Conclusion: Price Makes Perfect

When you buy a system, ask yourself – what matters most to you?

Is it gaming performance?
Is it bang-for-buck?
Is it all-out peak performance?
Is it power consumption?
Is it performance per watt?

I can guarantee that out of the AnandTech audience, we will have some readers in each of these categories. Some will be price sensitive, while others will not. Some will be performance sensitive, others will be power (or noise) sensitive. The point here is that the Xeon W-3175X only caters to one market: high performance.

We tested the Xeon W-3175X in our regular suite of tests, and it performs as much as we would expect – it is a 28 core version of the Core i9-9980XE, so in single threaded tests it is about the same, but in raw multi-threaded tests it performs up to 50% better. For rendering, that’s great. For our variable threaded tests, the gains are not as big, from either no gain at all to around 20% or so. This is the nature of increasing threads – at some point, software hits Amdahl’s law of scaling and more threads does nothing. However, for software that isn’t at that point, the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball.

Corona 1.3 Benchmark

For our graphs, some of them had two values: a regular value in orange, and one in red called 'Intel Spec'. ASUS offers the option to 'open up' the power and current limits of the chip, so the CPU is still running at the same frequency but is not throttled. Despite Intel saying that they recommend 'Intel Spec', the system they sent to us to test was actually set up with the power limits opened up, and the results they provided for us to compare to internally also correlated with that setting. As a result, we provided both sets results for our CPU tests.

For the most part, the 'opened up' results scored better, especially in multithreaded tests, however Intel Spec did excel in memory bound tests. This is likely because in the 'opened up' way, there is no limit to keeping the high turbo which means there could be additional stalls for memory based workloads. In a slower 'Intel Spec' environment, there's plenty of power for the mesh and the memory controllers do deal with requests as they come.

Power, Overclockability, and Availability

Two-and-a-half questions hung over Intel during the announcement and launch of the W-3175X. First one was power, second was overclockability, and two-point-five was availability.

On the power side of the equation, again the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball, and this baby is on fire. While this chip has a 255W TDP, the turbo max power value is 510W – we don’t hit that at ‘stock’ frequency, which is more around the 300W mark, but we can really crank out the power when we start overclocking.

This processor has a regular all-core frequency of 3.8 GHz, with AVX2 at 3.2 GHz and AVX-512 at 2.8 GHz. In our testing, just by adjusting multipliers, we achieved an all-core turbo of 4.4 GHz and an AVX2 turbo of 4.0 GHz, with the systems drawing 520W and 450W respectively. At these frequencies, our CPU was reporting temperatures in excess of 110ºC! This processor is actually rated with a thermal shutoff at 120ºC, well above the 105ºC we see with regular desktop processors, which shows that perhaps Intel had to bin these chips enough that the high temperature profile was required.

On the question of availability, this is where the road is not so clear. Intel is intending only to sell these processors through OEMs and system integrators as part of pre-built systems only, for now. We’ve heard some numbers about how many chips will be made (it’s a low four-digit number), but we can only approximately confirm those numbers given one motherboard vendor also qualified how many boards they were building.

One of Anand’s comments I will always remember during our time together at AnandTech was this:

“There are no bad products, only bad prices.”

According to OEMs we spoke to, initially this processor was going to be $8k. The idea here is that being 28-core and unlocked, Intel did not want to consume its $10k Xeon market. Since then, distributors told us that the latest information they were getting was around $4500, and now Intel is saying that the recommended consumer price is $3000. That’s not Intel’s usual definition of ‘per-1000 units’, that’s the actual end-user price. Intel isn’t even quoting a per-1000 unit price, which just goes to substantiate the numbers we heard about volume.

At $8000, this CPU would be dead in the water, only suitable for high-frequency traders who could eat up the cost within a few hours of trading. At $4500, it would be a stretch, given that 18-core on Intel is only $2099, and AMD offers the 32-core 2990WX for $1799 which surpasses the performance per dollar on any rendering task.

At $2999, Intel has probably priced this one just right.

At $2999, it's not a hideous monstronsity that some worried it would be, but instead becomes a very believeable progression from the Core i9-9980XE. Just don’t ask about the rest of the system, as an OEM is probably looking at a $7k minimum build, or $10k end-user shelf price.

Gaming: F1 2018


View All Comments

  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    @Ian: Thanks for the review. I guess the "lower" price of this 28-core Xeon shows the benefit of having strong competition in the market - without the large Threadrippers, that price wouldn't have come down from the $ 8,000 mark.
    Two questions: I am still struck by how often the higher-end "consumer" grade CPUs beat the pants off the many-core monsters. Is high single-thread performance still that dominant in the applications in which the 9900K or 2700x lead the pack?
    Second, did Intel really recommend to plug this monster directly into a wall outlet? If yes, wow. Guess you need a surge-protected, line-conditioned house line then, so not exactly standard equipment. Having encountered brownouts and voltage spikes, I wouldn't plug even a $ 500 PC straight into an unprotected household socket, never mind a $ 7,000 rig. I guess if that's what they recommend, it doesn't void the warranty when stuff happens.
    My other comment is that this chip is really about workstation-type tasks, and while I know that coming up with more workstation-specific test suites is too specialized, that's where these Xeons and the big Threadrippers start making sense.
    Regarding gaming: As you also hint at, much of that $ 3,000 budget for the CPU would be better spend on two or more high-end graphics cards (2080 GTX), all liquid cooling, a hand-selected eight core CPU, and a large, ultra-wide aspect fast refresh HDR-capable monitor.
  • zepi - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Ian is working in UK. He has most likely something like 230V single phase 80A feed-in to his house, if not 100 or even 120A, depending if he has electric heating or gas.

    One main fuse for that surely. Then that phase is split to some smaller circuits feeding into separate rooms & sockets etc. probably 8-16A fuses. Some stronger ones (30+A) if he has electric heaters in the taps / shower without using a boiler & heating circuits.

    Then another fuse in each wall socket. And most likely a fourth fuse inside the actual cable.

    And @230V, the cable "only" needs to support 7A, so it is actually nothing spectacular.

    1500W devices are perfectly fine in Europe, mostly because of the 230V voltage. It just makes things much easier.
  • SaturnusDK - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Many if not most European households have 3 phase 230V 16A power, so you can power standard 400V appliances. Reply
  • BushLin - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    In the UK a standard wall outlet is rated for 13A. Our kettles are nearly all 3KW. We value our tea and have built our homes around it. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    But then, your kettle doesn't require clean sine wave AC current, and won't suffer much if the voltage drops or spikes. In contrast, an expensive rig like this might. My comment wasn't about overall power need of this setup, but my surprise over the "unfiltered wall socket is fine" instruction from Intel. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    I am quite familiar with the situation in Europe. But, even there, I wouldn't just trust a regular power outlet (220 or 230 V) to provide clean sine power free from interference, voltage drops (brownouts) and voltage spikes, and neither do several friends of mine who live and work in Europe. They also use, at minimum, a good surge protector, and, for expensive systems, a UPS and line conditioner, just like we do here in the States. Reply
  • SaturnusDK - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Surge protection is built into all regulatory fuse boxes so you don't need that in Europe since 2003 unless the building hasn't been updated to the current building code. Also before 2003 it was 220V in Europe and 240V in the UK. Now it's just 230V everywhere. Last there was a registered brown out in the area I live and work was February 1987... almost 32 years ago. In many areas of Europe it's not even worth considering as a risk anymore. You still need an UPS for obvious reasons though. Reply
  • maroon1 - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    At least it is faster and has more consistence performance than 2990WX. Gaming performance also much better without the need to disable cores like you do for 2990WX Reply
  • tamalero - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    I'm still scratching my head on who would buy this thing for "gaming" o_O Reply
  • alacard - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Damn Ian you're on a roll with this on the heels of your incredible Intel's 10nm Cannon Lake and Core i3-8121U Deep Dive Review. Do you ever sleep?

    There's so much talent here that all you guys really should quit working for Purch and start your own independent tech site where the ads are reasonable and not exploitative. I can imagine everyone running straight to it and supporting it. Make it run on small ads and donations and you'd probably make out like kings.

    Purch doesn't deserve you, period. Takes your talents elsewhere.

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