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Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition review: Just more of the same

By Koh Wanzi - 25 Nov 2019


Click to view larger image. (Image Source: Intel)

Slightly faster, but not much else

The Intel Core i9-10980XE is just a slightly faster, and vastly cheaper, version of the Core i9-9980XE. This makes it a much better chip from a value standpoint, but it doesn't do a lot to shake the prevailing narrative that Intel is floundering and failing to provide attractive alternatives to AMD. The 18-core Cascade Lake-X chip is still based on the 14nm process, and other than the higher supported memory frequency and clock speeds, it really doesn't bring anything new to the table in terms of performance.

To be fair, it's not a bad chip per se. It serves up good multi-threaded performance with 18 cores and is no slouch in games either. However, at US$979, it's still more expensive than the US$749 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X, and that is still technically a mainstream chip from AMD. If you want to compare HEDT platforms, the Core i9-10980XE should be pit against AMD's Threadripper 3000 processors, which start at a 24-core part and top out at 32 cores.

Either way, Intel is caught in an awkward position, with AMD's mainstream Ryzen processors encroaching on its HEDT line-up. The company recently also launched the Core i9-9900KS, which doesn't exactly offer groundbreaking performance increases either. And even though the Core i9-10980XE follows the 10th Gen numbering scheme, it's apparently not even a 10th Gen part, and Intel says there is no "generation" associated with its X-series chips at all. Whatever the case, Intel sure isn't doing anything to address its reputation for stirring up considerable confusion with its unhelpful processor names.

If you already own an Intel Core i9-9980XE, there is scant reason to get the Core i9-10980XE. The latter comes with support for Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 3, and DL Boost instructions, but those are small additions that don't drastically change what the processor can do on a day-to-day basis (unless you're a researcher that wants the chip for DL Boost). Ultimately, the new chip still fails to excite, and price cuts aside, it really looks as if Intel is pushing out very iterative upgrades as it claws its way to 10nm chips on desktop.

Having said all that, you also can't overlook what the price drop has done for Intel. The Core i9-10980XE now occupies the middle ground between the Ryzen 9 3950X and Threadripper 3000, and it could still manage to find a willing audience. 

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  • Performance 8
  • Features 8
  • Value 7.5
The Good
Aggressive Turbo Boost Max 3.0 speeds
Good multi-threaded performance
Huge price slash from the previous generation
The Bad
Not much faster than the Core i9-9980XE
Iterative upgrades that don't really bring anything new to the table
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