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

Intel introduces the Intel Core X-series processors in October 2

Date: November 25, 2019
Author(s): Rob Williams

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.



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
CoresClock (Turbo 3.0)L3MemoryIGPTDPPrice
Core X-Series
i9-10980XE18 (36T)3.0 GHz (4.8)24.75MBQuadNo165W$979
i9-10940X14 (28T)3.3 GHz (4.8)19.25MBQuadNo165W$784
i9-10920X12 (24T)3.5 GHz (4.8)19.25MBQuadNo165W$689
i9-10900X10 (20T)3.7 GHz (4.7)19.25MBQuadNo165W$590
i9-9980XE18 (36T)3.1 GHz (4.5)24.75MBQuadNo165W$1,979
i9-9960X16 (32T)3.5 GHz (4.5)22MBQuadNo165W$1,684
i9-9940X14 (28T)3.8 GHz (4.5)19.25MBQuadNo165W$1,387
i9-9920X12 (24T)3.4 GHz (4.5)19.25MBQuadNo165W$1,189
i9-9900X10 (20T)3.5 GHz (4.5)19.25MBQuadNo165W$989
i9-9820X10 (20T)3.8 GHz (4.5)16.5MBQuadNo165W$898
i9-9800X8 (16T)3.8 GHz (4.5)16.5MBQuadNo165W$589
Core Series
i9-9900KS8 (16T)4.0 GHz (5.0)16MBDualYes127W$513
i9-9900K8 (16T)3.6 GHz (5.0)16MBDualYes95W$480
i9-99008 (16T)3.1 GHz (5.0)16MBDualYes65W$439
i7-9700K8 (8T)3.6 GHz (4.9)12MBDualYes95W$374
i7-97008 (8T)3.0 GHz (4.7)12MBDualYes65W$323
i5-9600K6 (6T)3.7 GHz (4.6)9MBDualYes65W$262
i5-96006 (6T)3.1 GHz (4.6)9MBDualYes65W$213
i5-95006 (6T)3.0 GHz (4.4)9MBDualYes65W$192
i5-94006 (6T)2.9 GHz (4.1)9MBDualYes65W$182
i3-9350K4 (4T)4.0 GHz (4.6)8MBDualYes91W$173
i3-93204 (4T)3.7 GHz (4.4)8MBDualYes62W$154
i3-93004 (4T)3.7 GHz (4.3)8MBDualYes62W$143
i3-91004 (4T)3.6 GHz (4.2)6MBDualYes65W$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.

Test Methodology & Systems

Benchmarking a CPU may sound like a simple enough task, but in order to deliver accurate, repeatable results, strict guidelines need to be adhered to. This makes for rigorous, time-consuming testing, but we feel that the effort is worth it.

This page exists so that we can be open about how we test, and give those who care about testing procedures an opportunity to review our methodology before flaming us in the comments. Here, you can see a breakdown of all of our test machines, specifics about the tests themselves, and other general information that might be useful.

Let’s start with a look at the test platforms, for AMD’s TR4 (MSI’s MEG X399 Creation) and AM4 (Aorus X570 MASTER), along with Intel’s LGA2011-v3 (ASUS’ ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING), and LGA1151 (ASUS’ ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING).

On our Intel platforms that use ASUS motherboards, we disable the “MultiCore Enhancement” feature, which effectively operates the CPU beyond stock speeds. The same feature doesn’t exist on our AMD platforms. We validated our configuration with AMD, Intel, and ASUS before settling on it.

On the mitigation front, nothing is explicitly done outside of having the most up-to-date EFI and chipset driver installed on every motherboard. Systems are effectively default, and whichever security mitigations are applied will be automatic ones applied by the motherboard firmware or driver vendor. All platforms are run with 32GB DDR4-3200 (14-14-14) memory configurations.

Here’s the full breakdown of the test rigs:

Techgage’s CPU Testing Platforms

AMD AM4 Test Platform
ProcessorsAMD Ryzen 9 3950X (3.5GHz, 16C/32T)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (3.8GHz, 12C/24T)
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (3.6GHz, 8C/16T)
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X (3.8GHz, 6C/12T)
MotherboardAorus X570 MASTER
CPUs tested with BIOS F10c (November 8, 2019)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti (12GB; GeForce 441.12)
StorageWD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyEVGA Bronze 600B1 (600W)
ChassisFractal Design Define C
CoolingCorsair Hydro H115i PRO RGB (280mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (1903, Build 18362)

AMD TR4 Test Platform
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX (3.0GHz, 32C/64T)
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X (3.5 GHz, 16C/32T)
MotherboardMSI MEG X399 Creation
CPUs tested with BIOS 7B92v13 (April 11, 2019)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti (12GB; GeForce 441.12)
StorageWD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid (1300W)
ChassisCooler Master MasterCase H500P Mesh
CoolingEnermax LIQTECH TR4 240mm
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (1903, Build 18362)

Intel LGA1151 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i9-9900KS (4.0GHz, 8C/16T)
Intel Core i9-9900K (3.60GHz, 8C/16T)
Intel Core i7-8700K (3.70GHz, 8C/16T) (Only Some Tests)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
CPUs tested with BIOS 1302 (September 20, 2019)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti (12GB; GeForce 441.12)
StorageWD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCorsair RM650X (1200W)
ChassisNZXT S340 Elite Mid-tower
CoolingCorsair Hydro H100i V2 AIO Liquid Cooler (240mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (1903, Build 18362)

Intel LGA2011-3 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i9-10980XE (3.0GHz, 18C/36T)
Intel Core i9-9980XE (3.0GHz, 18C/36T)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING
CPU tested with BIOS 2002 (October 4, 2019)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti (12GB; GeForce 441.12)
StorageWD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCorsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 (1200W)
ChassisCorsair Carbide 600C
CoolingNZXT Kraken X62 AIO (280mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (1903, Build 18362)

Testing Considerations

For our testing, we use Windows 10 build 18362 (1903) with full updates. Version 1909 was released in the middle of our benchmarking, so we’ve stuck to 1903 here. For the sake of sanity checking, we cloned one of our test platform SSDs to upgrade to 1909, and couldn’t find any change to performance across ten or so benchmarks. In the grand scheme of Windows releases, 1909 is minor, but we’ll still upgrade next time we need to start from scratch.

Here are some basic guidelines we follow:


Encoding Tests

Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Encoding: Adobe Lightroom
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Encoding: Adobe Premiere Pro
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Encoding: Blackmagic RAW Speed Test
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Photogrammetry: Agisoft Metashape
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Music Encoding: LameXP
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

Adobe Lightroom Classic
Adobe Premiere Pro
Agisoft Metashape
Blackmagic RAW Speed Test
HandBrake
LameXP

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


Rendering Tests

Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Autodesk Arnold in Maya
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Blender
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Chaos Czech Corona Renderer in 3ds Max
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3 dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Rendering: Chaos Group V-Ray Next in 3ds Max
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: MAXON Cinebench
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: MAXON Cinema 4D
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: POV-Ray
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Rendering: V-Ray Next Benchmark
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)


Arnold (Maya 2019) (Also relevant to: 3ds Max, C4D, Houdini, Katana, Softimage)
Blender
Cinebench
Cinema 4D
Corona (3ds Max 2019) (Also relevant to: C4D)
KeyShot (Also relevant to: 3ds Max, Maya, Creo, SketchUp, SolidWorks, NX, Rhino)
POV-Ray
V-Ray Next (3ds Max 2019) (Also relevant to: C4D, Houdini, Maya, Rhino, SketchUp)
V-Ray Benchmark
SiSoftware Sandra 2020

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


Gaming Tests

Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Far Cry 5
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Total War: Three Kingdoms
UL 3DMark

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


If you think there’s some information lacking on this page, or you simply want clarification on anything in particular, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Encoding: Premiere Pro, Vegas Pro & Agisoft Metashape

We’re going to kick off this performance look with a handful of encode tests. Encoding is one of those scenarios that can be extremely hit-or-miss when it comes to taking good advantage of big CPUs. Sometimes, applications will give the impression that they’re making proper use of the CPU, but we’ve found more than once that some applications actually just use the entire CPU very poorly.

Fortunately, the situation is getting a lot better over time. As an example, for most of its life, Adobe’s Lightroom didn’t use more than a few cores and threads. Today, the application can use most of whatever CPU you can hand it.

The performance look on this page is going to tackle Adobe’s ever-popular Premiere Pro, as well as MAGIX’s Vegas Pro. That duo takes care of video encoding for this page, while Agisoft’s Metashape will help with a photogrammetry scenario.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC – CPU

Adobe Premiere Pro 2020
Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 1080p YouTube CPU Encode (AVC) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 4K YouTube CPU Encode (AVC) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Adobe Premiere Pro CC – CPU + GPU

Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 1080p YouTube CPU Encode (CUDA, AVC) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 4K YouTube CPU Encode (CUDA, AVC) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Adobe Premiere Pro CC – Codec Comparisons

Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 4K60 AVC to 1080p HEVC Encode Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 8K24 RED to 1080p HEVC Encode Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 - 8K24 ProRes 422 to 1080p HEVC Encode Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

MAGIX Vegas

MAGIX Vegas Pro 17 - Median FX Test
MAGIX Vegas Pro 17 - Median FX CPU Encode Performance - (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
MAGIX Vegas Pro 17 - Median FX NVENC Encode Performance - (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Agisoft Metashape

Agisoft Metashape
Agisoft Metashape Photogrammetry Performance - Build Dense Cloud (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Agisoft Metashape Photogrammetry Performance - Build Depth Maps (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Agisoft Metashape Photogrammetry Performance - Build Mesh (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Agisoft Metashape Photogrammetry Performance - Build Texture (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Encoding: Adobe Lightroom, BRAW Speed Test, HandBrake & LameXP

On this page, we’re going to be tackling a few additional encoding-type projects. Since the beginning of its life, we’ve benchmarked with Adobe’s Lightroom, but dropped it for about a year or two because it wouldn’t reliably scale. Over time, things changed, and now the application seems pretty efficient on multi-core CPUs.

In addition to Lightroom, we’ve also added Blackmagic RAW Speed Test, which acts as a simple way to see how a CPU can handle playback of BRAW footage at different compression levels. In time, we’ll be adding a much fuller Resolve test to the suite, but this BRAW test fills in for now. Finally, we’re also testing with LameXP, an open-source music encoder that can take advantage of many-core CPUs, as well as the super-popular HandBrake transcoder.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Adobe Lightroom Classic
Adobe Lightroom Classic - RAW to JPEG Export Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test
Blackmagic RAW Speed Test (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

HandBrake

HandBrake AVC Encode Performance - (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
HandBrake HEVC Encode Performance - (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

LameXP

LameXP
LameXP - FLAC to MP3 Encode Performance - (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Rendering: Arnold, Blender, KeyShot, V-Ray Next

There are few things we find quite as satisfying as rendering: seeing a bunch of assets thrown into a viewport that turn into a beautiful scene. Rendering also happens to be one of the best possible examples of what can take advantage of as much PC hardware as you can throw at it. This is true both for CPUs and GPUs.

On this page and next, we’re tackling many different renderers, because not all renderers behave the same way. That will be proven in a few cases. If you don’t see a renderer that applies to you, it could to some degree in the future, should you decide to make a move to a different design suite or renderer. An example: V-Ray supports more than just 3ds Max; it also supports Cinema 4D, Maya, Rhino, SketchUp, and Houdini.

Autodesk Arnold

Autodesk Arnold in Maya 2019
Autodesk Arnold CPU Render Performance - Jaguar E-Type Scene (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Autodesk Arnold CPU Render Performance - Sophie Scene (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Blender – CPU

Blender 2.8
Blender 2.80 Cycles CPU Render Performance - BMW (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Blender 2.80 Cycles CPU Render Performance - Classroom (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Blender – CPU + GPU

Blender 2.80 Cycles CPU+GPU Render Performance - BMW (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Blender 2.80 Cycles CPU+GPU Render Performance - Classroom (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

KeyShot

KeyShot 9

Luxion KeyShot 9 - Character Render 1 Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Luxion KeyShot 9 - Room Render 1 Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Chaos Group V-Ray Next – CPU

Chaos Group V-Ray in Autodesk 3ds Max 2019
Chaos Group V-Ray - Flowers CPU Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Chaos Group V-Ray - Teaset CPU Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Chaos Group V-Ray Next – CPU + GPU

Chaos Group V-Ray - Flowers CPU+GPU Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Chaos Group V-Ray - Teaset CPU+GPU Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

V-Ray Next Benchmark

Chaos Group V-Ray Next Benchmark - CPU Render Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Chaos Group V-Ray Next Benchmark - CPU+GPU Render Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Rendering: Cinebench, Cinema 4D, Corona, LuxMark, POV-Ray

We covered a handful of major renderers on the previous page, but we’re not done yet. On this page, we’re going to take a look at a few more, including some industry mainstays and newbies. That includes Corona Renderer, which we recently upgraded to version 5. We’re foregoing Adobe Dimension performance for this review, since we haven’t seen realistic scaling with the new version 3.0, and have not yet been able to investigate (typical Adobe new-release teething problems).

To give you an opportunity to test your own hardware against ours, we’re also including the ever-popular Cinebench standalone benchmark, which represents current R20 performance. This test, along with the latest version of POV-Ray, act as our only single-threaded angles in the article. For good measure, the performance on this page will be capped off the real Cinema 4D, to see how it agrees with CB.

Cinema 4D R21

Maxon Cinema 4D R21
Maxon Cinema 4D R21 - Candies Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Maxon Cinema 4D R21 - Interior Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Cinebench R20

Maxon Cinebench R20 - Multi-threaded Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Maxon Cinebench R20 - Single-threaded Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Corona Renderer

Corona 5 in 3ds Max
Chaos Czech Corona Renderer 5 Performance - Livingroom Scene (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Chaos Czech Corona Renderer 5 Performance - Sales Gallery Scene (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

LuxMark

LuxMark v4
LuxMark Food (C++) Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
LuxMark Hall Bench (C++) Render Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

POV-Ray

POV-Ray
POV-Ray 3.8 Multi-threaded Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
POV-Ray 3.8 Single-threaded Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

System: SiSoftware Sandra

While this article has no lack of synthetic benchmarks, SiSoftware’s Sandra makes it very easy to get reliable performance information on key metrics, such as arithmetic, multimedia, cryptography, and memory. Sandra is designed in such a way that it takes the best advantage of any architecture it’s given, so each CPU always has its best chance to shine.

That means a couple of things. This is definitely the “best” possible performance outlook for any chip, and doesn’t necessary correlate with real-world performance in other tests. It’s best used as a gauge of what’s possible, and to see where one architecture obviously differs from another.

SiSoftware Sandra 2020

Multimedia

SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Multi-media Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Arithmetic

SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Arithmetic Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Cryptography

SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Cryptography (High) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Cryptography (Higher) Performance (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Memory Bandwidth

SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Memory Bandwidth (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Gaming: CS: GO, Far Cry 5, R6 Siege & Three Kingdoms, 3DMark

In recent years, we haven’t had a huge gaming focus in our CPU reviews, simply because we’ve had so much other testing to take care of, some of which isn’t tackled many other places (if anywhere else on a regular basis). But, with such a massive focus on gaming with CPUs lately, we had to renew our focus, and thus, we have four games and a couple of synthetic benchmarks on-hand to help.

For our testing with real games, we’re sticking to testing with 1080p and 4K resolutions. If we’re going to benchmark games, it makes sense to us to run them at realistic resolutions, because a gain seen at 720p or lower quite literally doesn’t matter if there’s no differences seen at higher resolutions people actually play at.

With the four games here, we have two esports titles, as well as two bigger AAA titles that are actually designed to punish your system, rather than run as fast as possible without looking awful. Synthetics found at the end of the page will act as an easy second opinion.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike Global Offensive
Counter-Strike Global Offensive - 1080p Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Counter-Strike Global Offensive - 4K Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5 - 1080p Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Far Cry 5 - 4K Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - 1080p Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - 4K Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS

Total War Three Kingdoms
Total War Three Kingdoms - 1080p Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
Total War Three Kingdoms - 4K Average FPS (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Synthetic Benchmarks

UL 3DMark - Fire Strike CPU Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
UL 3DMark - Fire Strike Overall Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
UL 3DMark - Time Spy CPU Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)
UL 3DMark - Time Spy Overall Score (Intel Core i9-10980XE)

Final Thoughts

Drumming up final thoughts is sometimes an effortless endeavor, while other times, it feels like a crippling chore. In the case of this particular review, we’ve never felt more ill-prepared to conclude on anything, only because our actual thoughts are being held under lock and key until a certain competitor lifts its embargo. Thus, our thoughts here might change, but at the same time, this product really isn’t that difficult to figure out, given other recent performance articles we’ve published.

It might have more cores than AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X, but AMD’s proven to be a seriously strong contender this generation, and has forced a recalibration on what we expect out of each vendor’s CPUs in various workloads. We feel pretty safe in saying that Intel was likely caught off-guard by its current competition, but for the rest of us, everything’s resulted in us getting more cores for less money.

Just one generation ago, the 18-core 9980XE retailed for about $2,000. This 10980XE will be hitting store shelves for about half of that, a true testament to what competition can pull off. We can never say that a $1,000 CPU is affordable, but given the context, it’s truly incredible what we’re seeing for the money now, compared to only a few years ago. Many used to only dream of having so many CPU cores at their disposal, but the times have shifted to make our PCs feel like serious powerhouses.

We’ve mentioned the new Core X-series chips in relation to third-gen Threadripper numerous times in this review, but at the given price-points, both series are actually separated completely right now. With the launch of its mainstream sixteen-core processor, AMD’s started its third-gen Threadripper at twenty-four cores, and a price of $1,400. Conversely, Intel’s Core i9-10980XE sits at just under $1,000.

One area where Intel competes strongly right now is with any workload that can utilize AVX-512. We saw an example of this on our Sandra page, but our previous (and upcoming) Linux articles can highlight other workloads that will make good use of it, like Intel’s Open Image Denoise, as well as Intel’s OSPray.

As we always droll on, it’s hard to sum-up a CPU based on a single workload, and in fact, it’s never wise to do that. Despite AMD’s huge gains with Zen this generation, we still see examples of Intel coming out ahead, especially where high clocks are preferred, but numerous cores isn’t. In many cases, the 3950X edges out the 10980XE, but in others, both it and the 9980XE properly strut their stuff to take the lead.

There were a few occasions where the 9980XE pulled ahead of the 10980XE as well, and it’s hard to figure out why (Blender Classroom and V-Ray benchmark). Quite a few results are within rounding errors of each other and are largely inconsequential, while others require a bit of thinking to figure out. The slightly different clock speeds may play a part, but it does seem something else is interfering at times. This will need further investigation.

Since we can’t conclude on too much right now, we’ll say that you should keep tabs on the front page, or our social media, as we’ll be soon publishing fresh Linux performance results, following-up on our 3950X look last week. Soon after that, we’ll publish our full thoughts on AMD’s and Intel’s latest top-end chips across our full Windows suite.

More soon…

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