A Seriously Powerful Sub-$1000 CPU: 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

AMD Ryzen Chip Shot - Angled
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by Rob Williams on November 23, 2019 in Processors

Following-up on our previous quick look at AMD’s sixteen-core Ryzen 9 3950X processor, and having (mostly) finished catching up on benchmarking, we now have a much fuller look at overall performance from AMD’s newest wonder chip on-hand. Join us as we explore all of what this chip is made of across many rendering, encoding, and gaming workloads.

Page 1 – AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

We’re not far off from the release of AMD’s new Ryzen Threadrippers or Intel’s new Core X-series chips, but we promised we’d get a full review up of the 3950X, and so, we’re doing it. Last week, we took a quick look at the chip in Windows, and followed-up with a more in-depth look at Linux performance. AMD then impeded this deluge of CPU launches with its Radeon Pro W5700¬†workstation graphics card, so to say we’ve been doing a lot of benchmarking around here would be an understatement.

We’ve already covered the 3950X to a good extent in the aforementioned articles, so we won’t bother repeating ourselves here. We do want to cover some basics, though, for anyone who’s stumbling on this chip for the first time (though it’d be hard to believe, given how hyped it’s been.)

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

We first learned of the 3950X at Computex in June, alongside the big unveil of Zen 2 itself. We remember AMD’s launch event well. You could almost see the hype floating throughout the auditorium, and even some of AMD’s partners found themselves gushing on-stage. Zen 2 was a big launch for AMD, and given what we’re seeing in the market right now, it was a seriously important one, too.

It was only a little over two years ago when AMD launched its eight-core Ryzen chips, at a time when Intel’s Core i7-7700K had only four cores. Fast-forward to now, and we’re seeing sixteen cores in a “mainstream” chip. We use quotes, because $749 certainly doesn’t feel mainstream, but when the AM4 platform lacks a quad-channel memory controller, this 16-core wonder isn’t going to be a replacement for everyone. AMD would rather those customers look forward to the third-gen Ryzen chips, which will soon launch with 24- and 32-core models.

And speaking of models, here’s AMD’s current lineup:

AMD’s Ryzen & Ryzen Threadripper Lineup
CoresClock (Turbo)L2+L3MemoryTDPPrice
Threadripper WX-series
3970X32 (64T)3.7 GHz (4.5)144MBQuad280W$1999
3960X24 (48T)3.8 GHz (4.5)140MBQuad280W$1399
2990WX32 (64T)3.0 GHz (4.2)16+64MBQuad250W$1799
2970WX24 (48T)3.0 GHz (4.2)12+64MBQuad250W$1299
Threadripper X-series
2950X16 (32T)3.5 GHz (4.4)8+32MBQuad180W$899
2920X12 (24T)3.5 GHz (4.3)6+32MBQuad180W$649
Ryzen 9
R9 3950X16 (32T)3.5 GHz (4.7)72MBDual105W$749
R9 3900X12 (24T)3.8 GHz (4.6)70MBDual105W$499
Ryzen 7
R7 3800X8 (16T)3.9 GHz (4.5)36MBDual95W$399
R7 3700X8 (16T)3.6 GHz (4.4)36MBDual65W$329
Ryzen 5
R5 3600X6 (12T)3.8 GHz (4.4)35MBDual95W$249
R5 36006 (12T)3.6 GHz (4.2)35MBDual65W$199
Ryzen w/ Radeon Vega Graphics
R5 3400G4 (8T)3.7 GHz (4.2)0.5+4MBDual65W$149
R3 3200G4 (4T)3.6 GHz (4.0)0.5+4MBDual65W$99

We already know lots about Zen 2, but the question of how third-gen Threadripper will scale lingers. If those big chips scale as their price tags indicate, then AMD is going to be owning the high-end enthusiast platform for some time, since Intel’s not able to spin out more competitive products that quickly (or that we know of). We wish that wasn’t the case, because a more competitive market is a good market. At the same time, we’ve seen AMD accomplish an incredible comeback, and it’s been truly fun to watch.

Whether you’re a mainstream or enthusiast user, chances are good that your new PC, or forthcoming PC, is going to bundle many more cores than a rig you would have bought had AMD not struck back as it has done. It’s a good thing this entire ecosystem is getting drizzled in cores, because the interest in creator workflows has never been higher.

Before we get into testing, there are a couple of things we’ll mention from the get-go. First, we didn’t get to test as many CPUs for this article as we hoped, simply because our test suite takes so long to run (something we’ll fix at some point, but first, we preferred to make our tests actually good.) That results in the 2920X and 2970WX Threadrippers being left-out, as well as Intel’s Core i7-8700K in most tests. Neither of these will be tested further for the next round of CPU reviews, since there’s simply no time.

We will of course be publishing performance soon for AMD’s and Intel’s chips that are soon launching, but as we did with this 3950X review, we may kick things off with a Linux look, only because it’s so quick to clear in comparison to Windows. We’ll work on getting Windows performance up afterwards, stat.

Without further ado, let’s move onto a look at the test systems and methodologies; or, you can simply head to page 3 to get started with our performance look.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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