Intel and AMD have both been exploring just what kind of high-end chips the consumer market will bear in recent years, with high-profile updates and improvements to products like Threadripper and the Core X family, respectively. Intel’s latest ultra-high-end chip, the 14-core Core i9-9990XE, isn’t even available to OEMs via the traditional purchasing paths. Instead, OEMs can bid at auction to purchase these products.
Unlike the Core i-9980XE or similar chips, the major draw of the Core i9-9990XE isn’t its raw core count, but its blend of core counts and frequency. Not every workload scales indefinitely or particularly well past a certain point. 18-core and 28-core CPUs are incredibly useful in the right circumstances, but their general utility suffers as their core counts rise. This 14-core chip is clearly positioned at the bleeding edge of what Intel feels is a balance between speed and raw threads, and Puget Systems bought one of the chips at auction to put it through its paces.
The max turbo frequency of 5.1GHz and the all-core boost of 5GHz make this CPU the fastest overall part that Intel ships. Puget has published specific articles discussing the Core i9-9990XE’s performance in Pix4D, Lightroom Classic, After Effects 2019, Premiere Pro 2019, and Photoshop 2019. Each of the links above points to a separate article, even if CMS formatting makes the links bleed together. Puget opted to separate this coverage into multiple, individual stories.
Puget’s overall conclusion on the chip is nuanced and application-specific. Whether or not it’s the right core for you will depend significantly on whether or not you have a small fortune to buy one and exactly how much you need every last ounce of performance, power consumption be damned.
Puget’s overall conclusion is much as you might expect, based on the specifics of the CPU. Is it incredibly fast? Yes. Does it cleanly justify its purchase price in any specific application? The answer there is a carefully worded “Well, you’ve got to really have a need for speed.”
Overall, we’d say Intel hit its goal in terms of offering a CPU that can push past even the mighty Core i9-9900K in both frequency and core count tests. But given that we literally can’t even give you a price quote on the chip, the old adage “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it,” has never seemed truer. The vast majority of performance-hungry enthusiasts will be better off with another option, even as we acknowledge that the Core i9-9990XE offers the best performance for certain classes of work.
- Intel Core i9-9900K Review: Welcome to an Intel-AMD 8-Core Slugfest
- Intel’s Next 5GHz CPU May Lack Price Tag, Launch as Auction-Only
- Intel Launches New 18-Core Core i9-9980XE CPU