A couple of months ago we reviewed a few of the newest six-core Intel commercial CPUs that are also used in low-end servers. Intel has also launched some quad-core models, which we are focusing on today. These Xeon E quad-core processors compete directly against AMD's Ryzen Pro product line, focusing on manageability, ECC memory support, and guaranteed product longevity.

Xeon E: the New Xeon E3

When Intel moved away from its Xeon E5/E7 naming scheme for its server processors, there was a substantial outcry from IT procurement everywhere. By removing a system that was well known and replacing it with exotic metal names such as Xeon Platinum, Xeon Gold, Xeon Silver, and Xeon Bronze, everyone knew it would mean relearning Intel's product segmentation rules and also teaching it to the executives that would sign off on purchasing rules. The mainstream server market was not the only one to go through a name change - the popular workstation processor models were renamed Xeon W, and the last domino to fall was the Xeon E3-1200 processor line, now named Xeon Entry, or E for short.

Intel Xeon Naming Strategy
    SNB IVB HSW BDW SKL Future
Servers E7-8000 'v1' v2 v3 v4 Xeon SP Platinum
Xeon SP Gold
Xeon SP Silver
Xeon SP Bronze
E7-4000 'v1' v2 v3 v4
E7-2800 'v1' v2 - -
E5-4600 'v1' v2 v3 v4
E5-2600 'v1' v2 v3 v4
E5-2400 'v1' v2 v3 -
Workstations E5-1600 'v1' v2 v3 v4 Xeon W
  E5-1400 'v1' v2 v3 - - - - -
    SNB IVB HSW BDW SKL KBL CFL CFL-R
Mobile E3-1500M - - - - v5 v6 E-2100 ?
Consumer E3-1200 'v1' v2 v3 v4 v5 v6 E-2100 E-2200?
Comms E3-1100 'v1' v2 - - - - - -
Network Xeon-D - - - D-1500 D-2100
 
     

The latest launch, which would have been the Xeon E3-1200 v7, becomes the first generation of Xeon E-2100, bringing it in line with the workstation processors (Xeon W-2100) and the networking/compute crossover family (Xeon D-2100). Intel launched 11 processors, a range of quad-core and six-core parts, using the Coffee Lake microarchitecture. 

In our previous review, we tackled the six core parts: the E-2186G, the E-2176G, the E-2146G and the E-2136 processors. This time around we are focusing on the quad-core parts we have tested - the E-2174G, the E-2134, and the E-2104G. For these processors, the final digit shows the core count, and the G indicates integrated graphics.

The Xeon E family are derivatives of the consumer processor line, but instead are locked to C236 chipset motherboards but support ECC memory. This means they primarily fit into the commercial market, where businesses will have prebuilt systems with error correcting memory for data safety. These processors also support vPro, enabling management features across a network, and both virtualization options (VT-x and VT-d) that enable the parts for virtualized networks.

 
Xeon E-1274G, Xeon E-1234

The Xeon E-2174G is the top quad-core processor of this line, with hyperthreading and with a 3.8 GHz base frequency and a 4.7 turbo frequency. As we discovered in our six core review, these processors and the motherboard manufacturers tend to stick to the strict Intel defaults when it comes to power management, unlike the consumer motherboard segment. This means we should expect it to perform similar to consumer processors in single-threaded tests, but in multithreaded expect it to max out at its all-core turbo frequency. At 71W for TDP, we would expect this to also be the sustained load power consumption too.


Xeon E-2104G

The E-2134 is a lower clocked variant without graphics, however the E-2104G is far more interesting. This processor is an off roadmap part, meaning it isn't sold to retail or distributors, but to specific OEMs that wanted this configuration. In this case, it is a lower TDP quad-core processor (65W rather than 71W) with no turbo frequency -  3.2 GHz all the time when at load. It still has integrated graphics, but has the lowest turbo frequency at 1100 MHz.


Xeon E-2104G doesn't show up on Intel's Database 'ARK' under Xeon E, as it is off-roadmap

Alternatives to Xeon E

From Intel, if you still want a Xeon, then the Xeon Scalable line has some low frequency six core Bronze processors that are at $350. If you don't need ECC or manageability options, then Intel's consumer parts offer extra performance. 

From AMD, these Xeon Entry processors compete up against the Ryzen Pro family, which offers similar management options (through DASH), as well as ECC support (depending on the motherboard), long term stability, and a wider range of options from eight core to quad core. The Ryzen Pro parts are identical in specifications to their desktop counterparts. For anyone looking for the Ryzen Pro chips in retail packaging though, you're out of luck - AMD only sells these to OEMs. Unfortunately we haven't been sampled these parts either - we only have a solitary SKU I purchased from China with my own money.

Pages In This Review

  1. Analysis and Competition
  2. Test Bed and Setup
  3. 2018 and 2019 Benchmark Suite: Spectre and Meltdown Hardened
  4. CPU Performance: System Tests
  5. CPU Performance: Rendering Tests
  6. CPU Performance: Office Tests
  7. CPU Performance: Encoding Tests
  8. CPU Performance: Web and Legacy Tests
  9. Gaming: Integrated Graphics
  10. Gaming: World of Tanks enCore
  11. Gaming: Final Fantasy XV
  12. Gaming: Shadow of War
  13. Gaming: Civilization 6
  14. Gaming: Ashes Classic
  15. Gaming: Strange Brigade
  16. Gaming: Grand Theft Auto V
  17. Gaming: Far Cry 5
  18. Gaming: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  19. Gaming: F1 2018
  20. Power Consumption
  21. Conclusions and Final Words
Test Bed and Setup
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  • artk2219 - Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - link

    In what world is a GTX 1080 antiquated? Sure its not an RTX 2070+ but that doesn't mean its not in the same performance class. Especially since there is very little consumer software that supports raytracing. Reply
  • ondma - Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - link

    In the world of testing *CPU* performance, where you want to most powerful gpu available to minimize gpu limitations. The 1080 is almost 3 years old, and even worse it is a vanilla 1080, not even the most powerful of its own generation, much less the new generation. Reply
  • bananaforscale - Saturday, March 16, 2019 - link

    It's also common to all the test setups. If the GPU was changed to an RTX 2080Ti AT would have to benchmark all the systems again. Also, Xeons don't go into gaming systems, so the benefit would be questionable. Sure, you are right, but in a way that's kinda irrelevant. Reply
  • Foeketijn - Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - link

    If only Supermicro/Tyan etc, would make an AM4 board. I would probably stop buying xeons. 24/7 build quality, IPMI, ECC and a 2D videocard and they have a new customer.
    I build two AM4 semi WS's and was reminded why I stopped messing around with consumer motherboards. Surprises everywhere. Bios hickups, misuse of power connections etc.
    Reply
  • RSAUser - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    These are Xeons, can't we add benchmarks like hosting a site and seeing how many requests it can handle? You know, things Xeons are actually used for (very rarely for gaming...)?
    That Wattage graph is great, no wattage/performance graph? Xeon lineup, as you stated, usually has strict power requirements, so I'd like to know the performance of those tests based on the power usage.

    And why is there not Thread Ripper if that is the primary line-up these processors are competing with at that price range + ECC memory? (Even though the R5/7 seem to support ECC unofficially depending on the motherboard vendor)
    Reply
  • SaturnusDK - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    If in doubt. All Asrock AM4 MBs support unbuffered ECC RAM. All of them. Reply
  • mode_13h - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    Thanks. Reply
  • GNUminex_l_cowsay - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    Naming a level of graphics settings, IGP, was a bad idea. Frame rates in Civ6 are an uninformative metric of CPU performance, even for the purpose of playing Civ6. Reply
  • mczak - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    The conclusion why the E-2104G doesn't reach its TDP is very much incorrect. Most of that delta to the other chips will be due to the low clocks (without turbo), only a small fraction of it will be due to missing HT.
    (And, FWIW, if you want to really see the max power, you'd also have to run a 3d app like furmark simultaneously, I don't think this was done. Possibly for the other chips it wouldn't make much of a difference, if they stick to their limits, but I'm pretty sure for the e-2104G the power draw would increase substantially. Of course though there's merit in full cpuload only power too, but this isn't the maximum the chip will use.)
    Reply
  • mooninite - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    You should add a section about how to buy these CPUs because they're not retail CPUs. Newegg had them listed for about a month before taking them off.

    Since these are marketed as workstation / entry-server chips why are there no video encoding, SQL, or Java/PHP processing benchmarks?

    Video encoding in particular (VP9) using VAAPI would be helpful.
    Reply

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