Intel Xeon Gold 6256 Review

High-end server processor released in 2020 with 12 cores and 24 threads. With base clock at 3.6GHz, max speed at 4.5GHz, and a 205W power rating. Xeon Gold 6256 is based on the Cascade Lake 14nm family and part of the Xeon Gold series.
Price 12.3%
Speed 87%
Productivity 95%
Gaming 92%
Category Server
Target high-end
Socket Compatibility 3647
Integrated Graphics
Cooler Included
Overclock Potential 0 %
Year 2020 Model
Price 3900 USD
Number of Cores 12 Cores
Number of Threads 24 Threads
Core Frequency 3.6 GHz
Boost Frequency 4.5 GHz
Max Stable Overclock 4.5 GHz
Power Consumption 205 W
Manufacturing Process 14 nm
L3 Cache 33 MB
Maximum Supported Memory 1024 GB
Price-Value Score 12.3 %
Speed Score 87 %
Productivity Score 95 %
Gaming Score 92 %
Max 1080p Bottleneck 20 %
Max 1440p Bottleneck 10 %
Max 4K Bottleneck 5 %
Overall Score 57/100

The Xeon Gold 6256 is one of Intel's high-end Server processors. It was released in 2020 with 12 cores and 24 threads. With base clock at 3.6GHz, max speed at 4.5GHz, and a 205W power rating. The Xeon Gold 6256 is based on the Cascade Lake 14nm family and is part of the Xeon Gold series.

It shouldn’t be too terribly surprising that a 12-core, 24-thread processor with a 4.5GHz boost clock performs like an absolute monster. The Intel Xeon Gold 6256 is straight up the fastest piece of silicon you can buy without wading into the HEDT scene – at least until moving to the Xeon Gold 6258R.

The Intel Xeon Gold 6256 is an absolute behemoth of a processor, as it absolutely should be with its 12 cores, 24 threads and high price tag. If you’re looking for the absolute best processor money can buy on a mainstream processor, then look no further. Whether you’re playing PC games or even doing hardcore video and 3D work, the Intel Xeon Gold 6256 can handle them with ease.

That something is the Xeon Gold 6256. Intel cranks the TDP dial up to 205W on this 12-core 24-thread chip, making it the high-performance counterpart to the 200W Xeon Gold 6254, which is basically the same 14nm chip built with the Cascade Lake microarchitecture, but with a lower TDP rating. That chip came away from our first look at the Cascade Lake series with an Editor's Choice award, going toe-to-toe with AMD's Epyc 7302P, so it's fair to say we have high hopes for the higher-performance model. Intel still hasn't sampled the chip to the press, so we bought one at retail to put it under the microscope.

The Xeon Gold 6256 slots in beneath the Xeon Gold 6258R, which comes with 14nm compute die to yield a 28-core 56-thread part. Intel has worked wonders to reduce the impact of this sort of multi-chip arrangement, but it's fair to assume that the Xeon Gold 6256s single-compute-die design, paired with a higher TDP rating that facilitates more aggressive boost clocks, could actually rival the Xeon Gold 6258R in some applications – games included.

We covered the deep dive details of the Cascade Lake chip design in our Intel Xeon Gold 6258R and Xeon Gold 6254 review, so head there for more information on the Xeon Gold 6256's architecture, which is identical to the Xeon Gold 6254.

As the higher-priced version of the Xeon Gold 6254, the Xeon Gold 6256 has higher base and Boost frequencies of 3.6 and 4.5 GHz, respectively. That's an increase in base frequency and a bump to boost clocks, but the real advantage should lay in the higher Package Power Tracking (PPT) envelope, which is a measurement of the maximum amount of power delivered to the socket. The Xeon Gold 6254's PPT tops out at 200W, while the motherboard can pump up to 142W to the Xeon Gold 6256 at peak performance. That opens up much more aggressive boost behavior, on both single and multiple cores, that could widen the performance gap beyond what we see on the spec sheet.

What this all means is that the Intel Xeon Gold 6256 is an absolute beast when it comes to multi-threaded workloads, especially at this price point. If you're counting on doing some video editing or compiling one hell of an Excel spreadsheet, you're going to see firsthand a performance boost with the Xeon Gold 6256.

The gaming tests with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti installed in the test system showed the Intel Xeon Gold 6256 was more capable than many might have expected. The basic high-end processor from Intel that can be picked up for $3900 was able to out perform the Epyc 7351 that runs $1100 shipped in the three games we tested on. We know that you can’t test on just three games and declare something the overall victor, but it just goes to show that 12-core processors can still manage to get by today. Being able to play current game titles and stream to Twitch on the Xeon Gold 6256 was something we give playable results, but we were pleasantly surprised. As games become more threaded the ‘value’ in a 12-core processor continues to go down, but you can still get by with something like the Xeon Gold 6256 in a pinch.

With Xeon Gold, Intel continues to innovate on its new architecture and 14nm process. Like Xeon Gold, Intel has engineered Xeon Gold to operate on a 3647 chipset with all the modern amenities of computing. This includes support for DDR4 RAM, the fastest NVMe SSDs and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Now the biggest question is can Intel’s Xeon Gold processor play games? The answer is simply yes as it got a respectable gaming score of 92% in our benchmarks.

Regardless of those external factors, the Xeon Gold 6256 proves it has the chops to be your main gaming system and a just as effective media creation platform – two things that are becoming intrinsically connected in this age of live-streaming, eSports and uploading gameplay videos.