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

AMD Ryzen Chip Shot - Angled
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 4 – Encoding: Adobe Lightroom, BRAW Speed Test, HandBrake & LameXP

On this page, we’re going to be tackling a few additional encoding-type projects. Since the beginning of its life, we’ve benchmarked with Adobe’s Lightroom, but dropped it for about a year or two because it wouldn’t reliably scale. Over time, things changed, and now the application seems pretty efficient on multi-core CPUs.

In addition to Lightroom, we’ve also added Blackmagic RAW Speed Test, which acts as a simple way to see how a CPU can handle playback of BRAW footage at different compression levels. In time, we’ll be adding a much fuller Resolve test to the suite, but this BRAW test fills in for now. Finally, we’re also testing with LameXP, an open-source music encoder that can take advantage of many-core CPUs, as well as the super-popular HandBrake transcoder.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Adobe Lightroom Classic
Adobe Lightroom Classic - RAW to JPEG Export Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

We don’t really remember a time when AMD’s done particularly great at Adobe Lightroom tests, and we’ve often just chalked it up to being due to Intel’s generally strong multi-media performance. Well, Zen 2, with all of its cache in tow, is here to show Intel who’s boss. But… not without oddities.

For whatever reason, our Lightroom test generates a worse result on the 3950X than the 3900X, which is something we validated through repeated testing (although this can be seen as Adobe still favoring faster cores over more cores, at least to a point). We’ll of course continue to test as time goes on, and as new versions of Lightroom get released. To AMD’s favor, even with that performance oddity, it doesn’t hurt Zen 2’s overall ranking. All four of the non-Threadripper chips dominate the chart here.

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test
Blackmagic RAW Speed Test (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

According to Blackmagic’s official RAW Speed Test, Intel rules the roost with this one. The 18-core 9980XE sits comfortably at the top, with AMD’s 16-core 3950X sitting just behind it. While AMD’s 3950X didn’t lead this test, it sure managed to obliterate the performance of the 2950X, also packing 16 cores.


HandBrake AVC Encode Performance - (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)
HandBrake HEVC Encode Performance - (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

AMD is making this review pretty easy to write, because it winds up topping half of the charts. HandBrake is no exception – it appears that extra cache is being put to really good use here. Again compare the performance between the 3950X and 2950X. The generational gains are really impressive.


LameXP - FLAC to MP3 Encode Performance - (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

Music conversion is a workload that loves extra cores – as long as the tool chosen can support them. We use LameXP because it allows us to encode as many files at once as the software can manage, and not surprisingly, that leads AMD to have a strong lead here with its highly optimized 3950X. There’s only so much importance cores have here, though, as the 32-core once again proves. Despite having four fewer cores, the 2950X sits just behind it.

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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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