It’s been a crazy year in the CPU market, with that craziness also pushing the rest of the market as well. Back in June Intel introduced their new Core-X line of CPUs as well as the X299 chipset. That launch was missing the top portion of their CPU lineup though. The increased competition and the surprise announcement from AMD of Threadripper seems to of prompted Intel to expand on their planned lineup. They added four more CPUs up above the i9-7900X with 12, 14, 16, and 18 cores. Well, the wait is over, they are available and today I’m going to check out the top two that Intel sent over. The i9-7980XE is Intel’s new flagship CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads with the i9-7960X just behind it with 16 cores and 32 threads. Let's see what they have to offer across a range of tests.

Product Name: Intel i9-7980XE and i9-7960X

Review samples provided for testing by: Intel

Written by: Wes Compton

Pictures by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: i9-7980XE and i9-7960X

 

Core X, Again

Well with the original Core X launch I did sit down and run through what was introduced with X299 and the new CPUs. Today I’m just focusing on the four CPUs that didn’t have details at the time. That would be the i9-7980XE, the i9-7960X, the i9-7940X, and the i97920X. All four are positioned above the original flagship, the 7900X as you can tell with their naming. All four add to the core count totals as well. So the 7900X was a 10 core 20 thread CPU. But now Intel has 12, 14, 16, and 18 core count options, all with hyperthreading as well. To pull that off the clock speeds are interesting. The base clock of the 7900X was 3.3 and all four drop down to lower base clock speeds with the 7920X being the only oddball here that is running at a lower speed than the 7940X above it. Even at 2.6, the 7980XE doesn’t have a super low clock speed, this is still better than a lot of the older high core count Xeons. But Intel leans on Turbo Boost 2 and 3 to make up the speed. So the 7980XE still has a Turbo Boost 2 clock speed of 4.2 GHz and a Turbo Boost 3 clock speed of 4.4 GHz. Less multi-threaded software still gets the high clock speeds that it needs. Unlike clock speeds, as the core count goes up the L3 Cache goes up at all going from the 13.75 MB of the 7900X to 24.75 MB on the 7980XE.

At least Intel didn’t mess with PCI lanes here, all four CPUs have the same 44 lanes that the 7900X has. The same goes for the quad channel memory, though I think it is crazy we have to even worry that any of the CPUs on a platform that supports quad channel might not have it. Then for TDP, the 7920X has the same 140 TDP and the other three are bumped up to 165 watts. Who would have thought that we would be back to crazy power draw again!

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How does this compare to Threadripper? Well, Threadripper is available in a 16/32, 12/24, and 8/16 offerings. The 1950X with its 16/32 core/thread count does have a higher base clock speed (3.2 vs 2.8)than the 7690X that is comparable to but it has a lower boost speed (4.0 vs 4.4). The 1950X has more cache as well and all Threadripper CPUs have more PCIe Lanes at 64. The TDP is higher and the TR price is lower. Sadly I don’t have one to see how they actually compare though even after bugging AMD for months now about it.

Intel’s with the i9-7980XE is that it has the highest core count in a consumer-focused product and with 18 cores and 36 threads it is a monster. For me, the biggest selling point though is all of the other Intel tech that works with it. Optane is really cool though I don’t see people needing to worry about it at this performance level. But thunderbolt/Type-C support is huge to me. 

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So Intel sent two CPUs for me to check out. The i9-7980XE is the flagship and then they also included the i9-7960X as well that is positioned core count wise with the 1950X from AMD. Sadly they just come in basic protective boxes like other engineering samples. I’ve been getting spoiled by getting retail packaging along with some of these other launches. Especially with Threadripper going crazy with their packaging. It would have been cool to at least get one of the black i9 boxes with the Miami Vice color scheme.

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If you haven’t seen a 2066 socket CPU before they aren’t any larger than LGA 2011 but they look huge compared to an Intel 1151 CPU. Of course, TH4 (Threadripper) on the other hand makes these look tiny. But it does make it seem even more impressive that Intel packed in 18 cores into one and 16 into the other.

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Test Rig and Procedures

Intel Z270 Test System

Motherboard

Asus X299 ROG Rampage VI Apex

Live Pricing

Cooling

Noctua NH-U12S for cooling

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

Live Pricing

Live Pricing

Memory

Kingston 2666 MHz DDR4 Fury quad channel 4x8Gb

Live Pricing

Storage

Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD

Live Pricing

Video Card

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

Live Pricing

Power Supply

Thermaltake 850w

Live Pricing

Case

Dimastech Test Bench

Live Pricing

OS

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Live Pricing

CPU Testing Procedures

Team Fortress 2

1080p – high, very high, high, reflect world, high, enabled, 8x msaa, x16, multicore on. Testing is then run with this benchmark

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

1080p – Standard quality setting, DX12, built in benchmark on the CPU-focused setting

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Built-in Benchmark, 1080p, High detail setting

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

1080p – Ultra Setting – DX11 – Vsync Turned off using built-in benchmark

Dolphin 5.0 Benchmark

For information on configuration, view this thread

3DMark Fire Strike

Physics Score – Performance benchmark

7-Zip

Built-in benchmark set to 32MB, run 4 passes

Jetstream

https://browserbench.org/JetStream/

wPrime

1024M

X264 HD Benchmark

Pass 1 and Pass 2

Cinebench R15

CPU and CPU (Single Core results)

Passmark 8

CPU Mark Score

PCMark 10

Normal test ran, not the express or extended

AIDA64

Memory, Cache, and FLOPS testing done with built-in GPGPU and Memory benchmarks

Power Usage

Idle and load testing using a Kill-A-Watt and wPrime to put the CPU under load

Temps

Aida64 stability test to load and to record temperature readings

 


CPU Performance

For performance testing, I tested both the 7980XE and the 7960X against all of the CPUs that I have recently tested. This includes almost the entire Ryzen range with the exception of the Threadripper CPUs and past and present Intel CPUs as well including most of the Core-X lineup all the way down to the i5. To start my testing off I tested how both CPUs performed in X264 HD Benchmark as it encoded video. The results are the frame rate in which they encode so the higher the score the better. The 7960X is in light blue and the 7890XE is in orange. As you can see this benchmark does like additional cores up to a point, but in the end clock speeds still dominate so the lower overall base clock on both CPUs hurt their scores with the 7980XE coming in lower than the 7960X even.

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My next test was Cinebench R15, these are always my favorite benchmarks because it is the only test that tests both multi-core performance along with single core performance. In the single-core test the higher clock speed of the 7960X helped put it up higher in the charts but the now old 7700K Is still at the top of the charts here. The 7980XE was all the way down below just about every other current Intel SKU but still above all of the Ryzen CPUs. The Multi-Core performance though really blew my mind. It's not often that new scores completely skew the charts but look just how far ahead both the 7980XE and the 7960X are ahead of the rest of the CPUs tested. Given that both still had fast per core scores they really dominated when they could take advantage of their 16 and 18 cores. Even the 7900X looks slow in comparison.

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My next two tests seem a little different but are both math based. wPrime tests how quickly you can computer Pi, in this case to 1.024 billion decimals. Once again the high core count puts both CPUs in their own class, even when compared to the rest of the Core-X CPUs. Then in 7-Zip, we are checking encoding and decoding performance at a 32MB file size (the stock setting). This is also a highly multi-threaded workload and it shows, once again completely skewing the charts with both the 7890XE and 7960X towering above everything else.

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Now moving on to more real world loads I tested using the browser based JetStream benchmark that tests various HTML5 and Java loads and averages everything together. As you can see, browsing is going to be more clock speed dependent. So while the 7960X didn’t too bad the 7980XE fell behind and the 7700K is still the top dog here.

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For my next test I wanted to get one last synthetic test in, but one that tests every aspect and averages it all out so I ran them through Passmarks Performance Test 9 for just the CPU score. Some of these benchmarks are core count favoring and others favor clock speeds but on average the 7980XE and 7960X came in nearly the same and up above everything else.

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Then back to real-world uses I really like PCMark 10’s testing. They test using real programs that most people use every day to get their scores. Tests include the internet, videos, word and excel, photo editing, etc. Here, like in our browser test, the higher base clock speeds of the 7960X helped push it up higher than the 7980XE putting it just behind the 7700K.

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To start off gaming testing I used two synthetic loads. Dolphin 5.0 Benchmark, a Wii emulator and then 3DMark Fire Strike. In Dolphin 5.0 a lower score is better as it is the number of seconds it took to complete the test. Once again this is a test that favors clock speeds and because of that, the 7960X did better than the 7980XE as did most of the lower end Core-X CPUs and the 7700K. Even then they were still much better than the Ryzen scores. In 3DMark core count helps more, putting both CPUs up top though I was still surprised to see the 7960X out ahead of the 7980XE on this one. It seems the 7960X higher base clock combined with being very close in core count seems to average out better in tests that like high clock speeds but still support more cores.

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My last few tests were just taking a look at a mix of games for in game performance. I didn’t cover the same range of games that I test with video card reviews, but I did mix things up with Ashes of the Singularity that is highly CPU dependent and new, a less CPU dependent game with Ghost Recon: Wildlands, the old but still popular TF2, and then Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. This way I had old and new games and CPU dependent and non-dependent games. The end result was both being up near the top of the charts in AotS but the 7960X once again slipping into the lead. Ghost Recon: Wildlands showed that the performance gap between current Intel CPUs was very small but Ryzen is still behind. TF2 just loved clock speeds, especially from the Intel CPUs where you see a big range in FPS depending on what CPU you have. Then with Deus Ex, the gap is really small, even down to the slowest CPUs. Ryzen is still slower and the 7980XE is king here but the difference isn’t worth worrying about. In the end, it really depends on the game you are playing but overall Intel CPUs did really well with the higher clock speed CPUs normally being the better bet for gaming.

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My last batch of testing was in ADI64 and frankly even just from the two CPUs I ended up with more data than I could graph so I put everything together in the table below. Dig through it at your own risk. When combined with all of the other CPUs I have tested in the last two months it ends up being WAY too much to sort through. To keep things short, the Core-X CPUs that support quad channel memory have great memory read and write speeds and Ryzen CPUs do better than Intel’s dual channel memory CPUs in that regard. The Cache performance of the 7980XE and 7960X are especially impressive due to their increased cache size. The same goes for their compute performance in every single one of those tests, in some cases being three or more times ahead of the 7700K and all of the Ryzen CPUs. Hell, the 7980XE is almost double the already fast 7900X.

CPU

Memory Read

Memory Write

Memory Latency

Intel Core i9-7980XE

77004 MB/s

68888 MB/s

73.4 ns

Intel Core i9-7960X

79416 MB/s

71554 MB/s

74.9 ns

Intel Core i7-7820X

76049 MB/s

73759 MB/s

71.6 ns

Intel Core i5-7640X

30786 MB/s

31888 MB/s

68.5 ns

Intel Core i9-7900X

76856 MB/s

72856 MB/s

72.8 ns

Intel Core i7-7740X

38455 MB/s

40596 MB/s

53.2 ns

Intel i7-6900K

66786 MB/s

68130 MB/s

61.9 ns

Intel i7-7700K

38498 MB/s

40448 MB/s

52.7 ns

Intel i7-5960X

66108 MB/s

49545 MB/s

62.8 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

44031 MB/s

43425 MB/s

81.8 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

44493 MB/s

43749 MB/s

78.3 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

45343 MB/s

43777 MB/s

82.6 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

44452 MB/s

43918 MB/s

83.7 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

44289 MB/s

43746 MB/s

83.1 ns

L1 Cache Read

L1 Cache Write

L1 Cache Latency

Intel Core i9-7980XE

3758.3 GB/s

1896.7 GB/s

1.1 ns

Intel Core i9-7960X

3532.3 GB/s

1785.2 GB/s

1.0 ns

Intel Core i7-7820X

1969.9 GB/s

995.02 GB/s

1.0 ns

Intel Core i5-7640X

1044.8 GB/s

31888 GB/s

1.0 ns

Intel Core i9-7900X

2418.5 GB/s

709.16 GB/s

1.0 ns

Intel Core i7-7740X

1102.7 GB/s

561.25 GB/s

0.9 ns

Intel i7-6900K

1963.9 GB/s

999.59 GB/s

1.0 ns

Intel i7-7700K

1114.6 GB/s

560.82 GB/s

0.9 ns

Intel i7-5960X

1748.5 GB/s

874.60 GB/s

1.2 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

917.46 GB/s

460.16 GB/s

1.1 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

867.89 GB/s

435.33 GB/s

1.2 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

793.90 GB/s

398.12 GB/s

1.3 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

689.47 GB/s

345.95 GB/s

1.1 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

446.84 GB/s

224.01 GB/s

1.1 ns

L2 Cache Read

L2 Cache Write

L2 Cache Latency

Intel Core i9-7980XE

1671.7 GB/s

1069.9 GB/s

5.6 ns

Intel Core i9-7960X

1571.6 GB/s

1003.5 GB/s

5.1 ns

Intel Core i7-7820X

884.63 GB/s

574.74 GB/s

5.6 ns

Intel Core i5-7640X

397.26 GB/s

247.00 GB/s

2.9 ns

Intel Core i9-7900X

1037.3 GB/s

521.94 GB/s

5.2 ns

Intel Core i7-7740X

424.55 GB/s

304.30 GB/s

2.7 ns

Intel i7-6900K

710.28 GB/s

310.34 GB/s

4.1 ns

Intel i7-7700K

415.45 GB/s

285.97 GB/s

2.7 ns

Intel i7-5960X

623.08 GB/s

272.77 GB/s

3.5 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

831.95 GB/s

446.37 GB/s

4.7 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

809.29 GB/s

419.38 GB/s

5.0 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

742.92 GB/s

389.73 GB/s

5.4 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

630.99 GB/s

334.93 GB/s

4.7 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

306.82 GB/s

211.58 GB/s

11.8 ns

L3 Cache Read

L3 Cache Write

L3 Cache Latency

Intel Core i9-7980XE

229.61 GB/s

118.40 GB/s

21.0 ns

Intel Core i9-7960X

220.22 GB/s

121.04 GB/s

19.8 ns

Intel Core i7-7820X

114.40 GB/s

103.57 GB/s

19.2 ns

Intel Core i5-7640X

228.31 GB/s

163.86 GB/s

11.1 ns

Intel Core i9-7900X

124.16 GB/s

106.78 GB/s

21.2 ns

Intel Core i7-7740X

287.01 GB/s

186.67 GB/s

21.2 ns

Intel i7-6900K

243.96 GB/s

195.41 GB/s

14.6 ns

Intel i7-7700K

234.50 GB/s

188.70 GB/s

10.4 ns

Intel i7-5960X

260.72 GB/s

184.92 GB/s

15.3 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

388.18 GB/s

386.01 GB/s

12.4 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

369.75 GB/s

350.31 GB/s

12.9 ns

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

334.36 GB/s

332.12 GB/s

14.2 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

386.48 GB/s

326.86 GB/s

12.3 ns

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

306.82 GB/s

211.58 GB/s

11.8 ns

Single-Precision FLOPS

Double Precision FLOPS

AES-256

Intel Core i9-7980XE

1831 GFLOPS

915.5 GFLOPS

69377 MB/s

Intel Core i9-7960X

1681 GFLOPS

840.6 GFLOPS

65409 MB/s

Intel Core i7-7820X

944.9 GFLOPS

472.5 GFLOPS

36420 MB/s

Intel Core i5-7640X

536.5 GFLOPS

268.2 GFLOPS

18547 MB/s

Intel Core i9-7900X

1148 GFLOPS

574.5 GFLOPS

45506 MB/s

Intel Core i7-7740X

575.4 GFLOPS

287.8 GFLOPS

20503 MB/s

Intel i7-6900K

1023 GFLOPS

511.7 GFLOPS

36340 MB/s

Intel i7-7700K

575.7 GFLOPS

287.9 GFLOPS

20519 MB/s

Intel i7-5960X

895.5 GFLOPS

447.7 GFLOPS

31783 MB/s

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

472.4 GFLOPS

236.2 GFLOPS

64016 MB/s

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

446.8 GFLOPS

223.4 GFLOPS

61730 MB/s

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

408.5 GFLOPS

204.3 GFLOPS

56811 MB/s

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

354.9 GFLOPS

177.5 GFLOPS

49340 MB/s

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

229.8 GFLOPS

114.8 GFLOPS

31983 MB/s

24-bit Integer IOPS

32-bit Integer IOPS

64-bit Integer IOPS

Intel Core i9-7980XE

821.2 GIOPS

821.3 GIOPS

121.6 GIOPS

Intel Core i9-7960X

754.0 GIOPS

753.9 GIOPS

114.7 GIOPS

Intel Core i7-7820X

423.7 GIOPS

423.7 GIOPS

63.85 GIOPS

Intel Core i5-7640X

238.1 GIOPS

138.1 GIOPS

33.53 GIOPS

Intel Core i9-7900X

515.1 GIOPS

515.0 GIOPS

79.76 GIOPS

Intel Core i7-7740X

258.1 GIOPS

258.0 GIOPS

35.97 GIOPS

Intel i7-6900K

255.9 GIOPS

255.9 GIOPS

63.96 GIOPS

Intel i7-7700K

258.0 GIOPS

258.0 GIOPS

35.98 GIOPS

Intel i7-5960X

223.9 GIOPS

223.9 GIOPS

55.97 GIOPS

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

118.1 GIOPS

118.1 GIOPS

59.03 GIOPS

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X

111.7 GIOPS

111.7 GIOPS

55.84 GIOPS

AMD Ryzen R7 1700

102.1 GIOPS

102.1 GIOPS

51.05 GIOPS

AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

88.74 GIOPS

88.73 GIOPS

44.34 GIOPS

AMD Ryzen R5 1500X

57.43 GIOPS

57.45 GIOPS

28.72 GIOPS

 


Power Usage and Temperatures

So believe it or not, but a lot of people do care how much power their PC is pulling. Especially in areas that have higher electric rates. This carries over into temperatures as well, the more heat a PC is putting out the more your AC has to work in the summer or the hotter your office is going to be overall. But with the 2017 CPU wars that all gets tossed to the side. This is really obvious in the power usage graphs where both CPUs tower above anything modern. For years now power usage has been dropping but these both pull more than the always hot FX-9590. Even the idle power draw is much higher as well. I was surprised to find that the 7960X pulls more power though. It is also interesting to look through the other Core-X CPUs and see just how big of a power range the motherboards have to plan for. With 287 under load and 92.7 being the peaks, you can also go down to 90.7 under load and 53.6 at idle with the i5-7640X.

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With that power draw, I was really worried about what kind of temps I would see. Surprisingly, even though I was testing using the same cooler across the board, some of Intel’s lower core count CPUs were higher up the charts here. The 7700K is still by far the hottest with the 7740X and its larger heat spreader coming in a little lower. Now that’s not to say that both don’t run warm, but I was originally worried about potentially packing the 7980XE into our Crush build but these numbers show that the 6900K that is currently in it actually runs warmer. Given that I have to run a smaller cooler in that build it might actually be an even bigger difference when all said and done.

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Overall and Final Verdict

Well one thing is for sure, you can’t call the new addition to the Core-X lineup slow. While I was only able to test two of the four new CPUs. Both were very impressive in just about every test I ran. It was especially impressive in the tests that are more core count dependent like the Cinebench Multi-Core benchmark where the i9-7980XE and i9-7960X made the numbers put up even by the i9-7900X look slow in comparison. Both did well, even in tests that are more clock speed focused but as expected the i7-7700K is still the top dog in those situations. Frankly, these CPUs are touching on the point of insanity. Truly putting to use 8 or 10 cores is difficult unless you are doing video rendering, putting both together to get 18 cores and 36 threads is crazy.

Of course with all of those cores, there is a power cost. The power usage on these topped the charts. So I was actually really surprised when I did our temperature testing and I found that they didn’t run as hot as expected. Now that’s not to say they run ice cold, but when compared to the 7700K they are running much cooler. Not what I expected with that 165-watt TDP. I think the most interesting thing I found though was while the i9-7980XE with its 18 core and 36 threads was a monster, the i9-7960X ended up outperforming it in a lot of the mixed loads. The extra .2 GHz on the base clock helped edge out better performance in a few different benchmarks.

So the performance is great, but I already know what most people are going to be talking about. At $1699 the i9-7960X almost beats out the $1723 MSRP of the i7-6950X and the $1999 price tag on the i9-7980XE puts itself firmly in as the most expensive consumer CPU sold. Even ignoring AMD’s Threadripper, those two price tags are a lot more than a full high-end gaming PC. Frankly, that isn’t really the audience. The entire top end of Core-X as a whole isn’t really focused on people looking for performance/value. These are high-end CPUs designed for people who don’t find a $5k-$10k PC to be a big deal or people who need the absolute cutting edge for what they are working on. To put it in car terms, someone might be looking at the $2.6 million dollars Bugatti Chiron where most of us would be much better served with a Skyline.

Now then we have to take into account Threadripper and just looking at the spec sheet AMD is walking away with the value wins here. Though I consider the size of Threadripper to be a downside in this situation, LGS 2066 supports all of the heatsinks and water coolers that have been out for years on LGA 2011. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to test them out as well so I can’t comment on the performance comparison between these new CPUs and Threadripper. But I do wish these CPUs were coming in a little closer than twice the price of what AMD has to offer. But as it sits, while expensive, the new Core-X CPUs are monsters and a big step forward from the X99 platform in performance and core count.

fv57980xe

Living Pricing: HERE

 

fv57960x

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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