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

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Office and Productivity

Adobe Creative Cloud

Even though this suite has a few parallelized workloads, its final score is heavily influenced by the lightly-threaded tasks common in most desktop applications.

In light of an aggressive 4.5 GHz Turbo Boost frequency and a significant IPC advantage over AMD's Ryzen family, the Core i9-9980XE doesn't fare as well as we expected in these Creative Cloud tasks. It even takes a nosedive in the threaded InDesign workload.

Intel did reorganize its cache hierarchy and moved to a more scalable mesh interconnect with the first-gen Skylake-X processors. Of course, those changes persist through the Skylake-X refresh. While the company's architectural modifications yield big gains in certain enterprise applications, we've also seen the tweaks hurt performance elsewhere. These benchmarks quantify Skylake-X's weaknesses.

Web Browser

The Krakken suite evaluates JavaScript performance using several workloads, including audio, imaging, and cryptography. Like most Web browser workloads, single-threaded performance reigns supreme.

The Core i9-9980XE still doesn't do particularly well, but it's at least competitive through this collection of Web browser benchmarks. High stock clock rates allow Intel's chips to distance themselves from AMD's competing models, though the difference is much smaller than its used to be thanks to improvements made in second-gen Ryzen CPUs.


The application start-up metric measures load time snappiness in word processors, GIMP, and Web browsers under warm- and cold-start conditions. Other platform-level considerations affect this test as well, including the storage subsystem. Core i9-9900K remains a winner, while the -9980XE demonstrates a 7 percent generational improvement. 

Our video conferencing suite measures performance in single- and multi-user applications that utilize the Windows Media Foundation for playback and encoding. It also performs facial detection to model real-world usage. Mainstream processors offer the best value in these types of applications, but Ryzen Threadripper 2950X is an incredible value for enthusiasts with a focus on productivity.

The photo editing benchmark measures performance with Futuremark's binaries using the ImageMagick library. Common photo processing workloads also tend to be parallelized, which explains why the 2950X fares so well. It costs less than half of a Core i9-9980XE but offers an ideal experience.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • 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