Intel’s Core-X Series is definitely a departure from what we’ve seen Intel do in the past with their high-end desktop (HEDT) parts. You can get into the platform for as low as $242 and as much as $1999. Obviously Intel’s decisions on the Core-X Series have been motivated by AMD’s Ryzen and ThreadRipper parts. I mean I never thought I would see an 18-core, 36-thread part in a consumer line from Intel, at least not for a long while. So let’s just sit back and appreciate that we are in a very exciting time for the CPU market.
Intel’s Core i9-7980XE which we took a look at today sits at the top of Intel’s Core-X Series. It has 18-cores, 32-threads, and 27.45 MB of L3 cache. As far as speed goes you have base clocks of 2.6 GHz, a boost clock of 4.2 GHz, and two cores reaching up to 4.4 GHz with the new Turbo Boost 3.0 technology. With all of those things together this is the fastest processor we’ve ever tested when it comes to multi-threaded workloads! It crushes all of the other high-end desktop parts we’ve tested lately, and rightfully so. It is the highest core-count consumer processor available currently.
Sadly we were unable to test directly against AMD’s ThreadRipper processors because we do not have any on hand. If you are interested in that there are plenty of great sites out there that will have those results. Against Intel’s $999 Core i9-7900X the i9-7980XE was about 40% faster in multi-threaded benchmarks. While not 50% faster for 50% the cost, it is still quite a lot of performance you are getting for the extra money.
When it comes to overclocking these higher-end chips you are going to want to make sure you have a good motherboard. I think that many motherboard manufacturers designed boards when the Intel roadmap only showed 12-core chips. There have been multiple reports of VRM issues and other things with higher core-count Intel chips. Also when you start overclocking these chips they are going to pull a lot of power. Talking with people who have these chips and with my testing the chip will pull anywhere from 400-500W when you put full load on it. That is a lot of power, especially if your motherboard only has a single EPS connector. So if you plan to do any type of 24/7 overclock I would highly recommend getting a motherboard that can handle that. In our testing we were able to get the chip up to 4.4 GHz at 87C under load with our NZXT Kraken X52 which was stable, but I would not recommend going any higher if you planned on running this overclock 24/7. The heat issues could have been solved by Intel using solder between the die and the heatspreader, actually that would have been a great feature of these higher clocked Core i9 parts, but it is not there.
So who is the Core i9-7980XE for? I mean most people are spending around $2000 on a high-end desktop system and this processor alone is $1999. If you are a gamer and want to get into the Core-X Series the Core i7-7820X and Core i9-7900X are better options in my opinion as you can take that extra money and put it towards a better graphics card. This processor is for someone who wants the best performance in multi-threaded workloads. Someone doing serious video and photo editing, workstation users, etc. Don’t get me wrong, this is a badass processor and anyone building an X299 system would love to have it, but its price puts it out of reach for most users.
At the end of the day this is the fastest desktop processor we’ve ever testing and the highest core-count as well. A really awesome product to be able to take a look at, as such we would like to award it our Editor’s Choice Award!
– 18 cores, 36-threads
– Fastest desktop processor we’ve ever tested!
– Insane multi-threaded performance
– Good temperatures at default speeds
– You’ll need a good motherboard for overclocking
– Price puts it out of range for many people