Intel s latest Core X-series CPUs are cheaper than ever before, but still cost a small fortune. What is the intel x series

Overall, the i3 is good enough for budget builds, the i5 is a great fit for most mid-range builds, and the i7 can handle most high-end gaming setups, so there’s no need to reach for the i9 unless you’re also going to be running CPU-intensive software.

Intel’s latest Core X-series CPUs are cheaper than ever before, but still cost a small fortune

Let’s assume for a moment that you are the type of person who can spend a fortune on your CPU. Your core thirst knows no bounds, and you eat threads like bowls of digital spaghetti. You’re the type of person to glance at my list of the best gaming processors and laugh because chips like Intel’s Core i7-9700K just don’t have the speed and power you want. You my friend want X-rated things. EXTREME. Well, you’ll be very pleased to hear that Intel is not only releasing four new Core X-series desktop processors next month in November, but also the top-of-the-line (and so memorably named) Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition as well (finally) costs less than a thousand dollars. To cheer!

Previously, Intel’s X-series chips were well above that odd $ 1,000 price. Indeed, its direct predecessor, the Core i9-9980XE, currently costs almost twice as much – £ 1,885 / $ 1,990 to be exact. On the other hand, the new Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition is expected to cost “only” $ 979 (UK price to be determined in November), giving Intel’s top-of-the-line desktop processors a much greater range for avid enthusiasts.

Of course, they’re still too expensive for someone like me to consider buying one of them. I just don’t need that kind of power. However, if you’re the kind of person who hears the words “18 cores, 36 threads and a maximum turbo boost speed of 4.8GHz” (which is a lot for a CPU with so many cores) and starts overheating a bit under the collar, you might think it’s worth it get cash for it. For more key specifications please see the table below.

Processor Cores / threads Base clock speed Turbo Boost speed (2.0 technology) Turbo Boost Maximum Speed ​​(Technology 3.0) All Turbo Speed ​​Cores TDP Prices (US)
Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition 18/36 3.0 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.8 GHz 3.8 GHz 165W $ 979
Intel Core i9-10940X X series 14/28 3.3 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.1 GHz 165W 784
Intel Core i9-10920X X series 12/24 3.5 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.3 GHz 165W 689
Intel Core i9-10900X X series 10/20 3.7 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.7 GHz 4.3 GHz 165W pLN 590

Other notable new features include support for up to 256GB of DDR4-2933 RAM, Wi-Fi 6 support, and Intel Deep Learning Boost technology, the latter of which helps speed up AI workloads – useful, say, if you’re a game developer, animator, or whatever a creative professional who deals with these kinds of things on a regular basis.

Needless to say, you will need some serious cooling hardware for these processors, but Intel also told me that they managed to get a Core i9-10980XE running at a snappy 5.1GHz frequency after overclocking with only “standard lab liquid cooling”. Pools of liquid nitrogen are not required. Of course, their interpretation of “standard” liquid cooling may be quite different from the definition of standard liquid cooling that ordinary PCs do (Intel has not explained what this actually means in practice), but it’s clear that avid overclockers will have a lot to sink their teeth into this place.

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Katharine is the editor-in-chief of the RPS, which means she is now to blame for it all. After joining the team in 2017, she spent a lot of time in the mines of RPS gear testing all the components that are in our computers, but now she can write about all the cute games we play as well. She will play pretty much anything she can get her hands on and is very biased in JRPG games and quest downloads.

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Their specs give us some insight into the new X series of chips and how they focus on multi-tasking and creative enhancements. Thanks to this, they will become solid competitors of the AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors.

An 18-Core Powerhouse

With 18 cores, 36 threads and a Rated Thermal Power (TDP) of 165W, the Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition is clearly intended to serve as the brain of an over-the-top desktop PC. This chip is overkill for anyone who doesn’t regularly run resource-intensive applications designed to take advantage of all the available cores and threads. Some potential use cases are 4K or 8K video editing, data science applications, or the compilation of huge codebases. For almost every other consumer or prosumer computing task, including 3D games, the Core i9-10980XE cuts like a knife through butter.

The Core i9-10980XE is built around the Intel Cascade Lake microarchitecture (hereinafter referred to as “Cascade Lake-X”), a 14nm manufacturing process that also builds on most of the latest Xeon processors for servers and professional workstations. Despite this new architecture, the features of the Core i9-10980XE are mostly identical to those of the Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition, which is based on the older “Skylake-X” architecture. Apart from having the same number of cores and threads, both chips do not have integrated graphics processing (i.e you will need a graphics card to run alongside), they share the same TDP, and use the same LGA 2066 socket and X299 chipset.

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Intel Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition

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So, apart from the drastic drop in prices, there are only three minor differences that may interest enthusiasts. The first is a slightly higher clock speed. The Core i9-10980XE starts at 3 GHz and can reach a nominal maximum of 4.6 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost technology, which first increases the speed of the highest-performing processor cores. The Core i9-9980XE has the same base clock speed, but its maximum Turbo Boost is only 4.4 GHz. Higher speed at the highest level indicates a more efficient processor, which is what we expect from generation to generation. All Core X-Series chips are overclockable, so you can get even higher peak clock speeds if you have the experience and high-end power supplies, motherboards, and cooling gear to overclock. (More on that in a moment.)

Second minor performance improvement: The Core i9-10980XE supports 48 lanes of PCI Express (in addition to the 24 lanes reserved for the CPU itself), compared to 44 lanes on the Core i9-9980XE and Skylake-X. Few of your users will need as many lanes though, even if they install two graphics cards and a couple of PCI Express NVMe SSDs, but it’s nice to know there’s a stock. However, the board will also need to support extra lines, which could mean you will need to purchase a new motherboard if you have an existing X299 setup. Motherboard makers have introduced several “refreshed X299” boards that add 48 line support, such as the Asus Prime X299 Edition 30 presented at Computex earlier this year.

Finally, the Core i9-10980XE adds support for up to 256 GB of DDR4-2933 memory in a quad-channel configuration, up from the 128 GB limit on the Core i9-9980XE. The doubling of the memory ceiling is significant, although very few applications will be able to take advantage of this new astronomical ceiling. As with the additional PCI Express lanes, you’ll also need a new motherboard that supports up to 256GB of memory.

AMD Alternatives: Suddenly, a Killer Lineup

There is no direct competitor to the Core i9-10980XE based solely on price. The two closest alternatives are the aforementioned Ryzen 9 3950X, a 16-core chip which costs $ 749, or the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X which costs 400-399 and has 24 cores.

Here is a compilation of all the newest suitable HEDT processors on the market, from the Ryzen 9 3950X (the only one here on the “main” platform, AMD AM4). You can click on the chart to enlarge it.

Both of the AMD chips I just mentioned (and indeed all in the table above) are based on the 3rd generation AMD “Zen 2” architecture and the breakthrough 7nm technology. The Ryzen 9 3950X has a much lower 105-watt TDP and significantly fewer PCI Express lanes, at 24. It also lacks the quad-channel memory support that both Threadripper and Core X chips have.

Meanwhile, the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X has a 240-watt TDP and offers 72 PCI Express lanes. Both new Ryzen platforms, as part of the X570 (main Ryzen) and TRX40 (third generation Threadripper) chipsets, provide support for the PCI Express 4.0 bus with higher bandwidth, which is currently of interest to users of the most modern PCI Express SSDs. (See our guide to all 12 starting TRX40 motherboards.)

Thus, the current state of the high-end desktop chip market is defined by well-carved niches. Intel’s Core i9-10980XE is an enhanced version of the old chip manufacturing process whose price reflects this. The Ryzen 9 3950X and Ryzen Threadripper 3960X chips show what the more advanced architecture can offer, with specs below and above the Core i9-10980XE specs, respectively.

While it does not offer any significant structural or technical enhancements over its predecessor, given the massive price adjustments of the Core X series, the Core i9-10980XE thus appears to be a goldilock processor, one that combines the price and specs of the Ryzen 9 3950X and the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X. But how does it work?

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When building a new computer, we understand that deciding which components to choose and whether they will be compatible can be a nightmare. If you choose one of our kits, we guarantee that the components will work together flawlessly. These components are the same as we use in our fully built systems, so we are very confident that they will work in the enclosure of your choice.

The only thing you should pay attention to is the height of the CPU cooler. The table below gives the height of each CPU cooler available in the configurator. Make sure the case will fit the CPU cooler of your choice. If you are unsure please contact us with the chassis you intend to use and we will advise you accordingly.

If you would like to choose an alternative CPU cooler that we have in stock but is not available in the configurator, please let us know and we will confirm its suitability.

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It is not uncommon for PC components to fail, even when brand new. If you choose a bundle with Quiet PC, we will put the components through two tests after assembly. The first test checks memory, the second test checks every other component in the package. These tests last 24 hours and fire all components. We also update the motherboard to the latest BIOS and configure it accordingly. This quality control procedure ensures that the components are operating as expected.

We also offer a full 24-month basic version return guarantee for all our packages. This means that if you encounter any problems with the components in the package, just contact us and we’ll get you back up and running in no time.

Click the round question mark after each product to view more detailed specifications.

Also, don’t forget about discounts on the 2nd Gen Threadripper line and their motherboards. Our previous editors’ pick, the Ryzen Threadripper 2950X, has dropped below $ 700 and provides 16 cores and 32 threads at a shocking price.

Intel Core vs Intel Core X – Which Is Better For Gaming?

Apart from the above, it is obvious that Intel Core X processors offer more overall processing power and that they have a higher number of cores / threads compared to the main Core models that were released at the same time.

For example, if we look at the latest upcoming 10th Gen Comet Lake desktop processors, the cheapest i3 models offer 4 cores and 8 threads, the i5 models have 6 cores and 12 threads. The more efficient i7 has 8 cores and 16 threads, while the most expensive popular i9 solutions offer a total of 10 cores and 20 threads. As mentioned above, these processors range in price range from $ 100- $ 500.

Meanwhile, Cascade Lake-X i9 processors start at 10 cores and 20 threads and go as high as 18 cores and 36 threads. Needless to say, they offer better performance, but they come at a price as they currently start at $ 600 and go as high as $ 1,000, making them significantly more expensive than mainstream products.

That said, it’s undeniable that the Core X models offer better performance, but more cores and more overall processing power doesn’t mean better in-game performance, nor does it mean good gaming value.

So is Intel Core X better for gaming than their mainstream Intel Core counterparts? In short, no, and for some good reasons, which we’ll cover below.

PC processor

The first and most important question is about price and value. As we found out, Core X processors are much more expensive. More importantly, they offer a low value if you’re building a PC designed exclusively for gaming. Why?

Simply because when choosing a gaming CPU, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it shouldn’t be limiting your GPU. If the CPU is too slow to issue instructions, the GPU will not run at peak performance and some of its processing power will inevitably go out of use. Likewise, if the processor is fast enough for a given GPU, the processor will not run at its peak performance and the processing power of the processor will not be fully utilized.

That said, pairing a $ 700 processor with a $ 700 GPU won’t necessarily provide much better performance than if you pair the same GPU with the cheaper $ 400 i7 model. You may still see the minor benefits if you go for a more powerful processor, but they’re definitely not worth the cost.

As such, there’s a minimal incentive to spend the extra money on a Core X CPU if you’re building a PC that you only intend to use for gaming.

Overall, the i3 is good enough for budget builds, the i5 is a great fit for most mid-range builds, and the i7 can handle most high-end gaming setups, so there’s no need to reach for the i9 unless you’re also going to be running CPU-intensive software.

It cannot be denied that Core X models have more cores and threads, but all this processing power is simply not needed in modern games and most modern GPUs.


  • Intel Core processors are Intel’s main offerings, which include a variety of solutions for different types of users, from the inexpensive i3 models to the more expensive and more powerful i7 and i9 models. Until recently, they all used the popular LGA 1151 socket, and Intel had only just introduced a new LGA 1200 socket for the 10th generation Comet Lake processors. Overall, these processors are a good fit for gaming PCs.
  • Intel Core X processors are relatively new, offer more cores and better multitasking performance at significantly higher prices compared to the Core series. They also use the less popular LGA 2066 motherboard socket, which is available in a narrower selection of relatively expensive high-end motherboards. Ultimately, they’re good for enthusiasts and professionals.

We hope you found this article helpful and cleared up any confusion about the differences between Intel Core and Intel Core X processors.

If you’re just purchasing a new gaming processor, check out our pick of the best gaming processors of 2022, as you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

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As for the mainstream Core series, the i9 brand was only introduced in 2019 as part of the revamped Coffee Lake-S line and is also present in the new Comet Lake-S line.

The physical makeup of the new processors

Intel was silent on the physical architecture of the chips, including the expected response to whether they would be able to reduce the size of the 14nm manufacturing process.

So far, there has been no update as to whether the X-series chipset will support the Z390 chipset used by 9th Gen Intel Core processors. Intel has confirmed that more details on this will be revealed soon, so be patient if you want answers to these questions.

It is worth noting that the new Intel processors have a surprisingly high 165 TDP. We believe this suggests that Intel has not changed the processor architecture for these new offerings. Perhaps they are trying to get the most performance out of the 14-meter architecture.

While the architecture is still a bit vague, Intel provided a lot of detail on the specs, price, and expected release period, which is good news for the curious.

How much will it cost?

Another question you may have is how much will it get you down?

Intel says their X-series will cost anywhere from $ 590 to $ 979. The i9-10900X is the cheapest in the line, priced at $ 590. This offer offers accelerated clock speeds up to 4.7 GHz and 10 cores.

Next on the price scale is the Intel Core i9-10920X, priced at $ 689. This shows some increase in accelerated clock frequencies, to 4.8 GHz, and an increase in the number of cores to 12.

Another mid-range offer in this group is the Intel Core i9-10940X. Its price is $ 784, it has an increased clock frequency of 4.8 GHz, 14 cores and 28 threads.

At the top of the scale is the Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition. This is for those for whom money is not an issue as it will bring you a whopping $ 979. For this price, you will get 18 cores and 36 threads. However, it should be mentioned that the boost clock remains at 4.8 GHz, the same as in the previous two models in this series.

Will you be looking to buy one of Intel’s new X series offerings? Which one would you choose from the released stock?

If you’re just purchasing a new gaming processor, check out our pick of the best gaming processors of 2022, as you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Editor’s Note

We were not among those who received review samples of the new Ryzen 3950X and 3rd Gen Threadripper from AMD – and of course we were not alone (even high-profile YouTube channels such as JayzTwoCents and Bitwit did not receive samples from AMD). This puts us in a position where we can either offer an Intel review today without AMD’s latest and greatest representatives, or not provide one at all.

We were told there were simply not enough samples to watch and we waited for a new allocation from AMD for both the Ryzen 9 3950X and Threadripper 3960X / 3970X. As no further allocations are available at this point, the plan is to purchase the 3950X at retail (when they become available).

For the purposes of this review, Intel provided a sample to us and many other outlets in connection with this launch, and our CPU was delivered following normal procedure and regular sampling process prior to summarization / embargo. We can only review what we have, and this time we don’t have the latest and greatest AMD. I would always prefer the best AMD products showcased in any Intel review (and vice versa), and it’s disappointing that we can’t have it – at least today.

Of course, those looking for comparisons with the latest AMD processors will have to look elsewhere – at least until we get our hands on retail parts.

Benchmark Results

The following results were achieved using multiple platforms and the highest officially supported memory speeds for each processor. Since this is a look at part of the HEDT, our focus here is on CPU specific workloads. Our test platform for Intel i9-10980XE features the new MSI Creator X299 motherboard, a very impressive solution (90A 12 phase digital power and triple 8 pin CPU power connectors) which we will cover in an upcoming article.

Test platforms with a PC perspective
Motherboard AMD X570: ASUS Crosshair VIII HERO WiFi
AMD X399: GIGABYTE AORUS X399 Gaming 7
Intel Z390: ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X
Intel X99: ASUS X99 Deluxe II
Intel X299: MSI Creator X299
Memory X570: Crucial Ballistix Elite 16 GB (8 GB x 2) DDR4 @ 3200 MT / s
X399: Crucial Vengeance LPX DDR4 @ 2933 MT / s
Z390: 16 GB (8 GB x 2) Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 32 GB DDR4 @ 3200 MT / s
X99: 32GB (8GBx4) Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 @ 2133 MT / s (i7-5960X)
X299: 32 GB (8 GBx4) Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 @ 2933 MT / s (i9-10980XE), 2666 MT / s (i9-7980XE)
Storage Corsair Neutron Series XTi 480 GB
Charger CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W
Operating system Windows 10 64-bit 1903
GPU drivers NVIDIA: 440.20
Cinebench R20

Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition CPU Review - 9 Processors

Even though we knew we wouldn’t have any results for the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X or Threadripper 3960X / 3970X, seeing that the first chart was still disappointing. But even without the latest AMD processors, we can see that the i9-10980XE is a nice upgrade even over the 18-core / 36-thread i9-7980XE thanks to much higher clock rates, although its improvement over last year’s i9-9980XE will be less impressive (not we have a newer chip to test).

While high-clocked desktop processors occupy a single-threaded crown at Cinebench, top of the table in terms of multi-threaded performance is (obviously) the 32-core Threadripper 2990WX. Intel looks great with 14 fewer cores, but Threadripper (especially the current generation) will have a significant advantage in such rendering applications.


Speaking of rendering, we tested the new Intel i9-10980XE using the latest version of Blender (2.81) and compared it to the rest of the group. It’s worth noting that the results for the desktop processors (i9-9900KS and Ryzen 9 3900X) were recorded prior to the 2.81 release and are actually version 2.79 from the official Blender Benchmark app.

Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition CPU Review - 10 Processors

Once again, Threadripper is at the top, with the new i9-10980XE in second place. The gains in relation to the older i9-7980XE are smaller here. As you can see, the old i7-5960X is the slowest in this group, and these results are here for reference only (a lot has changed since Intel’s first 8-core desktop processor was introduced).

I touched on faster DDR4-2933 memory support compared to the previous two Skylake-X parts (DDR4-2666) and the Core i9-10980XE also supports twice as much memory as before, now up to a maximum of 256 GB. PCI Express 3.0 lanes are up to 48 from the previous limit of 44, and the 10980XE supports Intel’s Deep Learning Boost technology for AI workloads.

Core S-Series

In addition to the Intel Xeon W and X-series processors, Intel is also introducing new prices for its Intel Core S-Series processors without integrated graphics. Intel is committed to these processors in its long-term roadmap, which has given Intel the ability to reset where it fits with offerings and prices. The new prices apply from today, along with the ninth generation Intel Core processors currently available on the market.

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