Workstation Powerhouses: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 16-core 2950X & 32-core 2990WX Review

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd-gen Packaging
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by Rob Williams on August 13, 2018 in Processors

Just as we were starting to believe that 16-core CPUs were amazing, AMD has come along and dropped a 32-core bombshell. It’s called Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, a workstation chip that cuts through renderers like butter. We’re putting it up against the forthcoming 2950X, and six other unsuspecting processors.

Test Methodology & Systems

Benchmarking a CPU may sound like a simple enough task, but in order to deliver accurate, repeatable results, and not to mention results that don’t favor one vendor over another, strict guidelines need to be adhered to. That in turn makes for rigorous, time-consuming testing, but we feel that the effort is worth it.

This page exists so that we can be open about how we test, and give those who care about testing procedures an opportunity to review our methodology before flaming us in the comments. Here, you can see a breakdown of all of our test machines, specifics about the tests themselves, and other general information that might be useful.

Let’s start with a look at the test platforms, for AMD’s TR4 (MSI’s MEG X399 Creation and Aorus’ X399 GAMING 7) and AM4 (ASUS’ CROSSHAIR VII HERO), along with Intel’s LGA2011-v3 (ASUS’ ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING), and LGA1151 (EVGA Z370 FTW).

To prevent unexpected performance results, the “Multi-Core Enhancement” optimizations (effectively overclocking all cores to max turbo, instead of just two cores) offered by ASUS on its respective motherboards is disabled. There is, however, an exception. For Ryzen 2 testing, I had to use the DOCP profile on the motherboard to take proper advantage of the memory kit (though it doesn’t appear to overclock anything with the basic settings).

All platforms were run with DDR4-3200 speeds, and 14-14-14 timings. This is the first time in the history of the site that we’ve been able to benchmark multiple platforms against each other with identical memory configurations (all thanks to the fact that I could benchmark two rigs at once since AMD included a perfectly spec’d memory kit to complement the other – cheers to whoever decided that one). Host and scratch disk SSDs were also identical between all systems, so this is as true apples-to-apples as we can get.

Here’s the full breakdown of the test rigs:

Techgage’s CPU Testing Platforms

AMD TR4 Test Platform #1
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX (3.0GHz, 32C/64T)
MotherboardMSI MEG X399 Creation
CPU tested with BIOS 1.0EN43 (Jul 27, 2018)
MemoryG.SKILL TridentZ (F4-3200C14-8GTZ) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 398.82)
StorageHost OS: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Scratch Drive: Samsung 970 EVO 512GB (NVMe)
Power SupplyCooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid (1300W)
ChassisCooler Master MasterCase H500P Mesh
CoolingCooler Master Wraithripper Tower Cooler
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 17134), Ubuntu 18.04 (4.15 kernel)
AMD TR4 Test Platform #2
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X (3.5GHz, 16C/32T)
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (3.4GHz, 16C/32T)
MotherboardGIGABYTE X399 Aorus Gaming 7
CPU tested with BIOS F10 (July 10, 2018)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 398.82)
StorageHost OS: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Scratch Drive: Samsung 970 EVO 512GB (NVMe)
Power SupplyEnermax RevoBron 80+ Bronze (600W)
ChassisEnermax Equilence
CoolingEnermax Liqtech TR4 AIO (240mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 17134), Ubuntu 18.04 (4.15 kernel)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View

There’s not too much to say here outside of the fact that since I wanted to keep the 2990WX to its own machine for further testing, the 2950X was tested in the same motherboard as the 1950X. That gave me a chance to test a new Threadripper in a year-old motherboard, and I can report it was flawless (I flashed the latest EFI with the 1950X still in the board, which made things a touch easier).


AMD AM4 Test Platform
ProcessorsAMD Ryzen 7 2700X (3.7GHz, 8C/16T)
MotherboardASUS Crosshair VII HERO Wi-Fi
CPU tested with BIOS 0804 (July 9, 2018)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 398.82)
StorageHost OS: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Scratch Drive: Samsung 970 EVO 512GB (NVMe)
Power SupplyEVGA Bronze 600B1 (600W)
ChassisFractal Design Define C
CoolingNoctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 (1x120mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 17134), Ubuntu 18.04 (4.15 kernel)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration

Nothing special had to be done on the CROSSHAIR VII HERO to get up and running quickly. As covered above, I had to run with the DOCP Standard profile to get the memory to run at optimum settings. Again, in testing, I couldn’t see how that improves performance outside of applying the proper memory settings, so I believe the setting requires further input for an actual boost to performance (eg: overclocking).


Intel LGA2011-3 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i9-7980XE (2.6GHz, 18C/36T)
Intel Core i9-7960X (2.8GHz, 16C/32T)
Intel Core i9-7900X (3.3GHz, 10C/20T)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING
CPU tested with BIOS 1004 (Nov 14, 2017)
MemoryG.SKILL TridentZ (F4-3200C14-8GTZ) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 398.82)
StorageHost OS: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Scratch Drive: Samsung 970 EVO 512GB (NVMe)
Power SupplyCorsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 (1200W)
ChassisCorsair Carbide 600C
CoolingNZXT Kraken X62 AIO (280mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 17134), Ubuntu 18.04 (4.15 kernel)
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7980XE
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7960X
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7900X
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches

This ASUS motherboard tries to trick us into accepting core boost optimizations after selecting the XMP profile. That’s disregarded, to keep things as apples-to-apples as possible.


Intel LGA1151 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-8700K (3.7GHz, 6C/12T)
MotherboardEVGA Z370 FTW
CPU tested with BIOS 1.08 (March 20, 2018)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 398.82)
StorageHost OS: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Scratch Drive: Samsung 970 EVO 512GB (NVMe)
Power SupplyCorsair RM650X (1200W)
ChassisNZXT S340 Elite Mid-tower
CoolingCorsair Hydro H100i V2 AIO Liquid Cooler (240mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 17134), Ubuntu 18.04 (4.15 kernel)
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-8700K
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View

There’s nothing to report here at all. EVGA doesn’t have weird boosts built-in, which makes it a great platform for benchmarking with. Its biggest offense is that the EFI is garish.

Testing Considerations

For the bulk of our testing, we use Windows 10 build 17134 with full updates as the base. Our basic guidelines are:

  • Everything is disabled in “Customize settings” during OS install.
  • 3D Vision and GeForce Experience are not installed with the graphics driver.
  • Services are disabled: Search, Cortana, User Account Control, and Defender.
  • Most preinstalled Windows Store bloatware is uninstalled.
  • The “Ultimate Performance” power profile is used, and screen timeouts are disabled.
  • All notifications are disabled.
  • Desktop resolution is run at 2560×1440.
  • Testing doesn’t begin until the PC is idle (keeps a steady minimum wattage).
  • OSes are never transplanted from one machine to another. Everything is installed fresh on each platform.
  • The “This PC” icon is added to the desktop (you can’t hide it from me, Microsoft!!)

Encoding Tests

Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Adobe Dimension CC
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Arnold in Maya 2018
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Blender
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Cinebench
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Cinema 4D
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Corona in 3ds Max 2019
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: POV-Ray
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Rendering: Radeon ProRender in Maya 2018
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3 dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Rendering: V-Ray Next in 3ds Max 2019
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Rendering: V-Ray Benchmark
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

Adobe Premiere Pro
Agisoft PhotoScan
DaVinci Resolve
HandBrake
LameXP
MAGIX Vegas

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


Rendering Tests

Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: Adobe Premiere Pro (Media Encoder)
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: Agisoft PhotoScan
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: Capture One
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: DaVinci Resolve
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: HandBrake
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Encoding: LameXP
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View

Adobe Dimension
Arnold (Maya 2018) (Also relevant to: 3ds Max, C4D, Houdini, Katana, Softimage)
Blender
Cinebench
Cinema 4D
Corona (3ds Max 2019) (Also relevant to: C4D)
KeyShot
POV-Ray
Radeon ProRender (Maya 2018) (Also relevant to: 3ds Max, Blender, C4D, SolidWorks)
V-Ray Next (3ds Max 2019) (Also relevant to: C4D, Houdini, Maya, Rhino, SketchUp)
V-Ray Benchmark
SiSoftware Sandra 2018

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


Gaming Tests

UL 3DMark

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)

Linux Tests

Ubuntu 18.04 is the OS of choice for our Linux testbed, as it’s both simple to set up, and so de facto that everyone reading the results should feel at home. The OS is left as stock as possible, with minor software added, and everything updated.

Before testing begins, we take the Phoronix Test Suite suggestion of enabling the “performance” power profile. That command is (as sudo):

echo performance | tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_governor

Blender - Pavillon (Linux)

Compiling
Compression
Encryption
Scientific Analysis
HandBrake
Blender
Ray Tracing

(You can click each name to go straight to that result.)


If you think there’s some information lacking on this page, or you simply want clarification on anything in particular, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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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