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

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Rendering, Encoding and Compression


The 32C/64T Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX enjoys an uncontested core count advantage. Of course, as we've seen in the past, accesses from its remote memory controllers can affect performance in weird ways, depending on the metric. When the 2990WX can really utilize its array of execution resources, though, the competition gets stomped. 

Intel's Core i9-9980XE isn't as fast across heavily-threaded rendering tasks, but in our benchmarks that isolate single-threaded performance, it lands much higher compared to other high-end desktop processors.

Encoding and Compression

Our compression and decompression tests work directly from system memory, removing storage throughput from the equation.

Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX stretches its legs in the decompression test, but exhibits its bipolar personality during the compression workload. Core i9-9980XE, on the other hand, is impressive in the compression test, largely because AMD's highest-end Threadripper processors are handicapped by memory throughput issues. The Core i9 fares well in decompression workloads as well.

y-cruncher, a single- and multi-threaded program that computes pi, is a great test for evaluating AVX-optimized performance. Intel’s Core i9-9980XE employs two 256-bit FMA units per core that operate in parallel, whereas Ryzen's Zen architecture divides 256-bit AVX operations across two 128-bit FMA units per core. Intel's AVX instruction support shines during the single-threaded benchmark, though the -9980XE only improves by ~4 percent over the -7980XE. We logged the same performance for both processors during the multi-threaded y-cruncher benchmark. However, both processors dropped to the same all-core 2.8 GHz AVX-512 offset during the test.

While our HandBrake x264 benchmark also leverages AVX instructions, the x265 test has a heavier distribution of the densely-packed instructions. Intel's HEDT Core i9 processors lead the pack in both workloads.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

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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