Intel Core i9-7980XE - More Cores For You

Today we are able to show you the benchmark results for the Intel Core i9-7980XE Skylake-X processor, which is Intel's High-End Desktop Platform (HEDT) 18-core, 36-thread CPU (2.6 GHz base/4.4 GHz Boost 3.0/24.75 MB Cache) that costs $1999. This is the first 18-core desktop processor from either AMD or Intel and is Intel's highest-performance processor for advanced gaming, VR and content creation. Intel also claims that the Core i9-7980XE is the first 1-teraflop consumer processor, so this processor should take multi-core performance to the next level and eat up multi-threaded applications that can take advantage of this many cores. Intel Core i9-7900X Retail Box Processor Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X Desktop CPU Lineup
SKU Name Cores/Threads Base Clock Turbo Boost 2.0 Turbo Boost 3.0 L3 Cache TDP PCIe Lanes Price (USD)
Core i9-7980XE 18/36 2.6 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.4 GHz 24.75 MB 165W 44 $1,999
Core i9-7960X 16/32 2.8 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.4 GHz 22 MB 165W 44 $1,699
Core i9-7940X 14/28 3.1 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.4 GHz 19.25 MB 165W 44 $1,399
Core i9-7920X 12/24 2.9 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.4 GHz 16.5 MB 140W 44 $1,199
Core i9-7900X 10/20 3.3 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.5 GHz 13.75 MB 140W 44 $963
Core i7-7820X 8/16 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.5 GHz 11 MB 140W 28 $580
Core i7-7800X 6/12 3.5 GHz 4.0 GHz N/A 8.25MB 140W 28 $367
Core i7-7740X 4/8 4.3 GHz 4.5 GHz N/A 8MB 112W 16 $320
Core i7-7640X 4/4 4.0 GHz 4.2 GHz N/A 6MB 112W 16 $230
The Intel Core i9-7980XE has a base clock frequency of 2.6GHz with a Turbo Boost 2.0 clock of 4.2GHz and a Turbo Boost 3.0 clock of 4.4GHz. The 7980XE has 44 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 24.75 MB of L3 cache and has a TDP of 165 Watts. The reduction of L3 cache and increase in the L2 cache might throw a few people off. The Intel engineering team thought it was time to re-balance the smart cache hierarchy on Skylake-X due to where they believe the software market is headed. Intel increased the L2 cache size from 256KB to 1MB per core while the L3 cache has gone from an inclusive to a non-inclusive format. This change will help some workloads while some might actually see a performance decrease. Intel Skylake-X desktop processors are the first to support the AVX-512 instruction set, so it is highly likely that these changes were brought to optimize for how those workloads are handled. Intel 7980XE Stock CPU-Z If you happen to have one of these processors you can open up a free utility called CPU-Z to find the best two cores as they are highlighted in red. On our Intel Core i9-7980XE processor the two best cores just happen to be core #1 and core #9. Knowing this information might come in handy when overclocking on a per core basis versus leaving all cores the same and just cranking up the CPU multiplier. Intel 7980XE Best Cores Let's move onto the benchmarks after looking at the test systems on the next page.

Our CPU Test Systems

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update 1607 build 14393.10 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We tested on seven different desktop platforms (Intel Z77, Intel Z97, Intel Z270, Intel X99, Intel X299, AMD AM3+ and AMD AM4) in this article, so we'll just quickly touch on each as all shared common parts (CPU Cooler, Video Card, SSD, Power Supply) and only differed in the board, processor, memory kit and memory timings. Intel X299 Platform: The Intel X299 platform that we used for testing consisted of the ASUS X299 Deluxe motherboard. The Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4000MHz DDR4 dual channel memory kit was manually set to 3000MHz with 15-15-15-36 1T memory timings as we wanted to test with one of the most popular clock frequencies sold today. We used an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition video card with GeForce 376.33 WHQL drivers for all of the systems. We also used the Corsair AX860i digital power supply, Corsair Hydro Series H115iwater cooler and Crucial MX300 1050GB SSD. Intel Z270 Platform: The Intel Z270 platform that we used to test the Intel 1151 processors was running the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 5 with UEFI F5e that came out on 12/28/2016. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 4000MHz DDR4 dual channel memory kit was manually set to 3000MHz with 15-15-15-36 1T memory timings as we wanted to test with one of the most popular clock frequencies sold today. We used an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition video card with GeForce 376.33 WHQL drivers for all of the systems. We also used the Corsair AX860i digital power supply, Corsair Hydro Series H105 water cooler and Crucial MX300 1050GB SSDs on all of the desktop systems.
Intel LGA1151 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-7700K

Motherboard

Gigabyte Z270X-Gaming 5 Click Here

Memory

16GB Vengeance 3000MHz DDR4 Click Here

Video Card

GeForce GTX 1080 FE Click Here

Hard Drive

Crucial MX300 1050GB Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H105 Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K70 RGB Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M65 Pro Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i Click Here

Monitor

ASUS VE278Q 27" Click Here

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit Click Here
Intel Z97 Platform: The Intel Z97 platform that we used to test the Intel 1150 processors was running the ASUS Z97-A motherboard with BIOS 2801 that came out on 11/15/2015. The Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB 2400 MHz DDR3 memory kit was set to 11-11-11-28 1T memory timings. Intel Z77 Platform: The Intel Z77 platform that we used to test the Intel 1155 processors was running the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H (rev 1.0) motherboard with BIOS F16h that came out on 07/11/2016. The Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB 2133 MHz DDR3 memory kit was set to 10-11-10-28 1T memory timings. Intel X99 Platform: The Intel X99 platform we picked to use for the LGA2011-v3 processors was the ASUS X99-E-10G WS board with BIOS 0403 and that is the initial release UEFI as no newer version has come out since the introduction of that board in 2016. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 4000MHz DDR4 dual channel memory kit was manually set to 3000MHz with 15-15-15-36 1T memory timings. AMD AM3+  Platform: The AMD AM3+ platform that we used to test the AM3+ processors featured the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Killer  motherboard with BIOS 1.60 that came out on 01/14/2016. The Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB 2400 MHz DDR3 memory kit was set to 10-11-10-28 1T memory timings. Laptops:  Just for fun we also included Dell XPS 13 9350 and Dell Dell XPS 13 9360 laptop results! These are retail Dell laptops with clean installs of Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update 1607 build 14393.10 installed for comparison to the desktop platforms. Let's take a look at overclocking and move onto the benchmarks!

Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks

SiSoftware Sandra 2016 SP3 Memory Bandwidth: link

SiSoftware Sandra 2016 is a utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks. This test has been popular for CPU and memory benchmarks for well over a decade and it is one of the easiest benchmarks out there to run. Memory Bandwidth Results Summary: The Intel Core i9-7900X with the Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000MHz memory kit with CL15 timings gave us about 57 GB/s of memory bandwidth on Sandra. Not enough to be the fastest on our charts, but nothing to complain about.

Real World Benchmarks

Dolphin 5.0 x64 Emulator Benchmark: link

The long awaited Dolphin 5.0 release happened in 2016 and thanks to a major cleaning up of the codebase Dolphin has reached a new level of efficiency, powered by a revitalized dynamic recompiler. Dolphin is considered by many to be the best Nintendo Wii emulator for PC you can find. It also works for Gamecube. We are running the official Dolphin 5.0 benchmark as it offers closer mapping to real world Dolphin performance as the previous version was extremely floating point heavy. We feel this is a pretty good general CPU benchmark for real world performance as emulation workloads are something that most gamers will run at one point or another.  We benchmark the standard Wii homebrew application and run it with the speed limit set to 'unlimited' and the External Frame Buffer set to 'real' in case you wanted to run this on your personal system.

Agisoft Photoscan 1.2.6 x64 - 2D to 3D Image Manipulation Benchmark: link

Agisoft PhotoScan is a stand-alone software product that performs photogrammetric processing of 2D digital images and generates 3D spatial data to be used in GIS applications, cultural heritage documentation, and visual effects production as well as for indirect measurements of objects of various scales. We us the 50 images from the 'Building' sample data download page for our benchmark. We take the total time it takes to complete four steps: Align Photos, Build Dense Cloud, Build Model, Build Texture with all the default settings for each.

KeyShot 6.3 - 3D Rendering and Animation: link

KeyShot 3D rendering and animation software is one of the fastest, easiest way to create amazing, photographic visuals of your 3D data. We installed KeyShot 6.3 to do some benchmarking and real-world stress testing using the camera_benchmark.bip scene that is included with the application. This benchmark tests a 800x554 pixel image with a continuous sample rate and shows the Frames Per Second (FPS) that the scene is being rendered from. This scene has nearly 42,000 triangles and does a good job at using all available cores to render the scene.

Blender 2.78a Open Source 3D Creation Benchmark: link

Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. We use the BMW CPU Benchmark (CCO, 3MB) created by Mike Pan for our testing. Real World Benchmark Results Summary: When it comes to our 'real world' benchmark tests we found the Intel Core i9-7980XE had some mixed results just like the Core i9-7900X that we looked at months ago. It dominated our Blender and Keyshot benchmarks, but fell short of the Core i7-6950X in Photoscan. The Dolphin emulator benchmark is very lightly threaded and core clock plays a huge roll in that benchmark, so it isn't a big surprise that the 7980XE didn't take the lead in that scenario.

Media Encoding & Encryption Benchmarks

HandBrake v1.0.1 - link

HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It is popular today as it allows you to transcode multiple input video formats to h.264 output format and is highly multithreaded. We used Big Buck Bunny as our input file, which has become one of the world standards for video benchmarks. For our benchmark scenario we used a standard 2D 4K (3840x2160) 60 FPS clip in the MP4 format and used Handbrake version 1.0.1 to do two things. We used the new Fast 1080p30 preset to shrink that down to a 1920 x 1080 video clip to reduce the file size. This is something people often do to save space to put movies onto mobile devices. We also ran the workload using the normal preset as it puts the CPU at a higher load than the Fast 1080p30 preset as it keeps it at 4K.

X264 HD Encoding - link

the x264 HD Benchmark is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It’s nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other. We are using x264 HD v5.0.1 for this test.

Cinegy Cinescore 10.4 Professional Video Encoding Benchmark:

The broadcast and media industry needs benchmarks that are meaningful and relevant. Cinegy Cinescore uses many commonly used professional quality codecs to measure the encoding speed of a system. This sets expectations of how many channels a given machine can capture, how suitable it is for e.g. UHD editing, or which speed can be expected to do transcode jobs. Cinegy Cinescore covers a fair number of commonly used formats and codecs and measures the encoding speed as well as the system load for doing that for the different target resolutions - HD, UHD and 8K. Media Encoding Benchmark Results Summary: One might have expected a blow out for the Intel Core i9-7980XE in these tests, but the 7980XE didn't was behind the AMD Threadripper 1950X in Handbrake and barely ahead in the x264 behcmark. The new Cingey Cinescore benchmarks that we just added to our test suite in our AMD Threadripper review to show 8K video results showed that the Intel Core i9-7980XE was able to beat the AMD Threadripper 1950X at 1080P, 4K and 8K!

VeraCrypt 1.19 - link

VeraCrypt is an open-source disk encryption software brought to you by IDRIX and is a fork based on the discontinued TrueCrypt 7.1a utility. The developers claim that weaknesses found in TrueCrypt have been resolved with the VeraCrypt project. This is a popular utility used by people that don't want to use Microsoft's built-in encyption tool for Windows 10 called Bitlocker. Encryption Benchmark Results Summary: If encryption is something you do, you'll find having more cores and threads to be very beneficial as you can see from the results above. The Intel Core i9-7980XE has more cores than anything else we have ever tested, so it is an easy win.

3DMark & Cinebench

Futuremark 3DMark 2.2.3509 - link

3DMark is a popular gaming performance benchmark that includes everything you need to benchmark your PC whether you're gaming on a desktop PC, laptop, notebook, or a tablet. 3DMark includes seven benchmark tests and we'll be running 'Sky Diver' that is aimed at gaming laptops and mid-range PCs.

Maxon Cinebench R15.038 - link 

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software Cinema 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more. 3DMark and Cinebench Benchmarks Results Summary: The Intel Core i9-7980XE has the highest 3DMark Fire Strike Physics and Cinebench R15 multi-CPU score that we have ever seen. The Intel Core i9-7980XE is a beast!

Discrete GPU Gaming Performance

Thief

Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014. We picked this game title for CPU testing as it is known to scale well with CPUs. We use the games built-in benchmark and test with the default settings with these changes; exclusive fullscreen, vSync off, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, Mankind Divided features the return of Adam Jensen from the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with new technology and body augmentations. The game was released on August 23rd, 2016 for PC users and we are using it to show DX12 performance on the CPUs that we tested. DX12 removed most all of the CPU overhead, so we wanted to see what happens to performance on DX12 game titles as well. We use the games built-in benchmark and test with the default settings with these changes; DX12 enabled, exclusive fullscreen, vSync off, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, medium graphics. Discrete Gaming Benchmarks Results Summary: Gaming performance hasn't been anything to write home about on recent mega-core processors, but gaming performance was smooth. You can run multiple streams and game at the same time with more than acceptable frame rates, so it can game! 

Power Consumption

No review is complete without taking a look at power and the Intel Core i9-7980XE did fairly well considering it is an 10-core processor with a 140W TDP. At idle the Intel Core i9-7900X Skylake-X platform used 92.3W at idle and that is impressive as includes the ASUS X299 motherboard,  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 FE video card, SATA III SSD and the Corsair Hydro water cooler. The processor topped out at 222W in Handbrake and 320W when playing Thief at 1080P.

Intel Core i9-7980XE Temperatures

We fired up the AIDA64 System Stability Test for 20 minutes and found that we had an idle temp of 30C and a load temp of 41C on the CPU. AIDA64 can only show up to 12 cores, so we weren't able to monitor each core individually. If you look at the individual core temperatures they ranged from 20C all they way up to 48C. We tired to look at CPU Package power numbers, but HWiNFO64, AIDA64 and CPUID HWMonitor all showed the package power incorrectly. We reached out to the developers of AIDA64 and they will take a look into this next week after they are back from holiday. Let's overclock this bad boy!

Intel Core i9-7980XE Overclocking

When it comes to overclocking the Intel Core i9-7980XE we were delighted to find that the ASUS X299 Deluxe motherboard made that task easy. We managed to get into Windows 10 at 5.0GHz with just one change in the UEFI. All we did was set the UEFI to sync all cores and set the multiplier to 50x! The board automatically changed the core voltage from 1.35V to 1.40V by doing this. 7980x overclocked to 5000mhz Sadly, we couldn't get 5GHz on a closed loop liquid cooler 100 percent stable, so we backed it down to 4.9GHz and started running some benchmarks. How does 4,740 cb sound in Cinebench R15 on the CPU test and 220 cb on the single core test? This is the highest Cinebench R15 score that we have gotten in-house! As you can see the score of 4,740 is miles ahead of anything else tested and we even tossed in the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor with all cores overclocked up to 4.1GHz. We were with AMD when they used LN2 to get Threadripper up to 5.1GHz on 16-cores and they got a Chinebench R15 score of 4,122. We just blew that score away with an off the shelf liquid cooler and one small UEFI change. Our VeryaCrypt AES Encryption score went from 23.7 GB/s all the way up to 33.8 GB/s, so overclocking the 7980XE gave us mind blowing results! On Keyshot we went from 303 FPS to 431 FPS, so overclocking was super fun on the 7980XE. While we could get 4900 MHz stable for most benchmarks, it wasn't stable for video editing or long periods of gaming. For that we had to drop it down to 4.4 GHz. The other thing we noticed with overclocking is that the power consumption was ridiculous. We went from 92 Watts and idle and 268 Watts while running Cinebench in stock form to idling at 169 Watts and hitting 845 Watts in Cinebench! The Intel Core i9-7980XE is rated at 165 Watts, but you can clearly see that overclocking takes it well beyond this. AIDA64 showed CPU temps to be reaching 63C during out benchmarking, which was also up significantly from the 41C we noted at stock clocks. Actual power consumption varied according to load, but ensure your power supplies EPS 12V line can supply at least 10% more current than the load. For any load greater than 230 Watts we were told by ASUS that we should provide some active cooling to the boards VRM heatsink. We are drawing well over 500 Watts on the 12V power rail, so we provided active cooling and in fact had to switch power supplies. We noticed that while running 4900MHz some applications (Keyshot for example) was pulling over 860 Watts from the wall and other applications would pull around that and then crash. We swapped out our Corsair AX860i Digital ATX Power Supply with a 1000 Watt model and stability of our overclock improved and some of the scores actually went up at 4900MHz. Keep in mind that we were pulling over 860 Watts with the CPU at 100% load and the GeForce GTX 1080 at 0% load. If you plan on overclocking one of these platforms and putting the GPU and CPU at load you'll need well over a 1000W power supply to do so! Let's wrap up this review on the Intel Core i9-7980XE processor!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The Intel Core i9-7980XE processor for the Intel X299 LGA2066 platform is clearly aimed at someone that needs a multi-threading machine. This is the first 18-core consumer desktop processor! We saw some of the highest results in our multi-threaded tests with this processor and it beat AMD's flagship Threadripper 1950X in many benchmarks. Overclocking performance on the Core i9-7980XE was jaw dropping to say the least. We didn't expect to get into Windows at 5GHz let alone run benchmarks at 4.9GHz, so being able to get that high with an off the shelf AIO liquid cooler was awesome. Power consumption in stock form was surprisingly good, but when you overclock the 7980XE the power efficiency goes out the window and this baby sucks down power better than any processor we've ever seen before. Intel Core i9-7900X Retail Box Processor We've never talked about price per core before when it comes to CPU reviews, but with this many cores it might be fun to look at. Intel Core i7-7700K 4-core = $299 ($74.75 per core) Intel Core i9-7900X 10-core  = $963 ($96.30 per core) Intel Core i9-7980XE 18-core = $1999 ($111.05 per core) AMD Threadripper 1950X 16-core = $999 ($62.44 per core) The Intel Core i9-7980XE at two thousand dollars is going to be out of reach for many, but when you look at it on a per core basis the price isn't that bad. The C0re i9-7980XE comes out cost just over $111 per core, a much higher cost than AMD's just over $62 per core cost on the Threadripper 1950X processor. Intel also offers the Core i9-7920X (12-core, 24-thread at $1,199), the Core i9-7940X (14-core, 28-thread at $1,399) and Core i9-7960X (16-core, 32-thread at $1,699) for those that aren't looking to spend that much, but still want a high core count Skylake-X processor.
Intel Core-X Series Specifications
Processor Cores/ Threads L3 Cache PCIe Lanes Base Clock Turbo Clock 2.0 Turbo Clock 3.0 Price
Core i9-7980XE
18C/36T
24.75 MB 44 2.6 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.4 GHz $1,999
Core i9-7960X
16C/32T
22 MB 44 2.8 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.4 GHz $1,699
Core i9-7940X
14C/28T
19.25 MB 44 3.1 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.4 GHz $1,399
Core i9-7920X
12C/24T
16.5 MB
44
2.9 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.4 GHz $1199
Core i9-7900X
10C/20T
13.75 MB
44
3.3 GHz
4.3 GHz
4.5 GHz
$999
Core i9-7820X
8C/16T
11 MB
28
3.6 GHz
4.3 GHz
4.5 GHz
$599
Core i9-7800X
6C/12T
8.25 MB
28
3.5 GHz
4.0 GHz
N/A $389
Core i7-7740K
4C/8T
8 MB
16
4.3 GHz
4.5 GHz
N/A $339
Core i5-7640K
4C/4T
6 MB
16
4.0 GHz
4.2 GHz
N/A $242
Intel set out to recapture the performance lead for the high-end desktop consumer market and they were able to do that in some the multi-threaded benchmarks in our test suite. The Core i9-7980XE didn't capture all the top spots though and that hurts when the Threadripper 1950X from AMD is $1000 less. Intel and AMD have most certainly made the multi-threaded benchmarks fun again and the competition between AMD and Intel will end up helping consumers at the end of the day. If you can afford one of the high core count Skylake-X processors we certainly recommend giving one a try. Stock the 7980XE is pretty quick, but the numbers we got with it overclocked are insane. LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line: The Intel Core i9-7980XE processor looks good and if you are a core crazy enthusiast with deep pockets this will be a fun processor to have!