The 7980XE is on the left, and the 7960X is on the right, both of them look identical, and you wouldn't be able to tell them apart except for the frequencies listed on the front of the CPU. The top internal heat spreader of the CPU on the 7980XE and 7960X is the same as that on the 7900X and other Skylake-X CPUs.
There is a tiny inactive RFID chip in the top right corner of each CPU; it's a holdover from enterprise Xeons, which these CPUs are based on (presumably for easy identification of a CPU when there are thousands).
Intel used thermal paste instead of solder between the die and the heat spreader, but the die is larger on the high core count (HCC) CPUs (like 7980XE), so the die makes more contact with the heat spreader than the die of a 7900X would.
The bottoms of the CPUs are identical. The 7980XE is on the left while the 7960X is on the right. There are 2066 gold pads that make contact with the pins in the LGA socket, and when installing the CPU, do your best to try to avoid touching them.
- CPU: Intel Core i9-7980XE and i9-7960X
- Motherboard: One of the two below
- Cooler: Corsair H115i AIO Water Cooler
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 32GB and G.Skill TridentZ RGB 32GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Samsung 950 Pro 256GB M.2
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
I used the ASUS X299 ROG Rampage VI Extreme motherboard for a lot of the testing in this review (I used the MSI board below for the rest). It makes RGB LEDs classy. The Rampage is part of ASUS's second wave of X299 motherboards, so it's a bit more tuned for the HCC (12C+) CPUs.
MSI's X299 XPower was also used in this review, mainly because it was already on the test bench for review when I started doing a lot of the testing for this review. It's part of MSI's second wave of X299 motherboards, so it has improved VRM cooling and improved VRM design (more phases). No matter the heat sink design, I still used a fan over both of the motherboards' VRMs, as I needed active cooling on the test bench.
While all the tests are run at stock, one set of results, the 7980XE 4.4G OC, uses the overclock you see above. It involved 2.1v VCCIN, LLC Level 7, 1.200v VCore, 240A current capability, extreme VRM settings, and maxed out CPU power. The voltage is still a bit too much for the AIO to handle, so the CPU does throttle in certain situations.
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