Intel Core i9-9980XE CPU Review: Still Too Expensive

Power, Overclocking and Test Setup

Power consumption measurements are always a bit tricky. But as long as your 12V supply (EPS) readings, motherboard power supply sensor values, and voltage transformer losses plausibly coincide, everything is fine. Therefore, we're using pure package power to avoid possible influences from our motherboard. Results from the PWM controller are very reliable if you take them as averages over a few minutes.

We conducted this round of limited testing in our U.S. lab, and our results are not directly comparable with numbers from the German lab used in previous reviews.

We expected high power consumption from the Core i9-9980XE, and Intel's flagship didn't disappoint. At stock settings, we recorded 245W from AVX-optimized workload and 199W in a stress test that didn't use AVX instructions. Fortunately, our Corsair H115i closed-loop liquid cooler proved ample with its fans in performance mode. The H115i maintained temperatures below 75°C during an extended session of Prime95 and 65°C during a non-AVX stress test.

Those numbers skyrocketed when we began overclocking. At 4.4 GHz, we observed 256W during an SSE-optimized stress test and 348W with AVX instructions in play (in spite of a relatively tame 3.3 GHz AVX offset). The new Blender benchmark is an effective power benchmark, too: the Core i9-9980XE consumed up to 392W during its render.

As with the Skylake-X processors we already reviewed, current has a big impact on both performance and heat. It's even possible to generate higher performance scores in threaded benchmarks like Cinebench by using a higher VCCIN voltage setting (at a given frequency).

Unfortunately, Intel didn't give us much time with the Core i9-9980XE before lifting its embargo, so we don't have a complete suite of overclocked benchmark results yet. But we did experiment, dialing the VCCIN to 1.92V and upping Vcore to 1.1V for a 4.4 GHz overclock. We also dialed back the AVX offset to -11, yielding 3.3 GHz, along with a -16 AVX-512 offset to run the processor at its stock 2.8 GHz during the most taxing AVX-optimized workloads. Even with our offsets in place, we saw up to 95°C during the Blender benchmark and 90°C in an extended non-AVX stress test.

Even with our relaxed settings, heat easily overwhelmed our H115i after small voltage increases, and that was with its fans cranking away at maximum speed. Just like the first-gen Skylake-X chips, thermals limited our overclocking efforts before hitting the silicon's limits, despite solder-based TIM. Build your own custom loop if you plan on serious overclocking. Also, we advise forced air or water cooling on the power delivery subsystem. Invest in a PSU able to deliver at least 20A on the +12V rail. MSI’s BIOS warns that you need a power supply capable of providing up to 1000W through the eight-pin EPS cable; a beefy PSU is non-negotiable.

Comparison Products

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Test Setup

Test System & Configuration
Hardware

Intel LGA 2066
Intel Core i9-9980XE, -7960X, -7980XE, -7900X
MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666, DDR4-3200

AMD Socket SP3 (TR4)
Ryzen Threadripper Gen 1 & 2
MSI MEG X399 Creation
4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933, DDR4-3200, DDR4-3466

AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933

Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)
Intel Core i9-9900K
MSI MEG Z390 Godlike
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466

All Systems
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE
1TB Samsung PM863
SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500W
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)

Cooling

Wraith Ripper
Corsair H115i
Enermax Liqtech 240 TR4 II

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20 comments
    Your comment
  • lperreault21
    so double the price per core with less than half the cores as the AMD equivalent, all within spitting distance in terms of performance, for a significantly more money, and no upgrade path on the socket (most likely) and a 4/5 ... wtf toms
  • rantoc
    How about just no for that price...
  • BulkZerker
    I'll pay about $950...
  • mikebabigian
    Does it fix all the Spectre problems? If not, then no way.
  • rs.anantmishra
    AMD's Ryzen Threadripper chips land quite a ways down our charts. With that said, we did test in AMD's recommended Game Mode.

    Does this turn off many of the TR's cores? If yes, then these benchmarks are no good right?
  • rs.anantmishra
    Also, why the hell this dude has included gaming benchmarks? This guy himself says that these are not gaming CPU's and then goes ahead and makes 3 of the 5 benchmark pages about gaming!!!!

    That's just super weird man! Are you sure what you're talking about???
  • rs.anantmishra
    This is just a terrible review. lol
  • velocityg4
    I'm curious as to why Adobe Premiere was not included in the Adobe tests? Premiere is one of the few Adobe programs which benefits from heavy multi-core performance. Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects are still mostly focused on one to a few cores.
  • pct8750
    Hi, Paul!
    Did Intel officially announce Skylake-X Refresh be manufactured on 14++ node?
    9980XE Stepping is the same as 7980XE.
    Stepping is 4, there is no change.
  • Kaz_2_
    Biased whole tome article dedicate to intel. This should be rated 2/5 like linus tech has said
  • Kaz_2_
    Biased whole tome article dedicate to intel. This should be rated 2/5 like linus tech has said
  • Kridian
    I will pay approximately... 1 U.S. dollar for this.
  • PaulAlcorn
    2679421 said:
    AMD's Ryzen Threadripper chips land quite a ways down our charts. With that said, we did test in AMD's recommended Game Mode. Does this turn off many of the TR's cores? If yes, then these benchmarks are no good right?


    Accepted, and recommended, practice when benching Threadripper chips. There would be a lot more to complain about if we didn't flip them into game mode.
  • PaulAlcorn
    2800811 said:
    Hi, Paul! Did Intel officially announce Skylake-X Refresh be manufactured on 14++ node? 9980XE Stepping is the same as 7980XE. Stepping is 4, there is no change.


    Intel confirmed that it is in fact 14nm++.
  • PaulAlcorn
    2679421 said:
    Also, why the hell this dude has included gaming benchmarks? This guy himself says that these are not gaming CPU's and then goes ahead and makes 3 of the 5 benchmark pages about gaming!!!! That's just super weird man! Are you sure what you're talking about???


    As did all other reviewers. Because this chip is aimed at gamers, too.
  • PaulAlcorn
    112024 said:
    I'm curious as to why Adobe Premiere was not included in the Adobe tests? Premiere is one of the few Adobe programs which benefits from heavy multi-core performance. Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects are still mostly focused on one to a few cores.


    We use the integrated PCMark 8 test that runs the suite. however, it does not include Premiere.
  • rs.anantmishra
    @Paul - Accepted, and recommended, practice when benching Threadripper chips. There would be a lot more to complain about if we didn't flip them into game mode.

    Wow your answer is so specific and it totally answers the questions I asked you. pffffft.. Sheer Incompetence.
  • PaulAlcorn
    2679421 said:
    @Paul - Accepted, and recommended, practice when benching Threadripper chips. There would be a lot more to complain about if we didn't flip them into game mode. Wow your answer is so specific and it totally answers the questions I asked you. pffffft.. Sheer Incompetence.

    The AMD processors wouldn't perform as well if we toggled off game mode and tested the AMD processors. Hence, AMD created the game mode to boost performance in latency-sensitive applications, such as games.
  • operativez
    Notice how every single review of the i9-9980XE is only being benched @ 1080p when it comes to games? Isn't this suspicious? Is it because Threadripper can beat this CPU @ 1440p and 4K when it comes to gaming?
  • Mike Coberly
    So double the price per core with less than half the cores as the AMD equivalent, all within spitting distance in terms of performance, for a significantly more money, and no upgrade path on the socket (most likely) and a 4/5 ... wtf Toms...

    ^^^Exactly what he/she said.