As we continue our awards shows for end of year (see also: Best Cases of 2018), we’re now recapping some of the best and worst CPU launches of the year. The categories include best overall value, most well-rounded, best hobbyist production, best budget gaming, most fun to overclock, and biggest disappointment. We’ll be walking through a year of testing data as we recap the most memorable products leading into Black Friday and holiday sales. As always, links to the products are provided below, alongside our article for a written recap. The video is embedded for the more visual audience.
We’ll be mailing out GN Award Crystals to the companies for their most important products for the year. The award crystal is a 3D laser-engraved GN tear-down logo with extreme attention to detail and, although the products have to earn the award, you can buy one for yourself at store.gamersnexus.net.
As a reminder here, data isn’t the focus today. We’re recapping coverage, so we’re pulling charts sparingly and as needed from a year’s worth of CPU reviews. For those older pieces, keep in mind that some of the tests are using older data. For full detail on any CPU in this video, you’ll want to check our original reviews. Keep in mind that the most recent review – that’ll be the 9600K or 9980XE review – will contain the most up-to-date test data with the most up-to-date Windows and game versions.
DDR5 has existed in a few different forms in the past year or two, but this past week brought news of the first JEDEC-compliant memory chip for future DDR5 implementations. As usual with new memory standards, frequency is expected to increase (and timings will likely loosen) significantly with the new generation, something we talk about in today's list of news items for the week. Also in that list, we talk ongoing CPU shortages for CPUs, Apple's T2 security co-processor and its impact on right to repair, and official mouse/keyboard support on the Xbox.
Show notes follow the video embed, as always.
The Intel i9-9980XE is a revamped i9-7980XE with solder and higher out-of-box clocks. It’s also got much higher out-of-the-box thermals as compared to a delidded 7980XE, as you’ll see in our testing, and is disappointingly limited in its overclocking headroom when using practical cooling solutions. The 9980XE should effectively be a higher clocked 7980XE with a better stock cooling interface and could be a good candidate for future streams where we RIP YouTube personalities. That is, it would be with chilled water on top of it, whereas the 7980XE has more thermal headroom out of the delid tool. Regardless, we have full benchmarks of this new CPU, including perspectives from both the enthusiast overclocker’s viewpoint and the professional user’s viewpoint. Testing includes overclocking, thermals, Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, gaming, power, and more.
Differences between the 7980XE and 9980XE are relatively minimal when compared to launches with new architectures. The 9980XE functionally is a 7980XE, it’s just soldered and faster – a pre-overclock, more or less. We immediately ran into overclocking limitations on the X299 DARK and Gigabyte Gaming 9 motherboards alike, the former of which has been used by our team to claim (fleeting) TimeSpy world records. These limitations stemmed from a lack of thermal headroom, something our delidded 7980XE doesn’t face to the same degree.
The X299 DARK was used for overclocking tests and the Gigabyte Gaming 9 was used for 'stock' tests, although its MCE toggle apparently does nothing. We used the latest BIOS for each motherboard. Additional test methodology information is in our 9900K review.
Although the year is winding down, hardware announcements are still heavy through the mid-point in November: NVIDIA pushed a major driver update and has done well to address BSOD issues, the company has added new suppliers to its memory list (a good thing), and RTX should start getting support once Windows updates roll-out. On the flip-side, AMD is pushing 7nm CPU and GPU discussion as high-end serve parts hit the market.
Show notes below the embedded video.
Intel’s TDP has long been questioned, but this particular generation put the 95W TDP under fire as users noticed media outlets measuring power consumption at well over 100W on most boards. It isn’t uncommon to see the 9900K at 150W or more in some AVX workloads, like Blender, thus far-and-away exceeding the 95W number. Aside from TDP being an imperfect specification for power, there’s also a lot that isn’t understood about it – including by motherboard manufacturers, apparently. All manufacturers are exceeding Intel guidance for the Turbo boosting duration in some way, which is causing the uncharacteristically high power consumption that produces unfairly advantaged performance results. The other end of this is that the 9900K looks much hotter in some tests.
Hardware news coverage has largely followed the RTX 2080 Ti story over the past week, and it's one of dying cards of unknown quantities online. We have been investigating the issue further and have a few leads on what's going on, but are awaiting for some of the dead cards to arrive at our office before proceeding further. We also learned about Pascal stock depletion, something that's been a curious topic when given the slow uptake on RTX.
Further news items include industry discussion on Intel's outsourcing to TSMC, its hiring of former AMD graphics staff, and dealings with 14nm shortages. Only one rumor is present this week, and that's of the nearly confirmed RX 590.
Intel broke silence this week in response to media reports that its 10nm process "died," denying the claims outright and reaffirming target delivery for 2019. This follows reports emboldened by Semiaccurate of the discontinuation of the current 10nm process development, a site that previously accurately predicted issues with 10nm production. We've also seen plenty of AMD news items this week, including a slumped earnings report, Vega 20 rumors, and RX 590 rumors.
The shows notes are below the video, as always, for those favoring reading.
After our launch-day investigation into delidding the 9900K and finding its shortcomings, we’ve been working on a follow-up involving lapping the inside of the IHS and applying liquid metal to close the story on improvement potential with the delid process. We’re also returning to bring everyone back to reality on delidding the 9900K, because it’s not as easy as it may look from what you’re seeing online.
We already know that it’s possible to see performance improvement, based on our previous content and Roman’s own testing, but we’ve also said that Intel’s solder is an improvement over its previous Dow Corning paste. Considering that, in our testing, high-end Hydronaut paste performs nearing the solder, that’s good news when compared to the older thermal compound. Intel also needed to make that change for more thermal headroom, so everyone benefits – but it is possible to outperform it.
Intel i9-9900K CPU Review: Solder vs. Delid, Streaming Benchmarks, & Gaming vs. 2700(X), 8700K, MoreFriday, 19 October 2018
Intel’s i9-9900K’s most boasted feature in all marketing is its solder, so we decided to test thermals with the new soldered interface, then delid the CPU and put thermal paste back on it for more testing. It’s backwards from what we typically do (which is removing paste for liquid metal), so we’ll be looking at soldered vs. paste tests, gaming benchmarks, Blender workloads, overclocking, and livestreaming benchmarks in our review of the i9-9900K today. Benchmarks include comparative testing versus the Intel i7-8700K, AMD R7 2700 (and overclocked/2700X variant), R7 1700, i9-7900X, 7960X, and more. The full list of primarily featured CPUs is below.
We come bearing good news -- sort of. It looks like DRAM prices might drop 5% by end of year, which would sadly be a sharp change of course from previous targets. This coincides with plummeting SSD prices (250GB 860 EVOs now available for $55 on Amazon), though isn't nearly as severe. At this point, we'll take what we can get.
Separately, Intel's 14nm shortage has continued to a point of creating pipeline stalls for some of its motherboard and SI partners. We previously reported on Intel's push to reinvigorate its 22nm process for low-end chipsets. It is now becoming clear why that was a necessity. Other than this, our show notes below recap major industry news for the past two weeks, like tariffs, 8th Gen pricing increases, and more.
We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.