Intel Core i9 10980XE Review Leaks Out – Controversially Scores 8563 Points In Cinebench R20, 2.6% Less Than The 9980XE

Usman Pirzada
Intel introduces the Intel Core X-series processors in October 2019. Four new processors are suited for advanced workflows that vary in need for photo/video editing, game development and 3D animation. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

A review of the upcoming Intel 10980XE processor has leaked out from the guys over at Lab501 but it would appear that something is missing from the picture because the 10980XE actually appears to regress in some major test results. This would indicate either an issue with the exact sample they have (engineering sample/not final clocks etc) or Intel actually deciding to launch a product that regresses in performance (which I would consider being unlikely in the extreme.

Another possibility is that something is drastically different in the 10980XE in terms of architecture/microcode which is making benchmarking programs fail to properly utilize its resources. No matter how you slice it though, you should definitely take this one with a pinch of salt as far as being indicative of the final product goes.

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Intel 10980XE review leaks out - score regresses in some benchmarks, is the review indicative of the final product?

Cinebench is one of the staples of modern processor benchmarking and is pretty much the go-to bench for peak theoretical performance. The 10980XE was tested using the R20 variant and scored 8563 points. Here is why this is surprising. The Intel 9980XE, which we have a sample of, usually scores in the range of 8800. This means that you are actually seeing a regression of roughly 3% if you believe this to be indicative of the final product. I for one find it extremely unlikely that Intel would choose to go to market with a product that is demonstrably inferior to a predecessor in any aspect.

We are also seeing some of the same regression in FireStrike Extreme physics benchmark but this isn't a problem with the CPU - more a problem with the software. FSE does not scale past 8 cores (only Time Spy Extreme does) and anything beyond that point is pretty much hit or miss. I really urge all leakers to start using Time Spy Extreme Physics for testing to eliminate this particular caveat of benchmarking scores.

The Intel 10980XE will have 18 cores / 36 threads and will feature a Turbo Boost Max clock of 4.8 GHz (with a base clock of 3.0 GHz). The TDP will remain the same 165W as before and the socket will be LGA2066. The 10980XE will have 72 lanes of PCIe and four channels of DDR4 clocked at 2933 MHz. All of this will be supported by a 24.75 MB L3 cache. The Cascade Lake HEDT lineup has also had its launch price slashed in half to compete with AMD's Ryzen and Threadripper based offerings and offer a much better $ per core figure.

LAB501 also ran some game tests (be sure to head over to their site to see the full review) and here are some of the usual suspects below. All major resolutions including 4k, 1440p and 1080p were tested but since 1080p is the resolution where the CPU is truly taxed, we have shown some handpicked 1080p ones below. The 9900K consistently beats out the 10980XE, which is not really surprising considering clocks (usually) matter more for gaming than core count (above 8 cores). There are some exceptions to this rule but these are few and far between.


Here is why this review makes little sense though: the Intel 10980XE is a processor that has been leaked (and officially confirmed) to have superior overclocking performance. This is a natural side effect of the highly mature 14nm process the CPU is based on. This would mean that Intel would be able to push higher base clock rates and turbo boosts at the very least and should easily be able to outperform the Intel 9980XE. Considering this review is using a sample that is not able to do so at stock settings makes me think this is an engineering sample and one that is not using the final clocks or using outdated drivers/microcode.

If you remember the scoop by PCGamesN, Intel has confirmed that most 10980XE processors will be able to cross the 5 GHz mark on AIO coolers:

“You can overclock the heck out of these and get some really interesting results,” Intel’s Mark Walton tells us. “For example, we’ve had the 10980XE, the eighteen core processor, up as high as 5.1GHz in the lab using standard liquid cooling. And that, I believe, is all cores.”

“This is just an example of one particular chip we’ve had in the lab,” says Walton, “so this might not be reflective of all chips. Just to be clear on that, every chip is different, some chips will overclock better than others, but it is possible.” -PCGamesN

That's not all, if you look at the benchmarks that had leaked previously you will see that Intel's 10980XE has a significant performance increase over older generations.

That's not all. Intel will actually be doubling the amount of supported memory (from 128 GB on 9th Gen Intel HEDT and AMD 2nd Gen Threadripper) to 256GB, as well as increasing the stock memory controller clock to 2933 MHz to match AMD (this was previously 2666 on Intel). Available PCIe lanes have also been increased from 68 to 72 (as opposed to AMD's 64) on the upcoming platform.

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