Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Some hours ago, we took a look at Intel's latest offering, the Core i9-10980XE, which is their flagship processor for the X299 platform, and now we are going to look at AMD's flagship processor, the 3970X. The CPU has 32 cores and 64-threads, and it's based on the new Zen 2 microarchitecture and TSMC's 7nm node, so AMD has really stepped up performance by a large margin on paper.
The new CPU aims to get rid of AMD's disadvantage in single-core performance and also up their game in multi-core performance as Intel has no CPU with over 28-cores, so let's see how they do.
The 3970X has boost speeds up to 4.5GHz, it has a crazy 144MB of cache, 32-cores and 64-threads, and utilizes the new TRX40 chipset. The new chipset offers a huge amount of performance increases, including a high amount of USB 3.2 Gen 2, quadruple the bandwidth between the CPU and chipset, and a lot of other new features.
The Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is priced at $1999.
The CPU and Test Setup
The new box is a neat design, but it's not easy to open up the box, and once you unlatch the CPU lock, it's very hard to get it back in there. The CPU looks the same as the older Threadripper CPUs, but it requires the new TRX40 chipset motherboard.
The CPU is pretty typical, with a very large heatspeader. The CPU comes with an Aestek bracket, a manual, a Torx wrench, a large sticker, a small sticker, and a warranty pamphlet.
Steven's CPU Test System Specifications
That RAM is gorgeous, right?
- Motherboard: ASRock TRX40 Taichi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X
- Cooler: Enermax Liqtech II 360
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 4x16GB 3600MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston KC2000 1TB
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless
CINEBENCH, wPrime, and AIDA64
Out of the Box Performance: CINEBENCH, wPrime, and AIDA64
AIDA64 FP and IOPS
AIDA64 Memory Bandwidth
AIDA64 Memory Latency
AMD's CPU destroys everything Intel has with one fellow swoop. The multi-core performance is excellent, and even though single-core performance is not as good as Intel's gaming offerings, it's good enough to keep up with the 10980XE.
Memory speeds are higher, and that is mainly because the DRAM runs at higher stock speeds than on the Intel systems.
Blender, Handbrake, ScienceMark, and SuperPI
Out of the Box Performance: Blender, Handbrake, SuperPI, and ScienceMark
HandBrake UHD Video Transcoder (x264)
HandBrake HD Video Transcoder (x264)
SuperPI Mod 1.5
While SuperPI shows how AMD's memory latency difference impacts performance, AMD is able to keep up with its Intel counterparts when it comes to Handbrake encoding and transcoding.
The Blender benchmark is amazing - that is the fastest numbers we have ever seen in that benchmark. ScieneceMark shows that AMD is still strong, but the benchmark is legacy and only capable of taking advantage of 32-threads, so roughly half what the CPU offers.
UNIGINE and 3DMark
Out of the Box Synthetic Gaming Performance: UNIGINE and 3DMark
3DMark Fire Strike
UNIGINE 4.0 720p
UNIGINE 4.0 1080p
In 3DMark FireStrike and CloudGate, the CPU lacks behind Intel parts, but then again, this CPU is not designed to be a gaming CPU. However, compared to the first generation of the 32-core Threadripper CPU, performance is on the up and up. UNIGINE seems to really like this CPU as it's doing great in that benchmark.
Out of the Box Gaming Performance: Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, GTA:V, Ashes of Singularity
Resident Evil 6 Benchmark
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Ashes of the Singularity
Resident Evil tends to enjoy cores and SMT performance, and we see the CPU doing actually quite well in that benchmark. Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation doesn't seem to like the CPU much, but we see better results than with the first generation.
In Rise of the Tomb Raider, we see decent results, but Intel still has the upper hand. In GTA:V, we see an uplift from the 2990WX, but it's not as good as Intel's offerings, but that is to be expected as this is a content creation CPU.
Overclocking and Power Consumption
The Ryzen Threadripper 3970X really eats up power, just like its predecessor the 2990WX, but it uses slightly more and that is with Performance Boost Overdrive disabled. However, AMD is pretty good with its TDP numbers as they rate this CPU at 280W.
As of now, we are not going to be overclocking the 3970X. Our thermal solution is already almost exhausted even at stock, however, enabling XMP to 3600MHz with a 64GB dual rank kit would have been impossible on previous Threadripper CPUs, but is easily accomplished here.
We recommend turning on Performance Boost Overdrive if you want to easily boost performance, as it is basically like out of the box automatic overclocking that depends on CPU temperature and motherboard design as guidance on how much to boost frequency.
Here we have it enabled with XMP enabled, but performance uplifts aren't really seen as thermal headroom is almost non-existent.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review and get a quick recap and points on the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X.
Cores and more cores: AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 3970X has a hefty 32-cores, and a 64-core variant has been confirmed by AMD. However, with 32-cores, the AMD 3970X has more cores than any of the competition's CPUs. AMD has also increased SMT performance, and it's excellent - it just smashes everything that might need that many cores.
Single Core Performance and Memory: Single-core performance, judging by CINEBENCH scores, is similar to that of the Intel 10980XE that launched today. It's an excellent CPU in that regards now, making up for Threadripper's biggest insufficiency. The ability of the CPU to handle dual rank high-density memory kits is also very impressive.
Platform: TRX40 is the most advanced chipset we have seen to date. It has all PCI-E 4.0, tons of USB 3.2 gen 2, and a whole lot of bandwidth between the CPU and chipset. It's well worth it if you can afford it.
Temperature: Just like the first generation 2990WX, which had the same core count as the 3970X, at stock we are hitting the upper limits of our 360mm all-in-one liquid cooler.
The Ryzen 3950X was the most impressive CPU we had ever seen from AMD, but today we are here to tell you we were wrong; the 3970X takes that crown now. It's as if it was five years ago, and Intel was competing with itself, but in this case, AMD has created two very distinct products with excellent performance.
Multi-core performance, single-core performance, and capabilities top the charts. While it might not be the best gaming CPU, AMD isn't toting it as a gaming CPU. They are saying it's a CPU for content creators, and they are right. However, while Intel cut their prices in the high-end desktop segment in half or by more, AMD has kept their prices justifiably very high.
Not only will the CPU run you $2K, but motherboards will also start around $500. It's a platform for those with a lot to spend, and that might be its only downside other than high temperatures. If you are in the market for one of the best content creation CPU, the 3970X is what you need.
The Bottom Line
AMD's Threadripper 3970X is seriously AMD's best performing CPU, and there isn't anything out there quite like it.