Intel Xeon W-3175X Review: 28 cores of blistering performance

Intel's 28-core Xeon W-3175X isn't quite the Threadripper killer, but damn, it gets close.

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Xeon W-3175X Single-threaded Performance

If you bought a very expensive CPU to run single-threaded tests, you overdid it. Still, there’s value in seeing just how fast these particular chips are in much lighter loads. First up is Cinebench R15 where, no surprise, we see Intel’s advantage in clock speeds show up: The Xeon comes in about 11 percent ahead of the Threadripper. Intel has long held the win for single-threaded performance.

If anything, we’re actually surprised the Threadripper is as close as it is, so in some ways, it’s a win for AMD too. We also see the Dynamic Local Mode actually help it slightly.

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In single-threaded performance the Xeon comes in about 10 percent to 11 percent faster, which is almost a win our book.

We an POV Ray using a single thread and, well, surprise, 10 percent. 

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POV Ray puts the two chips about 10 percent apart on light single-threaded loads.

Xeon W-3175X Compression Performance

Next up is performance of the two chips in compression, starting with WinRAR. We’ve been running it long enough to know that Ryzen just doesn’t like it. Besides testing AMD’s DLM mode, we also tested BitSum’s CorePrio free utility, a DLM competitor that also fixes the mysterious problem in Windows that sees performance in some tests simply plummet. Most fingers point to problems with Microsoft Windows scheduler. CorePrio’s NUMA Dissassociator feature implements work discovered by Level1Techs.  

First up is the decompression portion of 7-Zip which is mostly heavy in integer performance. Without the CorePrio utility, The Xeon has and advantage by about 10 percent. With the utility though, it’s mostly a tie. Intel fan, will of course point to 8-fewer threads means Xeon still wins right? But then, AMD fans will point to the dollar amount. So yeah.

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BitSum’s CorePrio utility is worth having on your Threadripper machine

Of more interest to us is the compression performance of 7-Zip. The developer has stated this portion of the test is particularly sensitive to memory bandwidth. As you know, the 32-core Threadripper has four channels of memory bandwidth spread among all of its cores. The new 28-core Xeon has six channels of memory bandwidth. This theoretically gives each core about 27 percent more memory bandwidth at the speeds we tested and you’re likely seeing some of that here.

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We’re saying likely because the memory bandwidth issue in Threadripper may not be as dire as it looked some months ago when we wrote this. With the CorePrio NUMA Dissassocator running we saw the huge gap of 58 percent for the Xeon versus just AMD’s DLM mode (red bar above) pull back to just 31 percent. Sure, 31 percent is still, umm painful when you consider it has more cores and this is a multi-threaded test, but it’s better than 58 percent (green bar above). Expect more on this in the future hopefully. The short answer is: Xeon wins big still.

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Xeon W-3175X Content Creation Performance

Not everyone who might buy these CPUs does only 3D modelling. There’s a good chance they will also do content creation tests, which traditionally lean heavily on the CPU.

Our first test tasks the free and popular HandBrake utility with converting a 4K, 4GB file using the app’s H.265 profile. HandBrake is multi-threaded but it typically won’t use all of the threads of a 32-core, or even 28-core CPU. T

he big winner here is the Xeon, which comes out on top by 17 percent when DLM is off. When DLM is on, the Xeon is actually 21 percent faster.

What’s up? Well, there’s a good chance that where Handbrake maxes out is just in that zone where the Xeon is at its peak performance on clock speeds. Sure, there’s that memory bandwidth thing, but we honestly have not seen memory bandwidth make that much of a difference in most encoding tasks.

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The Xeon wins big in our Handbrake transcode test

Our next test uses Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud 2019 to export a short video shot on a 4K Sony Alpha camera using the app’s Blu-Ray preset for export. Because the resolution changes, we also check off the Maximum Render quality option, which improves visual quality when resizing.

Finally, we do the encoding on the CPU, which some video nerds claim gives you the highest possible quality over GPU encoding. The winner: Xeon by about 15 percent. 

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Our Premiere export puts the Xeon ahead by about 15 percent.

Those who actually use Premiere CC are probably slamming their fists on the table saying, “no one uses the CPU purely for a video encoding anymore!” So yes, we did also encode it out using the GeForce GTX 1080. The win still goes to the Xeon, but it closes to about 11 percent.

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In a GPU encode, the Xeon still has the lead by about 11 percent.

Our next test uses the recently released benchmark test by Puget Systems. The company is famous for its systems and also for its in-depth testing of workstation-level hardware. The test uses Adobe After Effects Creative Cloud 2019 to run through several popular tasks done in After Effects. If you have After Effects, you can download the benchmark here.

Running the AE test on the Xeon and Threadripper, it was basically a dead-even tie between the machines (although Threadripper performance dropped slightly with DLM on). In our book that’s a win for AMD.

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The Threadripper 2990WX and Xeon W-3175X are dead even in Puget’s After Effects benchmark.

Although Adobe Photoshop tends to be pretty easy for any modern computer to run, we did want to see which CPU had the advantage in Puget’s Photoshop test.  Like the After Effects test, it’s free to download from Puget Systems and again—we highly recommend you head over to Puget System’s website if you are interested in this level of professional hardware. It’s simply a treasure trove.

Photoshop rarely loads up the cores of a CPU so the chip with the higher clocks was probably always going to win this and no surprise, the Xeon comes out ahead by about 8 percent.

If you drive Photoshop exclusively, a machine with as many cores as a Threadripper or Xeon is probably way too much.

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The Xeon comes in about 8 percent faster than the Threadripper but you really don’t need either if all you do is Photoshop.

Watch the Xeon juggle multiple tasks on the next page.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Easily the fastest CPU for multi-threaded tasks today
    • A crime not to overclock
    • Pretty much screams in most workloads

    Cons

    • Requires crazy expensive and crazy huge motherboards
    • Sucks down electricity
    • Doesn't offer the value of AMD's Threadripper 2990WX
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