a higher-performance TIM, and re-seating the processor and water block to see if we can attain higher frequencies, but for now this boost will have to do. We should also note, that overclocking the mesh and memory on the Xeon W-3175X is possible as well, which would push performance even further still.

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While we had our system overclocked, we re-ran a few benchmarks and saw some significant performance gains. The Xeon W-3175X's performance in Cinebench broke the 6200 mark and actually exceeded the 32-core Threadripper 2990WX's performance by nearly 24%. The system experienced a big jump in the physics benchmark as well, and and once again landed in the top spot.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

Before wrapping things up, we'd also like to talk a bit about power consumption. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems were consuming with a power meter to compare and contrast the results. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling at the Windows desktop and while under a heavy CPU workload. Keep in mind, this is total system power consumption being measured at the outlet with only the processor loaded; this does not represent the individual power consumption of just the CPUs alone.

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Intel is clearly pushing the limits of its 14nm process with the 28-core Xeon W-3175X. Under both idle and load condition, our Xeon W-3175X test system consumed the most power, by a wide margin. The nearest system -- the Threadripper 2990WX -- consumed 38 fewer watts at idle and 128 fewer watts under load. That said, the Xeon W-3175X system had seven high-speed fans whirling and RGB lighting inside that our other tests systems didn't, but those things wouldn't nearly make up for the deltas here.

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We also monitored power consumption while overclocked to see how power was affected by the additional boost in frequency and higher voltages and saw a major increase in power consumption. Cranking up the all-core Turbo frequency and pushing the CPU's core voltage to 1.18v resulted in a 253 watt increase in total system power consumption. That increase alone is more power than our entire Core i9-7900X-based test rig.

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