Intel Core i9-10980XE Reviewed: Strong Performance, but Can It Beat AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X?

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Intel Core X-Series Processor

Intel Core X-Series Processor

(Image credit: Intel)

Romanian publication Lab501 has published the first review of the Intel Core i9-10980XE, and it is apparently unsanctioned by Intel. The 18-core, 36-thread processor is the flagship of the chipmaker’s Cascade Lake-X family, which Intel announced earlier this month.

It’s uncertain how the publication obtained the unreleased processor, or whether it’s an engineering sample (ES) or retail chip. It’s also unlikely that this sample is using production-class firmware. Lab501 paired the Core i9-10980XE with a Gigabyte X299 Aorus Master motherboard, 32GB (4x8GB) of G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3200 memory with CL14-14-14-36 timings, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card.

Core i9-10980XE Application Performance

Office, Productivity, and Compression
Benchmark Core i9-10980XE Ryzen 9 3900X Core i9-9900K
PCMark 10 7,214 points 7,571 points 7,112 points
WinRAR 5.8 24,656 KB/s 28,156 KB/s 28,804 KB/s
7-Zip 137,310 MIPS 110,845 MIPS 68,123 MIPS

Lab501 inexplicably did not include Threadripper processors in its test pool. Bear in mind, those are the -10980XE’s natural competitors. 

Lab501’s results show the Core i9-10980XE falling behind the Ryzen 9 3900X in PCMark 10. When it comes to compression workloads, WinRAR 5.8 apparently favors the Ryzen 9 3900X, while 7-Zip puts the Core i9-10980XE ahead.

Rendering and Encoding
Benchmark Core i9-10980XE Ryzen 9 3900X Core i9-9900K
3ds Max 2020 518 seconds 745 seconds 934 seconds
Blender 2.8 421 seconds 483 seconds 636 seconds
DaVinci Resolve 15 96 seconds 109 seconds 165 seconds
HandBrake 1.2.2 45 seconds 46 seconds 55 seconds
Cinebench R20 Single-Core 458 points 522 points 511 points
Cinebench R20 Multi-Core 8,563 points 7,076 points 4,935 points
POV-Ray 3.7 Single-Core 473 points 492 points 517 points
POV-Ray 3.7 Multi-Core 7,303 points 6,151 points 4,276 points

The Core i9-10980XE has six more cores than the Ryzen 9 3900X, and this difference is enough to give the Intel chip the advantage with software that embraces cores, such as 3ds Max 2020, Blender 2.8, and DaVinci Resolve 15. In HandBrake 1.2.2., however, the Core i9-10980XE is only one second faster than the Ryzen 9 3900X.

On the flipside, the Ryzen 9 3900X has a better single-core performance than the Core i9-10980XE. The Ryzen 9 3900X performs up to 14% and 4% faster than the Core i9-10980XE in Cinebench R20 and POV-Ray 3.7 single-core tests, respectively. 

The tides turn in the Core i9-10980XE’s favor in the multi-core tests. The six extra cores gives the Core i9-10980XE a 21% and 18.7% lead in Cinebench R20 and POV-Ray 3.7, respectively.

Core i9-10980XE Gaming Performance

Gaming (1920 x 1080)
Game Core i9-10980XE Ryzen 9 3900X Core i9-9900K
Grand Theft Auto V 114 FPS 124 FPS 126 FPS
Far Cry New Dawn 90 FPS 106 FPS 121 FPS
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 175 FPS 173 FPS 176 FPS
Middle-earth: Shadow of War 151 FPS 146 FPS 158 FPS
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III 116 FPS 130 FPS 134 FPS
Batman: Arkham Knight 184 FPS 181 FPS 184 FPS
Sleeping Dogs 249 FPS 262 FPS 280 FPS
Metro Exodus 91 FPS 95 FPS 93 FPS
Ashes of the Singularity 98 FPS 99 FPS 98 FPS
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 100 FPS 106 FPS 114 FPS

Lab501 has a pretty extensive gaming test suit. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll look at the 1920 x 1080 results. It’s evident that gaming favors processors with high operating clocks, so the Core i9-9900K continues to be the fastest gaming processor on the planet. Nonetheless, if we compare the Core i9-10980XE and the Ryzen 9 3900X, the results reveal that AMD’s chip is better at gaming.

Due to the significant difference in cores, it’s a no-brainer that the Core i9-10980XE would come out on top in software that scales with cores and memory bandwidth. The Ryzen 9 3900X undoubtedly put up a respectable fight. At the same time, we’re more interested in seeing what the Ryzen 9 3950X can do, although given the segment in which the Core i9-10980XE is in, it would only be fair to compare it against AMD’s Threadripper 3000-series offering.

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