A Real HEDT CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X & 3970X Workstation Performance Review

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Chip Shot Thumbnail
by Rob Williams on November 29, 2019 in Processors

We’ve already put AMD’s newest Ryzen Threadripper chips through our Linux test gauntlet, so it’s now time to shift our focus back to Windows, where we have an even more daunting number of tests to cover. It won’t take long to notice a trend: AMD’s 24-core 3960X and 32-core 3970X are ridiculously fast processors.

Page 6 – Rendering: Cinebench, Cinema 4D, Corona, LuxMark, POV-Ray

We covered a handful of major renderers on the previous page, but we’re not done yet. On this page, we’re going to take a look at a few more, including some industry mainstays and newbies. That includes Corona Renderer, which we recently upgraded to version 5. We’re foregoing Adobe Dimension performance for this review, since we haven’t seen realistic scaling with the new version 3.0, and have not yet been able to investigate (typical Adobe new-release teething problems).

To give you an opportunity to test your own hardware against ours, we’re also including the ever-popular Cinebench standalone benchmark, which represents current R20 performance. This test, along with the latest version of POV-Ray, act as our only single-threaded angles in the article. For good measure, the performance on this page will be capped off the real Cinema 4D, to see how it agrees with CB.

Cinema 4D R21

Maxon Cinema 4D R21
Maxon Cinema 4D R21 - Candies Render Performance (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)
Maxon Cinema 4D R21 - Interior Render Performance (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)

We’re going to be overhauling our Cinema 4D tests in the near-future, both with better projects, and if all goes well, a viewport test. For now, we’re sticking to the same projects we’ve been using for the past couple of years. Now, if you think back to a “couple of years” ago, the best any enthusiast could buy was a 10-core. Today, we have 32 cores available, and with these results, we can see that Cinebench can take advantage of every single one of them.

Somehow, the 16- and 24-core Zen 2 chips scored the same in the interior render, even after retesting, and despite the scaling being just fine all-around in the (simpler) Candies render. At least we’re not seeing some actually detrimental loss in performance, as we have seen with the last-gen 24+ core Threadrippers.

Cinebench R20

Maxon Cinebench R20 - Multi-threaded Score (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)
Maxon Cinebench R20 - Single-threaded Score (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)

It’s hard to be surprised with the results here, given not just what we’ve seen of the previous Zen 2 chips, but also what we saw with the real-world Cinema 4D above. The project Maxon chose for this benchmark seems pretty neutral overall, given how things scale – at least on the multi-thread side of things. For peak single-thread, AMD owns this benchmark, with the 9900KS not trailing far behind.

Corona Renderer

Corona 5 in 3ds Max
Chaos Czech Corona Renderer 5 Performance - Livingroom Scene (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)
Chaos Czech Corona Renderer 5 Performance - Sales Gallery Scene (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)

We’ve gone over many renderers by this point already, and like the rest, Corona shows that the new Threadrippers can seriously tear up a rendering workload. It’s worth comparing the new 32-core to the last-gen 32-core once again. When is the last time you saw these kinds of generational gains on a desktop processor?


LuxMark v4
LuxMark Food (C++) Render Performance (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)
LuxMark Hall Bench (C++) Render Performance (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)

With the C++ renderer in LuxMark using Intel’s Embree ray tracing kernels, it’d be easy to assume that Intel simply has an edge by default. And well, the results here imply that too. In LuxMark, Intel CPUs definitely enjoy a speed-up, allowing the 18-core chips to fly past every AMD chip in the Hall Bench render. We also happen to test Embree in our Linux tests, and there, AMD’s new Threadripper led the pack. Just when you thought you could predict a workload!


POV-Ray 3.8 Multi-threaded Score (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)
POV-Ray 3.8 Single-threaded Score (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X & 3960X)

We wrap up our rendering tests with one of the classics, POV-Ray. Cinebench really does seem to get the lion’s share of the standalone benchmark attention, but we’ve been using POV-Ray for about just as long. We featured both in our Core 2 Extreme QX6850 review in 2007. Twelve years ago, the best desktop processor had four cores and cost $1,000. How far we’ve come.

This is another test that Intel has an edge on, especially with the single-threaded performance. Both of the 9900K chips keep well ahead of the others before it. For multi-thread, the winners have become rather predictable at this point.

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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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