Friday , October 22 2021

Intel Core i9-9980XE Processor Review: Refresh until Hertz becomes available


It's been over a year since Intel introduced the Skylake-X processors and the Basin Falls platform, with several processors ranging from the six-core to the eighteenth core. At that time, Intel's competition went through the roof in the main line, the PCIe track, energy consumption. To compete, Intel went a different route by refreshing the stack of products focusing on frequency, cache updates and an updated thermal interface. Today we're testing the highest CPU on this list, Core i9-9980XE.

The latest Intel processors

In October, during the Fall Desktop Event, Intel raised the lid of a new generation of high-end desktop processors. In total, there will be seven new processors, core Core i9-9980XE at the top, up to eight-core Core i7-9800X as the cheapest model.

Intel Basin Falls Skylake-X Refresh
AnandTech cores TDP freq L3
L3 per
i9-9980XE 1979 USD 18/36 165 W 3.0 / 4.5 24.75 1,375 2666 44
i9-9960X USD 1684 16/32 165 W 3.1 / 4.5 22,00 1,375 2666 44
i9-9940X 1387 USD 14/28 165 W 3.3 / 4.5 19.25 1,375 2666 44
i9-9920X USD 1189 12/24 165 W 3.5 / 4.5 19.25 1,604 2666 44
i9-9900X 989 USD 10/20 165 W 3.5 / 4.5 19.25 1,925 2666 44
i9-9820X 889 USD 10/20 165 W 3.3 / 4.2 16.50 1,650 2666 44
i7-9800X 589 USD 8/16 165 W 3.8 / 4.5 16.50 2,031 2666 44

The main advantages of these new processors are the increased frequency of most parts compared to the models being replaced, the increased L3 cache in most parts, and now all advanced Intel Intel processors will have 44 PCIe paths from the processor out of the box (without chipset tracks).

By making a direct comparison with the previous generation of Intel's advanced Intel processors, the most important are frequencies. There is no longer a six-core processor, taking into account that the main processor line reaches eight cores. Everything with twelve cores or below gets an additional L3 and 44 PCIe cache memory, but also increases to maintain a 165-W TDP.

All new processors will be manufactured on an Intel 14+ node, allowing for higher frequency and using soldered thermal material between the processor and the heat dissipation device to help manage temperatures.

New wrapping HCC

The frequency of Intel desktops since 2010 is relatively simple: first, a new microarchitecture with a new socket on the new platform, and then upgrade using the same microarchitecture and socket, but in a new process node. The Skylake-X Refresh series (or refresh in the Pool, named after the chipset family) breaks this form.

New processors instead use the average Intel intelligence size to use the additional L3 cache. I will divide it into what it actually means:

Intel historically creates three different sizes of enterprise processors: low core number (LCC), high core number (HCC), and extreme core counter design (XCC). For the Skylake-SP family, the latest corporate family, the LCC project offers up to 10 cores and 13.75 MB L3 cache, the HCC design has a maximum of 18 cores and 24.75 MB L3 cache, and the XCC design has up to 28 cores from 38 , 5 MB L3 cache. Intel then disables the cores to match the required configurations that the client needs. However, the 8-core processor in this model can be 10-core LCC reduced by two cores or 18-core HCC reduced by 10 cores. Some of these cut cores may still have the L3 cache enabled, which causes more variation.

For advanced computers, Intel typically only uses LCC core count calculations. In the case of Skylake-X, the situation changed and Intel began offering HCC projects to 18 cores in its portfolio of desktops. The division was very obvious – all 10 core or below was LCC, and the 12-18 core was HCC. The options were very strict – the 14 core had 14 L3 cache cores, 12 cores had 12 L3 cache cores and so on. Intel also divided the processors into 28 PCIe bands, and some into 44 PCIe bands.

In the case of new refresher parts, Intel decided that there were no LCC variants anymore. Each new processor is a HCC variant, cut from the 18-core HCC matrix. If Intel did not tell us this directly, it would be easy to see thanks to the L3 cache counters: the lowest new chip is the Core i7-9800X, an eight-chip processor with 16.5 MB L3 cache, which would be bigger than Can offer silicon LCC.

Using HCC in all new processors is a double-edged sword. On the other hand, some processors have more cache, and each has 44 PCIe lanes. On the other hand, the TDP has risen to 165W for some of these parts, but it also means that many silicon is "wasted". The HCC silica is much larger than the LCC silicon, and Intel has fewer processors for the waffle that it produces. This ultimately means that if these processors were highly sought after, their ability to produce more could be lower. On the other hand, having one silicon project for the entire range of processors, but with the bits turned off, can help manage the warehouse.

Because the new parts use Skylake-X cores, it is equipped with AVX512 support and Intel interconnect. As with the original Skylake-X parts, Intel does not define the basic grid frequency, but suggests the recommended grid frequency range. This means that most likely we will see motherboard manufacturers in their implementation of network frequency: some will operate at the highest frequency of the turbo network at all times, some will follow the frequency of the grid with the core frequency, and others will run the grid in all – the average turbo frequency.

Brazed thermal interface material (sTIM)

One of the key messages from the Fall Desktop incident during Intel's launch is the return to higher quality thermal interface materials. As we have discussed several times in the past, Intel has returned to using the base thermal grease in its processors. This thermal grease usually has greater durability due to thermal cycles (although we compare the years of use to years of use), it is cheaper, but it does worse with thermal management. The consumer line from Intel uses thermal grease from Ivy Bridge, while high-end desktop processors have been lubricated for Skylake-X.

Thermal interface
Intel Celeron pentium Core i3 Core i5 Core i7
Core i9
Sandy Bridge LGA1155 Paste Paste Paste Bonded Bonded Bonded
Ivy Bridge LGA1155 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste Bonded
Haswell / DK LGA1150 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste Bonded
Broadwell LGA1150 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste Bonded
Skylake LGA1151 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste
Kaby Lake LGA1151 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste
Coffee Lake 1151 v2 Paste Paste Paste Paste Paste
CFL-R 1151 v2 ? ? ? K = Connected
Zambezi AM3 + Bonded Carrizo AM4 Bonded
Vishera AM3 + Bonded Bristol R AM4 Bonded
Llano FM1 Paste Summit R AM4 Bonded
Trinity FM2 Paste Raven R AM4 Paste
Richland FM2 Paste Peak AM4 Bonded
Kaveri FM2 + Paste / bond * TR TR4 Bonded
Carrizo FM2 + Paste TR2 TR4 Bonded
Kabini AM1 Paste
* Some Kaveri refreshments were related

Up to 9 updatesth Generation parts, both consumed overclocking processors as well as all advanced desktop processors, return to the solder interface. The use of a liquid-metal binding agent between the processor and the heat dissipation device should improve thermal efficiency and the ability to extract thermal energy from the processor faster when sufficient coolants are used. It should also eliminate the need for some extreme enthusiasts to "remove" the processor to place its liquid metal interface between the two.

The key issue of the Intel processor here is that, according to the company, the solder interface provides better thermal performance and "can provide benefits for high frequency segments in the company." It is a place where enthusiasts rejoice. For professionals or commercial users who are looking for stability, this upgrade will help processors to cool for a given thermal solution.

How did Intel get 15% performance?

Looking at the fundamental frequencies, the Core i9-9980XE is to operate at 3.0 GHz to support a 165-byte TDP. Compared to the previous generation, which has only 2.6 GHz, this means a 15% real-world increase in performance. These new processors have no microarchitectonic changes compared to the previous generation, so the answers lie in two main areas: binning and process optimization.

The binning argument is simple – if Intel had tightened the screws in his best basket, he would see a really nice product. A company as big as Intel needs to balance the frequency with which the processor falls into a demand trap – there is no point in advertising a magical 28-core 5 GHz processor with a low TDP if it is only one per million hits.

Process optimization will be a probable cause in this case. Intel currently produces these parts on its 14 ++ production node, which is part of the "14nm class Intel" family, and is a slightly relaxed 14+ version with a larger transistor gate spacing to allow a higher frequency:

As with all corrections in semiconductor processes, if you correct one parameter, several others will also change. The increase in the higher frequency usually means higher energy consumption and the energy output power that can be supported by the thermal interface. To use 14+ over 14+, Intel could also have to use new masks that may allow minor adjustments to also improve energy consumption / thermal efficiency. One of the key functions in today's processor world is the ability of the chip to more efficiently track core voltage, which reduces overall power consumption, but Intel usually does not spill beans on such items unless it has evidence.

Exactly how much performance Intel achieved with a new stack of processors, it will pass in our tests.

More PCIe 3.0 Please: You get 44 lanes, all get 44 lanes

High-class office space began to compete with the PCIe line. The more belts are available directly from the processor, the more accelerators, high-performance networks and high-performance storage options can be used on the same motherboard. Instead of offering slightly cheaper models with fewer cores with just 28 lines (and making the motherboard system a complete pain), Intel decided that each of the new processors would offer 44 PCIe 3.0 bands. This makes the motherboard systems much easier to understand, and allows for a lot of fast mass storage through the processor, even in cheaper parts.

Besides, Intel likes to promote that its top-shelf chipset also has 24 PCIe 3.0 bands. This is a bit of a fudge, given that these lines are narrow by the PCIe 3.0 x4 connection back to the processor, and that some of these bands will be downloaded via USB ports or networks, but like every communication center, the idea is that the connections by the chipset are not "always hammered" connections. What I like about this, however, is that Intel likes to add 44 + 24 straps to say that there are "PCIe Platform Platforms 3.0", which means they're all equal. It's hard for me.

Intel faces competition on PCIe tracks, as the AMD High-End Desktop platform Threadripper 2 offers 60 PCIe strips on all its parts. AMD recently announced that its next generation 7nm processors will be using PCIe 4.0, so we can expect the AMD HEDT platform to also gain PCIe 4.0 at some point in the future. Intel will have to improve its game to be sure to remain competitive.

Motherboard options

New advanced desktop processors are built to fit into the LGA2066 socket and use X299 chipsets, so any X299 motherboard available on the market with a BIOS update should be able to accept these new parts, including Core i9-9980XE . When we asked ASRock for a new BIOS, given that those on the list did not find out whether the new processors were supported, we were told that "actually the latest BIOS does support them". It seems that MB vendors have been ready for microcode for at least several months, so any user with an updated motherboard may be right away (although we suggest that you check and update the latest version).

For users who are looking for new, high-end desktop systems, we offer many reviews of motherboards that you can view:

We will probably see some new models that will appear on the market as part of refreshment, as we have already seen with the new GIGABYTE X299-UA8 chip with two PLX systems, although most manufacturers already have significant lines on the X299 motherboard.


In this Core i9-9980XE review, Intel has two classes of competition.

First of all, alone. Core i9-7980XE was the flagship model of the previous generation and will undoubtedly be offered at a discount when the i9-9980XE hits the shelves. There is also the question of whether more cores or higher frequency is the best, which was answered on the basis of a per-benchmark test. We tested all Hedt processors from the Skylake-X 7000 series for such a response. We will test the rest of the 9000 series when the samples are made available.

AnandTech cores TDP freq L3
L3 per
i9-9980XE 1979 USD 18/36 165 W 3.0 / 4.5 24.75 1,375 2666 44
i9-7980XE 1999 USD 18/36 165 W 2.5 / 4.4 24.75 1,375 2666 44
TR 2990WX 1799 USD 32/64 250 W 3.0 / 4.2 64,00 2,000 2933 60
TR 2970WX 1299 USD 24/48 250 W 3.0 / 4.2 64,00 2,000 2933 60
TR 2950X 899 USD 16/32 180 W 3.5 / 4.4 32,00 2,000 2933 60

Second, AMD. The latest version of the Threadripper 2 processor was probably noticed by Intel, offering 32 cores at just under the price of 18-core Core i9-9980XE Intel. In our Threadripper 2990WX review, we found that in comparative tests that can benefit from a bimodal configuration, Intel can not compete. However, Intel processors include a more efficiently broader range of loads. This is a difficult situation when we compare elements such as 12-core AMD with 12-core Intel, where comparative tests are equal, but AMD is half cheaper with larger PCIe belts. It will be difficult for Intel to be competitive on all fronts (and vice versa).

Availability and prices

Interestingly, Intel offered us our sample opinion last week about i9-9980XE. I suspect that this means that processors, at least i9-9980XE, should be available from today. If not, it's coming soon: Intel promised to the end of the year, along with the 28-core Xeon W-3175X (there is still no word for it yet).

The prices are as follows:

price list
Intel * AMD **
i9-9980XE 1979 USD
1799 USD TR 2990WX
i9-9960X USD 1684
i9-9940X 1387 USD
1299 USD TR 2970WX
i9-9920X USD 1189
i9-9900X 989 USD
i9-9820X ~ 890 USD TR 2950X
649 USD TR 2920X
i7-9800X 589 USD
i9-9900K 488 USD
329 USD Ryzen 7 2700X
* Intel prices are for 1k units
** AMD prices suggest retail prices

Pages in this review

  1. Analysis and competition
  2. Test Bed and Setup
  3. 2018 and 2019 Benchmark Suite: Specter and Meltdown Hardened
  4. HEDT performance: Coding tests
  5. HEDT Performance: Rendering tests
  6. HEDT performance: System tests
  7. HEDT productivity: office tests
  8. HEDT performance: Web and Legacy tests
  9. HEDT performance: SYSMark 2018
  10. Gaming: World of Tanks enCore
  11. Gaming: Final Fantasy XV
  12. Gaming: Shadow of War
  13. Games: Civilization 6
  14. Games: Ashes Classic
  15. Playing: A strange brigade
  16. Games: Grand Theft Auto V
  17. Playing: Far Cry 5
  18. Gaming: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  19. Games: F1 2018
  20. Energy consumption
  21. Conclusions and final words
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