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AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X 1080p & 4K Gaming Performance

AMD Ryzen 5000 Series - Promo Shot Square

Date: November 5, 2020
Author(s): Rob Williams

AMD has just launched its much-anticipated Zen 3 processors, with four on offer for mainstream budgets. We’re kicking off our coverage with a look at the top dog Ryzen 9 5950X in gaming, as it goes up against the last-gen Ryzen 9 3950X, and Intel’s de facto best gaming CPU, the Core i9-10900K.



AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X 1080p & 4K Gaming Performance

It’s proving to be an incredibly busy time for PC hardware releases. NVIDIA just last week launched its third Ampere-based GeForce in a month-and-a-half, and we’re of course seeing AMD release its first Zen 3-based processors today. Soon, AMD is going to also be launching its new ‘Big Navi’ Radeons, so overall, we definitely have our benchmarking work cut out for us this fall.

We’d normally greet a new AMD Zen launch with a plethora of workstation benchmarks, but for a couple of reasons, we’re focusing this article largely around gaming performance instead. We will have some normal software benchmarks below, but our full look will come next week after we can get more test scripts updated and more CPUs tested.

The biggest reason to explore gaming is that it’s one of the biggest catch-ups AMD claims to have made. While the previous Zen processors were great for most purposes, those who wanted super-high frame rates at lower resolutions found themselves sticking with Intel, and Intel has made it obvious through its marketing that a chip like the 10900K can’t be beat. Or can it?! That’s what we’ll find out here.

AMD Ryzen 5000 Series - Promo Shot 1

Before going further, here’s a quick refresher of AMD’s current lineup as of today’s launch:

AMD’s Ryzen & Ryzen Threadripper Lineup
Cores Clock (Turbo) L2+L3 Memory TDP Price
Ryzen Threadripper
3990X 64 (128T) 2.9 GHz (4.3) 288MB Quad 280W $3990
3970X 32 (64T) 3.7 GHz (4.5) 144MB Quad 280W $1999
3960X 24 (48T) 3.8 GHz (4.5) 140MB Quad 280W $1399
Ryzen 9
R9 5950X 16 (32T) 3.4 GHz (4.9) 72MB Dual 105W $799
R9 3950X 16 (32T) 3.5 GHz (4.7) 72MB Dual 105W $749
R9 5900X 12 (24T) 3.7 GHz (4.8) 70MB Dual 105W $549
R9 3900X 12 (24T) 3.8 GHz (4.6) 70MB Dual 105W $499
Ryzen 7
R7 5800X 8 (16T) 3.8 GHz (4.7) 36MB Dual 105W $449
R7 3800X 8 (16T) 3.9 GHz (4.5) 36MB Dual 95W $399
R7 3700X 8 (16T) 3.6 GHz (4.4) 36MB Dual 65W $329
Ryzen 5
R5 5600X 6 (12T) 3.7 GHz (4.6) 35MB Dual 65W $299
R5 3600X 6 (12T) 3.8 GHz (4.4) 35MB Dual 95W $249
R5 3600 6 (12T) 3.6 GHz (4.2) 35MB Dual 65W $199
Ryzen 3
R3 3300X 4 (8T) 3.8 GHz (4.3) 18MB Dual 65W $120
R3 3100 4 (8T) 3.6 GHz (3.9) 18MB Dual 65W $99
Ryzen w/ Radeon Vega Graphics
R5 3400G 4 (8T) 3.7 GHz (4.2) 0.5+4MB Dual 65W $149
R3 3200G 4 (4T) 3.6 GHz (4.0) 0.5+4MB Dual 65W $99

These new Zen 3 CPUs will work in current motherboards, as long as those motherboards have either an X570 or B550 chipset. If so, you should see an EFI update from your board vendor. That EFI will also introduce access to the new Smart Access Memory (resizable bar) feature, although that’s something we can’t test until AMD releases its new Radeons later this month.

Quick Workstation Tests

While this article focuses around gaming, we know that there are many readers who come here today expecting to see some workstation performance, so we wanted to deliver some results for the time-being, and as mentioned above, we’ll expand with a full article next week.

AMD 3950X AMD 5950X
Adobe Lightroom Export 158 s 154 s
BRAW 8K 3:1 50 FPS 57 FPS
HandBrake x264 Encode 107 s 99 s
HandBrake x265 Encode 279 s 252 s
LameXP Music Transcode 184 s 174 s
Arnold E-Type Render 181 s 174 s
Blender BMW Render 101 s 99 s
Cinebench MT 9,189 9,902
Cinebench ST 525 638
V-Ray Benchmark 25,595 29,623

We’d wager that the generational gains seen in workstation workloads isn’t quite as dramatic from Zen 2 to Zen 3 as it was from Zen to Zen 2, but any improvement on top of what was already great performance (and market-leading in some cases) is still really welcomed. This is only a handful of workloads, as well; we’re sure some others might flex the 5950X’s architectural improvements better.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Gaming Performance

With that really quick look at workstation performance out-of-the-way, we can move onto a look at gaming performance – aka: the true reason for this article’s existence today. We tested all three processors listed in the table below with the same memory, and in the case of AMD, both were tested using the same EFI.

Techgage Test Systems
Processors AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (16C/32T; 3.4GHz)
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (16C/32T; 3.5GHz)
Intel Core i9-10900K (10C/20T; 3.7GHz)
Motherboards AMD X570: ASRock X570 Taichi
Intel Z490: ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi
Cooling AMD X570: Corsair iCUE H115i RGB PLATINUM
Intel Z490: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT
Chassis AMD X570: Fractal Design Define C
Intel Z490: Corsair Crystal X570
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 (Game Ready 457.09)
Memory Corsair VENGEANCE (CMT64GX4M4Z3600C16)
4x16GB; DDR4-3600 16-18-18 (Operating as DDR4-3200)
Et cetera Windows 10 (20H2)
All product links in this table are affiliated, and support the website.

We intended for this article to include test results from both an AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Intel Core X processor, but time got the best of us, and we had to stick to just the three listed. Testing a single CPU in the number of games we did takes quite a bit of time, especially since more than the usual number of runs need to be conducted since we’re not comparing GPUs, but CPUs using the same exact GPU.

Ultimately, Core X and Threadripper are not needed for inclusion here, but would have been nice to bulk the charts up a bit. What we would see is that neither of those series would came ahead in any one of the tests, so ultimately, we can still accomplish our goal of establishing where AMD’s current gaming performance is, compared against the last-gen top dog Ryzen, 3950X, and also the Core i9-10900K – Intel’s fastest gaming CPU.

Bear in mind that gaming performance across multiple CPUs is sometimes boring, so don’t expect a whack of excitement from half of these. The only time a CPU will become a bottleneck in gaming is when the graphics card isn’t being given enough work, so at 1080p, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 we used in testing is overkill, but will show us scaling, while at 4K, the bottleneck is more on the GPU, so CPU differences will often be minimal between two competitor chips.

This article includes a few games that we’ve tested for our CPU content before, but also some new ones we recently explored and added: Death Stranding, Dirt 5, and Red Dead Redemption 2. And with that, let’s head into the meat of this article:

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Borderlands 3 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Control

Control - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Control - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike Global Offensive - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Counter-Strike Global Offensive - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Death Stranding

Death Stranding - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Death Stranding - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Destiny 2 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Dirt 5

Dirt 5 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Dirt 5 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

F1 2020

F1 2020 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
F1 2020 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Far Cry 5 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Horizon Zero Dawn - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter World - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Monster Hunter World - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Red Dead Redemption 2 - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Shadow of the Tomb Raider - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six: Siege

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Total War Three Kingdoms

Total War Three Kingdoms - 2160p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)
Total War Three Kingdoms - 1080p Performance (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor)

Final Thoughts

Thanks to that exhaustive testing, we can confidently say that AMD has caught up to Intel in gaming performance, as has been promised. It wasn’t a total domination, as Intel still came ahead in a bunch of titles at each res, but overall, AMD won more lower-resolution battles, sometimes to a significant degree (even if we’re talking in hundreds of FPS).

Who benefits most from this performance uplift are those equipped with high-refresh monitors. 200 FPS isn’t going to matter quite as much on a 60Hz panel, so hopefully with the performance we’re seeing from today’s hardware and in today’s games, we’ll start to see more folks adopt high-refresh monitors.

All of the games tested here were using realistic graphics settings, not ones deliberately toned down just to make for a better CPU benchmark (we want our testing to be relevant). Even then, no game came close to a 100 FPS low on any CPU at 1080p – all of them kept well above. Conversely, at 4K, the differences overall between chips is largely minimal, unless a game happens to be incredibly CPU-bound.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor Under Green Light

There were a couple of examples of those really CPU-bound games in this article. CS: GO has plagued us with a roadblock for a while, where each new generation of CPU saw the most modest of improvements. Well, imagine our surprise when we saw AMD finally defeat this bottleneck, increasing the FPS at 4K from 240 to 274. Obviously, this doesn’t matter too much considering there are no 4K/200Hz monitors, and even if there were, all configurations delivered ample performance. Still, it’s nice to see a gain in a place we were not expecting it.

Similarly, our Siege test with the 5950X gave us a nice gain over the Intel Core i9-10900K, nearly hitting 500 FPS at 1080p. Siege is nowhere near a demanding game, but it sure is fun to benchmark considering its ultra-fast frame rates at top detail.

We hate that this initial Zen 3 look didn’t include more workstation tests, but the rest of our day will be spent getting things prepared to start churning through the myriad benchmarks until all data is acquired. We will then deliver a fuller workstation performance look next week.

After a lot of testing so far, we’re really impressed with Zen 3, but that’s primarily based on the $799 5950X, as it’s the only chip of the four we’ve tested at this point. Because each of the launch chips have different internal designs, it could lead to some detriment in gaming performance versus the full-blown 5950X, so if you’re eyeing a chip that’s not the 5950X, we’d encourage looking at other reviews from those who did test games with your chip of choice, just to make sure it aligns with our findings here.

This is an exciting launch from AMD, so let’s hope those who want a new CPU will actually be able to score one. We suspect they will sell out fast.

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