by Rob Williams on July 9, 2019 in Processors
How do AMD’s latest CPUs fare in workstation workloads? This article is going to investigate that, pitting the 8-core Ryzen 7 3700X and 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X against a wide-range of tests. Those include audio and video encoding, lots of rendering, photogrammetry, science, and for good measure: gaming.
In recent years, we haven’t had a huge gaming focus in our CPU reviews, simply because we’ve had so much other testing to take care of, some of which isn’t tackled many other places (if anywhere else on a regular basis). But, with such a massive focus on gaming with this launch, we had to renew our focus, and thus, we have three games and a couple of synthetic benchmarks on-hand to help.
For our testing with real games, we’re sticking to testing with 1080p and 4K resolutions. If we’re going to benchmark games, it makes sense to us to run them at realistic resolutions, because a gain seen at 720p or lower quite literally doesn’t matter if there’s no differences seen at higher resolutions people actually play at.
Nonetheless, we’re up for suggestions on how to expand our gaming testing for CPU reviews. We already have a robust collection for our actual gaming GPU reviews, but when testing for CPUs, it can be hard to find good scaling. For this reason, we chose to start with two eSports titles here, as well as a high-end game, Far Cry 5. Synthetics will be shown after the real game results.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The results for both resolutions are interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, Intel clearly has an advantage in this game, delivering 18 FPS more at 1080p, and 7 FPS at 4K, over the 3900X. But… the fact that the 3900X is only behind the 9900K speaks good things about its gaming capabilities so far. Oh – and the 3700X is only behind that. Not bad so far for Zen 2 gaming.
What’s notable for all the wrong reasons is that out-of-the-box, the Threadripper CPUs have an obvious performance detriment in gaming, but as they’ve been targeted at creators more than gamers, that’s fair enough. Now, there is a Game Mode for those chips, which we did not test with for the sake of time, but it will definitely be testing we’ll revisit down-the-road.
Far Cry 5
We’ve moved from a super-high FPS title to one that’s designed to batter current-gen GPUs with the help of some cutting-edge graphics. Even here, the 9900K shines bright, giving us a huge lead at 1080p. At 4K, all of the CPUs largely perform similarly, aside from the 2990WX. Yet, the 9900K still managed to eke that additional 1 FPS over everything else.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Intel can rest a bit easier knowing that the 9900K still rules the roost for gaming. It doesn’t matter the game we’ve thrown at it, it’s come ahead overall. What we haven’t tested thoroughly up to this point is minimums, which is because we want to refine our testing procedures to increase confidence in our numbers. When time allows, we’ll revisit some of this testing, especially in time for the 3950X to drop (this fall).
With this DirectX 11 test, the 3900X somehow manages to place at the top. We say “somehow“, because based on our knowledge of previous performance with these chips, this is not quite the scaling we’d expect. With the overall score, the 3900X falls a couple of spots, but not very far at all. And yes, the second and third GPUs in the overall chart did in fact score the same digits.
With DirectX 12, scaling becomes even more interesting, as the 2990WX now places at the top. And, we of course all know that the 2990WX is one hell of an amazing gaming CPU, right? (Hint: It’s not; just look at the performance from the real games above).
The ultimate takeaway is that the new Zen chips are not exactly holding back much in gaming. But, without question, Intel has the overall lead, which is going to be important for the most serious competitive gamers (or eSports players). At 4K, though, the rule of thumb is to just not go the Threadripper route, because real degradation can be seen there.