Battle of the 16-cores: Intel’s Core i9-7960X vs. AMD’s Threadripper 1950X

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X & Intel Core i9-7960X Processors
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by Rob Williams on January 6, 2018 in Processors

It still feels a little hard to believe, but both AMD and Intel offer the enthusiast market their own take on a 16-core chip. Remember when quad-cores seemed overkill for desktops? At the top-end, the CPU you choose can greatly affect your workload for better or for worse. So, let’s see what these beefy chips are made of.

Linux: Blender, HandBrake & Phoronix Test Suite

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

To wrap-up our performance results, we have a slew of Linux test results to pore over, which include two identical tests from the Windows suite (HandBrake and Blender).

The OS used in testing is Ubuntu 17.10, using the stock 4.13 kernel. As with the Windows tests, the Linux OS is kept as minimal as possible, with only required software packages installed on top of the stock software. HandBrake is procured through Ubuntu’s repository, while Blender is grabbed from the official source. As of the time of writing, the latest version of Phoronix Test Suite (7.6.0) is also used.

And speaking of, most of the Linux testing is performed with Phoronix Test Suite, which makes it ridiculously easy to benchmark a huge number of tests in one go, to let us, as Ronco famously said, “set it, and forget it!” Well, “forget it” until the next test needs to be run, anyway.

Blender & HandBrake

AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Blender & HandBrake (Linux)

Despite being real-world applications, both Blender and HandBrake can deliver benchmark scaling like synthetic benchmarks do (more so with Blender than HandBrake). Intel’s chips take the lead in both tests, but the mighty 1950X doesn’t lag very far behind.

Interestingly, for both architectures, the Pavillon project rendered faster for in Linux than in Windows, with the same 2.79 version of Blender. There wasn’t a clear gain like this with the previous test suite, so I’m currently unsure why there’s a fair degree of separation today.

Phoronix Test Suite

AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Compiler Performance (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Ray Tracing (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - SciMark (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - OpenSSL (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - HMMer Search (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - 7-Zip (Linux)
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Stream (Linux)
John The Ripper (Encryption)
BlowfishMD5DES
Intel Core i9-7980XE31.3K395.0K101.6M
Intel Core i9-7960X29.5K373.1K95.7M
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X23.2K363.0K26.0M
Intel Core i9-7900X20.5K259.1K66.9M
Intel Core i7-7820X16.5K207.5K53.7M
Intel Core i7-7740X8.9K112.0K26.7M

In almost every single test, AMD’s 1950X slots in at 3rd place, out of the 6 CPUs tested. There are some exceptions, like with SciMark, a single-threaded test, and HMMer, the only multi-threaded test where it fell far behind (Intel optimizations do help there from what I can tell).

Depending on what you want, either Intel’s or AMD’s chips will suit your purpose better, so as I like to say, it pays to know your workload. 16-core vs. 16-core, Intel leads the pack considerably in some tests (eg: OpenSSL), but $ vs. $, the arrangement of these CPUs would be a little different.

Even without NUMA mode, AMD’s Threadripper gave the highest Copy result of the bunch, but fell behind a wee bit with Add – another pitfall shared by the rather strange quad-core Intel part.

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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