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Intel Core i9-7980XE and i9-7960X CPU Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Sep 25, 2017 7:01 am
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the Core i9-7980XE and 7960X.


What's Hot


Excellent Multi-Core Performance: Intel's mesh architecture seems right at home with these high core count (HCC) CPUs, and with the 16 and 18 core variants of the Skylake-X microarchitecture, we get to really see it in action and shine.



Excellent Single Core Performance: Even though multi-core performance has really improved due to the higher core count, Intel still maintains excellent single core performance, mainly due to core IPC and Turbo Boost 3.0's 4.4GHz boost.


Huge Overclocking Boost: Overclocking the 7980XE unleashes a beast, a beast that destroys anything in its path, but the gains aren't free. Just like any high performance, over the top machine, the energy required to unlock the power has to come from somewhere.


Well Rounded: Most programs are not totally single threaded or fully multi-threaded. Instead, they are a mixture of both. Programs also take advantage of a combination of per clock performance as well as frequency. The Skylake 7980XE and 7960X are well-rounded CPUs capable of doing very well in real-world environments; they do more than a few things very well.


What's Not


Power Consumption and Heat: The heat problem could be overcome more easily if thermal paste was replaced with solder between the die and heat spreader, but even then, you will need excellent cooling if you are going to overclock. The CPU also eats power when overclocked, and even at stock it still is quite high.


Cost: At $2000, the extra performance headroom will be realized by those who want the best and are willing to pay the premium for it, the cost increase doesn't scale linearly. At $1700, Intel's 16 core CPU costs $700 more than the competition, but it does offer benefits. Both the CPUs are premium products, and they are niche products, and Intel has priced them as such.



Final Thoughts


The 7980XE and 7960X are super expensive, and Intel has made them that way for a reason; they are niche products that offer more all-around performance than what is out there on the market. The best analogy I can think of is one where a 7700K is like a BMW M5 or a Tesla Model-S, Threadripper 1950X would be the Mercedes McLaren SLR, and the Skylake-X 7980XE is like the Bugatti Chiron.


The market for such a CPU is very niche, and those in that market know they are in that market. It's a CPU with advantages; it's got quick acceleration, excellent race handling, and tons of speed. It uses more of the basics to get there, with custom systems that would be counterintuitive on something lesser. Take for example the mesh, it's great on the HCC (high core count) Intel CPUs, but would be detrimental on an LCC (low core count) CPU where the ring is better.




The CPU also costs Intel more to produce, and that's because of the larger die size. A large die means fewer dies per wafer, and lower yields because the die is more likely to contain one of the many random defects that occur during production. While the CPU also costs Intel more, it will also cost you more as well.


Not only will you require a motherboard with a stronger VRM, but you will also need to invest in a strong all-in-one liquid cooler at a minimum. Power consumption is also high, and that is because performance requires energy, and the laws of thermodynamics don't allow us to just make energy without paying for it. The bottom line is that the 7980XE and 7960X are two of the fastest CPUs I have ever tested. They are the Crown Jewel of Intel's consumer lineup, and the 7980XE can perform one trillion operations per second (one Teraflop).


As with anything at the super high-end, you need to be prepared to accept its shortcomings to take advantage of its unique capabilities and supremacy.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: Intel's 7980XE and 7960X offer superlative multi-threaded performance matched with excellent single-threaded agility, but they might cost you a kidney.

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