Tech reviews

ASRock X299 Taichi CLX Motherboard Review With Intel Core i9-10980XE


ASRock X299 Tacihi CLX

November, 2019

Type Motherboard

Price $399.99 US

Four years ago, Intel was the undisputed leader of the high-end desktop market. Intel’s Extreme Edition processors were the top of the line chips that people could buy and their accompanying platform was unrivaled in the industry.

However, we can’t say the same in 2019. Intel’s HEDT has seen no major change in the last two years. We get the same platform and the same underlying architecture with no increase in core and thread count. Even the platform remains unchanged and Intel’s AIB partners are to take credit for their efforts to make the X299 platform still feel refreshing.

AMD: We Never Dreamed We Would Be Ahead Of Intel

Technically, Intel’s 10th Gen X-series lineup isn’t anything to get excited about aside from a slight clock speed bump but what’s noteworthy is the pricing. Intel’s latest pricing strategy was to make 10th Gen X-series processors more competitive in performance per dollar by slashing off major $$$ from their lineup. Intel claimed up to 2.09x better performance per dollar on the new X-series line compared to Skylake-X. Here, Intel is simply comparing their Core i9-7980XE, a $1999 US CPU with their $979 US Core i9-10980XE.

But since Intel announced their 10th Gen X-series parts, AMD introduced the Ryzen 9 3950X. A 16 core chip with Zen 2 cores for a price of $749 US. The processor is supported by the mainstream AM4 platform which means that the cost of building a 16 core PC is now cheaper than Intel’s line. That may also explain why the lineup launching today is missing a 16 core part, but existed in the previous 7th Gen and 9th Gen X-series lineup.

AMD Threadripper vs Intel Core – More Than Just Core Wars

Before I start this review, let’s take a quick recap of the core wars that’s been going on since the beginning of 2017 between AMD and Intel. Prior to 2017, the industry was used to the annual 4 core mainstream and 8/10 core high-end desktop refreshes that Intel produced. Intel was also on top of the game since AMD’s Bulldozer (and its various iterations) didn’t pose a major threat and Zen was still under development.

Intel CPU ‘Plundervolt’ Flaw Spills Secrets Through Voltage Manipulation

So how did Intel go from the leader of the HEDT space to being crushed by AMD’s mainstream chip platform? You are expecting me to blame Intel’s reliance on 14nm for this issue and while it is a factor, it isn’t as big as some other bad decisions that went into Intel’s HEDT lineup, starting with the 7th Generation Core-X series. You see, back in 2017, there was no AMD HEDT lineup and Intel was considered to be the bleeding-edge HEDT offerer in the market space. While AMD had started pushing Intel to offer more cores in the mainstream segment (e.g. four cores flagship on Kaby Lake vs 6 cores flagship on Coffee Lake), they weren’t expecting or rightly put, weren’t in the mood to innovate their HEDT lineup any time soon.

Then 1st Gen Threadripper happened and we all know how AMD caught Intel with their pants down. The problem wasn’t that Intel didn’t have the platform to compete against AMD, it’s more to do with their laziness on how they wanted to continue offering 10 cores / 20 thread chips as flagship HEDT parts for years to come. You see, Intel had the technology to offer 12 cores and 24 threads back in their Ivy Bridge generation, 18 cores and 36 threads in the Haswell generation and same in the Skylake generation. However, knowing they dominated the market, the didn’t see the reason to innovate the HEDT space anytime soon.

HEDT & Mainstream Segment Core/Thread Count Race:

Year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
AMD HEDT N/A 16 / 32 32 / 64 32 / 64 64 / 128
Intel HEDT 10 / 20 18 / 36 18 / 36 18 / 36
28 / 56 (Xeon W-3175X)
18 / 36
28 / 56 (Xeon W-3175X)
AMD Mainstream 8 / 8 8 / 16 8 / 16 16 / 32 16 /32
Intel Mainstream 4/8 6 / 12 8 / 16 8 / 16 10 / 20

So what do you when your darkest nightmare comes true? Rush to rebadge Xeon parts which could’ve been done early on and don’t give partners enough time to evaluate your new chips on their products, resulting in a botched launch. Intel’s first Core-X lineup was a mess and that is why it took Intel 3 generations just to fix the problems of their first X-series lineup.

The 3 years of Threadrippers have also been building up to this moment. While Intel was fixing their X-series lineup, AMD was gaining on both fronts, the market and mind share. You have to sacrifice margins for market share gains and word of mouth to spread before you start hiking up prices for higher profits.

AMD’s Threadrippers are repurposed EPYC chips just like how Intel’s Core X processors are repurposed Xeon chips that couldn’t pass the server-level qualifications. This was another factor, which if Intel could’ve considered earlier on, wouldn’t get their HEDT lineup into so much trouble. AMD was willing to cut the profit margins offering the same core counts of their EPYC lineup on the Threadripper parts. Intel might have downplayed the fact that in the coming years, AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper core count would match the EPYC lineup. This is a superb game played by AMD where their first-generation Threadripper had half the core count of EPYC Naples and only the second generation that launched a year later offered the full 32 cores. This is changing with 3rd generation as the Threadripper 3990X will be carrying 64 cores, same as the top-end EPYC chip.

Intel HEDT Processor Families:

Intel HEDT Family Gulftown Sandy Bridge-E Ivy Bridge-E Haswell-E Broadwell-E Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Cascade Lake-X
Process Node 32nm 32nm 22nm 22nm 14nm 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm++
Flagship SKU Core i7-980X Core i7-3960X Core i7-4960X Core i7-5960X Core i7-6950X Core i9-7980XE Core i9-9980XE Xeon W-3175X Core i9-10980XE
Max Cores/Threads 6/12 6/12 6/12 8/16 10/20 18/36 18/36 28/56 18/36
Clock Speeds 3.33/3,60 GHz 3.30/3.90 GHz 3.60/4.00 GHz 3.00/3.50 GHz 3.00/3.50 GHz 2.60/4.20 GHz 3.00/4.50 GHz 3.10/4.30 GHz 3.00 / 4.80 GHz
Max Cache 12 MB L3 15 MB L3 15 MB L3 20 MB L3 25 MB L3 24.75 MB L3 24.75 MB L3 38.5 MB L3 24.75 MB L3
Max PCI-Express Lanes (CPU) 32 Gen2 40 Gen2 40 Gen3 40 Gen3 40 Gen3 44 Gen3 44 Gen3 44 Gen3 44 Gen3
Chipset Compatiblity X58 Chipset X79 Chipset X79 Chipset X99 Chipset X99 Chipset X299 X299 C612E X299
Socket Compatiblity LGA 1366 LGA 2011 LGA 2011 LGA 2011-3 LGA 2011-3 LGA 2066 LGA 2066 LGA 3647 LGA 2066
Memory Compatiblity DDR3-1066 DDR3-1600 DDR3-1866 DDR4-2133 DDR4-2400 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2800 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2933
Max TDP 130W 130W 130W 140W 140W 165W 165W 255W 165W
Launch Q1 2010 Q4 2011 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q2 2016 Q3 2017 Q4 2018 Q4 2018 Q4 2019
Launch Price $999 US $999 US $999 US $1059 US $1700 US $1999 US $1979 US ~$4000 US $979 US

AMD is also taking Intel’s position, becoming the leader of the HEDT market but at the same time, not let this platform become stagnant. AMD is aware that eventually, Intel will have a response which is the next topic I want to shed light on, so they want to stay on the high-ground whenever Intel tackles them, but also try to maximize profits when there is no competition which we can get a slight hint of from the 3rd Gen Threadripper prices. AMD is easing up on the prices and only Intel themselves is to blame. You can read our review of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X here.

As for this review, I will be taking a look at the Intel Core i9-10980XE on ASRock’s brand new X299 Taichi CLX motherboard. The Core i9-10980XE retails for $979 US as of today while the ASRock X299 Taichi CLX has a retail price of $399 US. This is a slightly higher price than the $289.99 US X299 Taichi and the $299.99 US X299 Taichi XE which we have also reviewed previously in their respective links listed below:


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