Cascade Lake Effect: A Performance Look At Intel’s Core i9-10980XE

by Rob Williams on November 25, 2019 in Processors

We’ve reached the third generation of eighteen core desktop processors from Intel, with the launch of the new Core X-series, and its flagship Core i9-10980XE. Even with a bump to the max Turbo clock, and an increase of officially supported memory speed and total density, the most notable thing about Intel’s latest flagship is actually something else: its sub-$1,000 price tag.

Page 1 – Intel Core i9-10980XE Review

Anyone who’s been contemplating building a new PC should be grinning ear-to-ear with the onslaught of CPU releases happening this month. We kicked November off with a look at Intel’s gamer-focused Core i9-9900KS, and we’re now greeting this rare 3AM embargo time with a look at the company’s newest eighteen-core processor, built on the Cascade Lake architecture.

The Core i9-10980XE is the third generation of Intel’s eighteen-core processors for desktop users, but it’s the first to come in at under the $1,000 price point. We undoubtedly have a certain resurgent competitor to thank for this, because as soon as eight-core processors became feasible for the mainstream, a core explosion happened.

A few years ago, a sixteen-core processor would sound dreamy, but today, they’re readily available. It’s a great thing, too, considering creation workloads are picking up in popularity – and many of those love big processors. AMD has even managed to take things to the next level, offering processors with up to thirty-two cores, and a threat of a sixty-four core on the horizon. CPUs are definitely fun again.

The launch of Intel’s new Core X-series happens to occur on the same day that AMD’s launching its third-gen Ryzen Threadrippers. As such, a review of Intel’s latest enthusiast chip six hours ahead of the Threadripper launch means this review is going live with limited data, and in fact, it’ll be far lighter on commentary than usual, simply due to the next content needing to get written for later today.

Originally, Intel and AMD shared the same embargo time, but Intel pulled its own ahead six hours. At the time of this writing, our Threadripper testing is not complete, but it is on the Linux side. We thus plan to greet the Threadripper launch later today with a Linux look that will also include the i9-10980XE. We’ll then follow-up with our full Windows benchmarking look once testing is complete.

Here’s Intel’s current line-up, which features models from the mainstream Core platform:

Intel Processor Lineup
Cores Clock (Turbo 3.0) L3 Memory IGP TDP Price
Core X-Series
i9-10980XE 18 (36T) 3.0 GHz (4.8) 24.75MB Quad No 165W $979
i9-10940X 14 (28T) 3.3 GHz (4.8) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $784
i9-10920X 12 (24T) 3.5 GHz (4.8) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $689
i9-10900X 10 (20T) 3.7 GHz (4.7) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $590
i9-9980XE 18 (36T) 3.1 GHz (4.5) 24.75MB Quad No 165W $1,979
i9-9960X 16 (32T) 3.5 GHz (4.5) 22MB Quad No 165W $1,684
i9-9940X 14 (28T) 3.8 GHz (4.5) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $1,387
i9-9920X 12 (24T) 3.4 GHz (4.5) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $1,189
i9-9900X 10 (20T) 3.5 GHz (4.5) 19.25MB Quad No 165W $989
i9-9820X 10 (20T) 3.8 GHz (4.5) 16.5MB Quad No 165W $898
i9-9800X 8 (16T) 3.8 GHz (4.5) 16.5MB Quad No 165W $589
Core Series
i9-9900KS 8 (16T) 4.0 GHz (5.0) 16MB Dual Yes 127W $513
i9-9900K 8 (16T) 3.6 GHz (5.0) 16MB Dual Yes 95W $480
i9-9900 8 (16T) 3.1 GHz (5.0) 16MB Dual Yes 65W $439
i7-9700K 8 (8T) 3.6 GHz (4.9) 12MB Dual Yes 95W $374
i7-9700 8 (8T) 3.0 GHz (4.7) 12MB Dual Yes 65W $323
i5-9600K 6 (6T) 3.7 GHz (4.6) 9MB Dual Yes 65W $262
i5-9600 6 (6T) 3.1 GHz (4.6) 9MB Dual Yes 65W $213
i5-9500 6 (6T) 3.0 GHz (4.4) 9MB Dual Yes 65W $192
i5-9400 6 (6T) 2.9 GHz (4.1) 9MB Dual Yes 65W $182
i3-9350K 4 (4T) 4.0 GHz (4.6) 8MB Dual Yes 91W $173
i3-9320 4 (4T) 3.7 GHz (4.4) 8MB Dual Yes 62W $154
i3-9300 4 (4T) 3.7 GHz (4.3) 8MB Dual Yes 62W $143
i3-9100 4 (4T) 3.6 GHz (4.2) 6MB Dual Yes 65W $122

While AMD made significant architectural improvements with the move from the original Zen to Zen 2, the shift from Skylake-X to Cascake Lake-X is much more modest. As the performance results will show, there are many occasions when the 9980XE and 10980XE will perform exactly the same, or even trade blows with each other.

The 10980XE does have a couple of tricks up its sleeves, though, such as the increased max memory spec from 2666 to 2933, and a bump of total supported memory density from 128GB to 256GB. Notably, the Xeon W-series of processors are spec’d spectacularly similarly to this Core X-series, but pro features like vPro can be found, as well as bumped max memory density to 1TB, along with support for ECC DIMMs.

Because we’ll be following up with more CPU content later today, with the soon-to-be-released Threadripper chips, we’re keeping commentary light across the result pages, as there’s really not much that’s safe to say until we’re able to talk about the full picture. As always, you can peruse our system methodologies on the next page, or head on over to page three to get started with a look at the results.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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