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Intel Core i9 10980XE Processor
To say the HEDT processor arena has been disrupted would be something of an understatement. This is an area of the market typically dominated by Intel, but the arrival of AMD Threadripper has, if you'll excuse the pun, ripped the rule book to shreds.
Heading into 2020, the tables have turned and it is now Intel who is playing catch-up in the ultra-high-end space. Hamstrung by ongoing fabrication challenges, the chip giant remains tied to the long-serving 14nm node and is hoping to put a dampener on Threadripper's monster performance with a new line of 10th Gen HEDT parts headlined by the Intel Core i9-10980XE Processor.
Intel Core i9 HEDT range
|Model||Cores / Threads||TDP||L3 Cache||Base Clock||Turbo Clock||Process||PCIe||DDR4||LGA Package||MSRP|
|10th Gen HEDT Cascade Lake-X (2019)|
|Core i9-10980XE||18 / 36||165W||24.75MB||3.0GHz||4.8GHz||14nm||48, Gen 3||Quad 2933||2066||$979|
|Core i9-10940X||14 / 28||165W||19.25MB||3.3GHz||4.8GHz||14nm||48, Gen 3||Quad 2933||2066||$797|
|Core i9-10920X||12 / 24||165W||19.25MB||3.5GHz||4.8GHz||14nm||48, Gen 3||Quad 2933||2066||$700|
|Core i9-10900X||10 / 20||165W||19.25MB||3.7GHz||4.7GHz||14nm||48, Gen 3||Quad 2933||2066||$599|
|9th Gen HEDT Skylake 9000-series (2018)|
|Core i9-9980XE||18 / 36||165W||24.75MB||3.0GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1979|
|Core i9-9960X||16 / 32||165W||22MB||3.1GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1684|
|Core i9-9940X||14 / 28||165W||19.25MB||3.3GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1387|
|Core i9-9920X||12 / 24||165W||19.25MB||3.5GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1189|
|Core i9-9900X||10 / 20||165W||19.25MB||3.5GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$989|
|Core i9-9820X||10 / 20||165W||16.5MB||3.3GHz||4.2GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$889|
|7th Gen HEDT Skylake 7000-series (2017)|
|Core i9-7980XE||18 / 36||165W||24.75MB||2.6GHz||4.4GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1999|
|Core i9-7960X||16 / 32||165W||22MB||2.8GHz||4.4GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1699|
|Core i9-7940X||14 / 28||165W||19.25MB||3.1GHz||4.4GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1399|
|Core i9-7920X||12 / 24||145W||16.5MB||2.9GHz||4.4GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$1199|
|Core i9-7900X||10 / 20||140W||13.75MB||3.3GHz||4.5GHz||14nm||44, Gen 3||Quad 2666||2066||$999|
Perusing the specification tables reveals that the new flagship Core i9 retains plenty of familiarity with predecessors dating back to 2017. This remains a 14nm solution topping out at 18 cores and 36 threads, though refinements to the Cascade Lake-X architecture do bring subtle benefits to play.
Efficiency improvements on the 14nm process enable Intel to specify higher peak boost speeds across the range - Core i9-10980XE can scale to 4.8GHz, a near-seven per cent increase over last year's Core i9-9980XE - and the LGA 2066 package has been spruced-up, too. There are now a further four PCIe 3.0 lanes courtesy of the high-core-count (HCC) die, as well as official support for faster 2,933MHz, though do be aware that full 48-lane compatibility may require a new motherboard productised as X299 Refresh.
Rounding out the upgrades, Intel also touts additional support for Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5G Ethernet via external controllers, as well as Optane, Thunderbolt 3, and the ability to accommodate up to a maximum of 256GB of RAM, up from the previous limit of 128GB. How does Intel imagine the new flagship will stack up against the competition? The biggest indicator is arguably the $979 price tag, which is a far cry from the $1,999 asking fee of the Core i9-7980XE back in 2017, and a sign that Intel understands it now needs to compete on price, rather than performance alone.
Benchmarks from leading review sites paint the Core i9-10980XE as the fastest consumer processor available from Intel, yet when working with heavily multi-threaded workloads, the latest Core i9 struggles to keep pace with AMD's mainstream Ryzen 9 3950X and can't get remotely close to the latest Threadripper parts.
There's no mistake, in demanding workloads that are viewed as the bread and butter of HEDT environments, Intel's Core i9-10980XE is roughly on par with a regular Ryzen 9 3950X that costs less and has two fewer cores. Third-generation Threadripper stands alone in setting new standards for HEDT.
Who would have predicted, that in late 2019, Intel would occupy the bottom three slots in a multi-threaded CPU benchmark? It is worth pointing out that the Core i9-10980XE is a step-up from previous Intel HEDT parts, and considerably faster than the regular Core i9-9900KS, yet there's work to be done if Intel wants to regain the crown.
Want to game on your HEDT platform? This used to be an area in which Intel held an advantage, yet the lines have blurred and it is now difficult to tell the Ryzen and Core platforms apart; both are perfectly adept at handling today's latest games.
Being cemented to 14nm isn't helping in the power consumption department, with the Core i9-10980XE consuming almost 50 per cent more power than a Ryzen 9 3950X offering similar levels of performance.
Iterative improvements make the Core i9-10980XE the best HEDT solution to be made available from Intel, and a lower price point, coupled with higher frequencies and a refreshed feature-set, make it solid chip that serves as a potential upgrade path for existing users on the X299 platform.
With AMD's 7nm Ryzen changing the high-performance landscape completely, Intel finds itself playing catch-up in a battleground it recently dominated.
The 2019 Intel Core i9-10980XE HEDT processor is available to purchase right here at Scan Computers.