UK price (as reviewed): £817.88 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $879.99 (exc. tax)
Despite a massively-reduced price compared to Intel's two previous Skylake-X-derived 10-core CPUs, Intel's Core i9-10900X failed to impress in all but the most niche areas. We're seeing the highest overclock frequencies of any recent Intel HEDT CPUs with Cascade Lake-X, but it's fairly clear that both Intel and AMD's mainstream CPUs pack a big punch these days, meaning anything at the lower end of the HEDT stack is going to struggle to justify itself. That's especially true when HEDT has usually meant significantly more multi-threaded grunt as well as PCIe lanes and memory channels.
Where the Core i9-10900X, with 10 cores and 20 threads offered a lacklustre performance, we're hoping that the Core i9-10940X, which costs a little more than the Ryzen 9 3950X, might give the AMD CPU a run for its money, especially if we're looking at near-5GHz frequencies across all cores. Price-wise, things aren't particularly helpful. The cheapest we could find at a bona fide retailer was £817, which, like most places, currently is a pre-order, but a legitimate one. Any in-stock items have retailed for a lot more, so if you're considering Intel's new 14-core CPU, then you'll need to play a waiting game and don't jump on the first in-stock item. Not ideal, but availability doesn't seem to be Intel's strong point at the moment.
|Base Freq||Turbo Boost Max 2.0 Freq||All-core boost Freq||Turbo Boost Max Tech 3.0 Freq||Cores/Threads||L3 Cache||TDP||Price (USD 1K)|
|Intel Core i9-10980XE||3GHz||4.6GHz||3.8GHz||4.8GHz||18/36||24.75MB||165W||$979|
|Intel Core i9-10940X||3.3GHz||4.6GHz||4.1GHz||4.8GHz||14/28||19.25MB||165W||$784|
|Intel Core i9-10920X||3.5GHz||4.6GHz||4.3GHz||4.8GHz||12/24||19.25MB||165W||$689|
|Intel Core i9-10900X||3.7GHz||4.5GHz||4.3GHz||4.7GHz||10/20||19.25MB||165W||$590|
The Core i9-10940X has one or two lower frequencies compared to the Core i9-10900X, with a 400MHz lower base frequency and 200MHz lower all-core boost. However, it can hit 100MHz higher on the peak Turbo Boost Max 3.0 and 2.0 frequencies, at 4.8GHz and 4.7GHz, respectively. Both CPUs have the same L3 cache amount at 19.25MB and a TDP of 165W. There's an extra 2MB L2 cache, though, and of course, you get an additional four cores and eight threads. The Core i9-10940X is also the last stop before reaching the 18-core flagship, with no 16-core model to compare directly with AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X, so if you need a beastly CPU for around £800, you only have a few options.
It's an important CPU to consider though, as the price cut means the CPU can be had for a little over £800. Yes, that's more than the Ryzen 9 3950X, but with Intel's dominance in some games and content-creation software, it could still edge out a more interesting result than the Core i9-10900X and offer decent all-round performance for a huge amount less cash than AMD's 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadrippers, which, whatever way you look at them, will leave your wallet with a bloody nose by comparison.
February 26 2021 | 22:15