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 7 – System: SiSoftware Sandra

While this article has no lack of synthetic benchmarks, SiSoftware’s Sandra makes it very easy to get reliable performance information on key metrics, such as arithmetic, multimedia, cryptography, and memory. Sandra is designed in such a way that it takes the best advantage of any architecture it’s given, so each CPU always has its best chance to shine.

That means a couple of things. This is definitely the “best” possible performance outlook for any chip, and doesn’t necessary correlate with real-world performance in other tests. It’s best used as a gauge of what’s possible, and to see where one architecture obviously differs from another.

SiSoftware Sandra 2020


SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Multi-media Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

Zen used to be about beating Intel with cores, but Zen 2 is so refined, that it actually goes toe-to-toe with Intel in many cases. Where Intel still has a strong advantage is with its AVX-512 instruction set, exclusive to Xeons and Core X-series chips. The 9980XE’s inclusion allows that chip to keep well ahead of the competition, although we can’t help but wonder where upcoming 32-core Threadripper will place. That’s especially so when we’re seeing the 16-core Zen 2 chip beat out the 32-core second-gen Threadripper.


SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Arithmetic Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

Whereas the multimedia test can utilize AVX-512, the arithmetic benchmark uses AVX2, leveling the playing field a bit. What becomes immediately clear with these results is that raw core count matters a lot, although the 3950X did manage to match the 18-core 9980XE, while at the same time leaping far ahead of the last-gen 2950X.


SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Cryptography (High) Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)
SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Cryptography (Higher) Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

Can you guess which of these results utilize AVX-512? In the regular security test, AMD’s 2990WX again takes the lead, but jumping to 512-bit SHA accelerates nicely with AVX-512. With the first set of results, the 2950X places ahead of the 3950X, leading us to believe that memory bandwidth is heavily favored here. Meanwhile, the 2950X falls a bit in the higher security test, with the 3950X sitting in second place, with nearly half of the overall crypto bandwidth as the 9980XE.

Memory Bandwidth

SiSoftware Sandra 2020 - Memory Bandwidth (AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core Processor)

On the mainstream platform side of things, Intel’s chips sit behind AMD’s, but the enthusiast platforms change that, with Intel taking the definite lead. Clearly, if bandwidth is important to you, you should automatically disqualify mainstream platforms. At least until some vendor decides to bring four-channel controllers to affordable chips.

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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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