Who is this for, anyway?
We have the full review of AMD’s new flagship HEDT processor for you.
Today is a critically important day for AMD. With the launch of reviews and the on-sale date for its new Ryzen Threadripper processor family, AMD is reentering the world of high-end consumer processors that it has been absent from for a decade, if not longer. Intel has dominated this high priced, but high margin, area of the market since the release of the Core i7-900 series of Nehalem CPUs in 2008, bringing workstation and server class hardware down to the content creator and enthusiast markets. Even at that point AMD had no competitive answer, with only the Phenom X4 in our comparison charts. It didn’t end well.
AMD has made no attempt of stealth with the release of Ryzen Threadripper, instead adopting the “tease and repeat” campaign style that Radeon has utilized in recent years for this release. The result of which is an already-knowledgeable group of pre-order ready consumers; not a coincidence. Today I will summarize the data we already know for those of you just joining us and dive into the importance of the new information we can provide today. That includes interesting technical details on the multi-die implementation and latency, overclocking, thermals, why AMD has a NUMA/UMA issue, gaming performance and of course, general system and workload benchmarks.
A Summary of Threadripper
AMD has been pumping up interest and excitement for Ryzen Threadripper since May, with an announcement of the parts at the company’s financial analyst day. It teased 16 cores and 32 threads of performance for a single consumer socket, something that we had never seen before. At Computex, Jim Anderson got on stage and told us that each Threadripper processor would have access to 64 lanes of PCI Express, exceeding the 40 lanes of Intel’s top HEDT platforms and going well above the 28 lanes that the lower end of its family offers.
In mid-July the official announcement of the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X occurred, with CEO Lisa Su and CVP John Taylor having the honors. This announcement broke with most of the important information including core count, clock speeds, pricing, and a single performance benchmark (Cinebench). On July 24th we started to see pictures of the Threadripper packaging show up on AMD social media accounts, getting way more attention than anyone expected a box for a CPU could round up. At the end of July AMD announced a third Threadripper processor (due in late August). Finally, on August 3rd, I was allowed to share an unboxing of the review kit and the CPU itself as well as demonstrate the new installation method for this sled-based processor.
It’s been a busy summer.
Who is Threadripper really for?
Before we dive into the specifications table and go over the characteristics that make it unique, I think it’s important to discuss who this new platform is really for. AMD itself will tell you that the target for Threadripper and its 12/16 cores of processing is the prosumer and content creation markets. These professionals or amateurs-with-aspiration utilize software and application workloads that differ quite a bit from the majority of the PC market, taking advantage of compute hardware and its capabilities. Things like video editing, photo effects, software development, rendering, ray tracing, and analysis take a lot of work to complete and much of that work can be highly threaded to take advantage of multi-core processors. For these buyers, a Threadripper processor and platform promises more performance and faster completion times for projects, increasing productivity.
Enthusiasts are also a target for HEDT platforms like Threadripper and Skylake-X (from Intel). Enthusiasts like hardware for hardware’s sake, and Threadripper will surely give them an avenue of discussion with friends and fellow users. Enthusiast workloads will vary from video transcoding, to gaming, to overclocking. Threadripper will provide different amounts of usability for these segments, though gaming is an interesting one. Video transcoding will blaze on this platform, and there is interesting work on the overclocking side, but for gaming, Threadripper isn’t going to be the best choice. It’s still a good choice, but not the pinnacle. More on that later.
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X – $999 – Amazon.com
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X – $799 – Amazon.com
- ASUS Zenith Extreme X399 MB – $549 – Amazon.com
- Other X399 Motherboards – Amazon.com
If you are a “mega-tasker”, a term that we first heard Intel create a few years back as it was trying to sell the need for 8-core and 10-core processors, you are going to love what Ryzen Threadripper can offer. With 32-threads available to you, you’ll be able to play a game while a render occurs in the background, or handle encoding, gaming and streaming without a hiccup. The question will be whether or not we can utilize this capability without the need for manually setting CPU affinity for tasks, a painful procedure that most people do through Task Manager in Windows. Better access to tools and an easier ability to quickly map/unmap affinity would be a great addition to AMD’s Ryzen Master tool.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper Specifications
We have already discussed in detail the specifications of Threadripper and how it compares to the current Intel HEDT lineup as well as the Ryzen 7 family. Let’s revisit.
|i9-7980XE||i9-7960X||i9-7940X||i9-7920X||i9-7900X||i7-7820X||i7-7800X||TR 1950X||TR 1920X||TR 1900X|
|Base Clock||2.6 GHz||2.8 GHz||3.1 GHz||2.9 GHz||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.8 GHz|
|Turbo Boost 2.0||4.2 GHz||4.2 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost Max 3.0||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.5 GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Memory Support||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666
|DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel|
|TDP||165 watts||165 watts||165 watts||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||180 watts||180 watts||180 watts?|
|TR 1950X||TR 1920X||TR 1900X||Ryzen 7 1800X||Ryzen 7 1700X||Ryzen 7 1700||Ryzen 5 1600X||Ryzen 5 1600||Ryzen 5 1500X||Ryzen 5 1400|
|Base Clock||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.0 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.2 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.2 GHz|
|Turbo/Boost Clock||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.7 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.7 GHz||3.4 GHz|
|DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2400
|TDP||180 watts||180 watts||180 watts?||95 watts||95 watts||65 watts||95 watts||65 watts||65 watts||65 watts|
Comparing the Threadripper 1950X and 1920X to the Core i9-7900X, Intel current flagship HEDT processor, AMD has some advantages right off the bat. With 16-cores and 32-threads, the 1950X should be able to best the 10-core 7900X in most multi-threaded workloads that are heavily loading down the CPU. Clock speeds of the 1950X start at 3.4 GHz but will boost to 4.0 GHz at Turbo. AMD says we should see as much as 200 MHz of additional clock speed with XFR, as long as you have the right cooling configuration setup. In our testing I did see spikes up to 4.2 GHz on occasion, but it wasn’t as reliable as I had hoped. (This behavior seems identical to how XFR functioned on the Ryzen line.) The Core i9-7900X will retain its clock speed advantage over the 1950X, and coupled with the known higher IPC performance of Skylake compared to Zen, will keep single threaded performance crowns with Intel. It also means that some lightly threaded applications will still find preference on the 10-core 7900X over the 16-core 1950X.
AMD’s 1920X processor is a 12-core/24-thread CPU with 100 MHz base clock and 38MB of cache, but otherwise has identical specifications and properties. Even though it has two more cores than the 7900X from Intel, I would expect it to come in tied or slightly behind the Intel flagship across the board.
The TDP of the 1950X and 1920X is set at 180 watts, 40 watts higher than the rating of the 7900X from Intel. To be fair, the TDP of the Core i9-7900X was basically a flat out lie – in no way when fully loaded did the 7900X only draw 140 watts nor was it comparable to Intel’s own previous generation of processors rated at 140 watts. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Ryzen Threadripper stands in this metric – the Ryzen 7 1800X, for example, also used well over its 95 watt TDP rating.
From a pricing standpoint, the Threadripper parts are here to make an immediate impact. At $999, the 1950X will bring new levels of performance to market that Intel has been accused of ignoring and exploiting until very recently. Remember than the 10-core Broadwell-E based Core i7-6950X was priced at $1700, and it wasn’t until AMD made its plans for Threadripper known that Intel released the 10-core Core i9-7900X came in $700 lower. While I’m sure AMD would love to still be competing with a $1700 CPU today, Threadripper should still offer an improvement in performance per dollar metrics. The 1920X will sell for $799; if it can offer 7900X levels of multi-threaded performance for $200 less, that’s a win for AMD.
Intel has other processors coming, sooner rather than later. Though clock speeds still haven’t been confirmed, with 12/14/16/18-core options coming this year, it would seem likely that Intel will eventually retake the crown for raw performance for the enthusiast and content creation user. But it will do so with a significantly higher price point. How AMD reacts to this, and how well it can stay positioned on performance per dollar, will be the determining factor for Threadripper’s long term state.
Comparing Threadripper to the rest of the Ryzen family, the 1950X is essentially 2x the Ryzen 7 1800X, though with a lower base clock (by 200 MHz). Interestingly, you can actually pick up the 1800X on Amazon.com for just $419, making it just 42% of the cost of its bigger brother. With the move to the HEDT platform you get the advantages in PCIe lanes and quad-channel memory but you are more limited on your motherboard selection (they are going to be priced higher) and you’ll need a beefier cooling solution to keep that 180 watt rating in check.
I’m incredibly interested in the value of the Ryzen Threadripper 1900X when it becomes available at just $549.
AMD’s Threadripper processors use the same die as the Ryzen 7/5/3 CPUs, but in a package resembling the AMD EPYC data center processors announced this summer. When we talked with AMD at its tech day in July about this, they confirmed that while all Threadripper processors have four pieces of silicon under the heat spreader, only two have transistors on them, making the other two dummy-dies used only for thermal balancing and providing structure to the heat spreader itself.
I’m very curious on how will
I’m very curious on how will the two dies and memory modes affect virtualization? I’ve only experimented with VM in the past but is it possible to run two Hexa-cores windows VM and with each individual memory nodes assigned to each VM?
Are you setting the Blender
Are you setting the Blender tile sizes to 256 or 16/32?
Just wondering since an overclocked 5960x gets 1 minute 30 seconds on the BMW at 16×16 tile size. Significant difference that shouldn’t just be a result of the OC.
For reference: 256 or 512 are for GPU and 16 or 32 are for CPU – at least for getting the best and generally more comparable results to what we get over at BlenderArtists.
When reading is not enough,
When reading is not enough, the mistakes are OVER 9000!
“If you content creation is your livelihood or your passion, ”
” as consumers in this space are often will to pay more”
” Anyone itching to speed some coin”
” flagship status will be impressed by what the purchase.”
” but allows for the same connectivity support that the higher priced CPUs.”
Now just point me to the
Now just point me to the pages… 😉
Nice to see a review with
Nice to see a review with more than a bunch of games tested. Keep up the good work!
Should not a test like 7-zip
Should not a test like 7-zip use 32 threads as max since that is what is presented to the OS??
now it only uses 50% of the threads on TR but 80% on i9-7900x.
Silly performance, looking
Silly performance, looking forward to the 1900X and maybe 1900.
I sometimes wonder why nobody
I sometimes wonder why nobody ever points out that within CCX (4 cores that can allow a lot of games to run comfortably) ZEN has latencies of half those of Intel CPUs. Binding a game to those 4 cores (8 threads like any i7) has significant impact on performance. It does not change memory latencies of course but core to core is much better.
I’m glad someone else noticed
I’m glad someone else noticed this besides myself. I noted this during the Ryzen launch & quickly noted that by using CPU affinity along w CPU priority to force my games to run exclusively within 1 CCX & take advantage of using high CPU processing time on these same CPU cores I could take advantage of this up to a point.
What all this shows to me is that the OS & game developers software need to be revised to better handle this architecture at the core logic level instead of usersAMD having to provideuse methods to try to do this that cannot be used in a more dynamic fashion. I’ve ran some testing on Win 10’s Game Mode & discovered that MS is actually trying to use CPU affinity to dynamically set running game threads to be run on the fastestlowest latency CPU cores to “optimize” game output thru the CPU but it still tends to cross the CPU CCX’s at times if left on it’s own.
What I’ve found is by doing this my games run much smoother w a lot less variance which gives the “feel” of games running faster (actual FPS is the same) due to lower input lag & much better GPU frametime variance graph lines w very few spikes….essentially a fairly flat GPU frametime variance line which is what you want to achieve performance-wise.
Just to note….my box is running an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPUSapphire R9 Fury X graphics card w no OC’s applied to either the CPU or GPU.
It’s a step in the right direction but needs more refinement at the OS level……
As expected, performance per
As expected, performance per dollar is crap in single threaded tasks, which most workloads are. Games don’t even use more than 1 or 2 cores.
Yea games only use 2 cores
Yea games only use 2 cores lol
And “as expected”, we have
And “as expected”, we have yet another Intel shill complaining about gaming performance on a production CPU, which isn’t made for gaming (although it’s not bad in the least and has a longer future as devs code for more than Intel’s tiny core count (under $1000))..
-“performance per dollar is crap in single threaded workloads”…
Well, since these aren’t sold as a single or dual core CPU, performance per dollar as a unit is beyond everything on Intel’s menu.
– “Games don’t even use more than 1 or 2 cores”
Well, I’ve been using a FX-8350 for 2 years now, and I always see all 8 cores loaded up on every single game I play (and I have many). Windows 10 makes use of these cores even when it’s not coded in programs. It would work even better if devs started coding for at least 8 cores, and I believe they will start doing this in earnest now that 8-core CPUs are now considered average core counts (unless you’re with Intel).
You would have been better off stating that core vs core is in Intel’s favor on the 4-core chips and some others, but ironically the “performance per dollar”, as you mention is superior with AMD.. in every way.
What memory are you using,
What memory are you using, and could you name a 64GB kit that works in XMP? And why 3200Mhz over 3600?
Intel is still superior both
Intel is still superior both in raw performance and in perf/$. If you were being objective you wouldn’t have given slapped an editor’s choice on this inferior product.
In Handbrake the 1800x is 40%
In Handbrake the 1800x is 40% slower than the 1950x and in reverse the 1950x is 67% faster than 1800x.
Open cinebench with a TR or
Open cinebench with a TR or even an 1800x. Show me any Intel chip that can come within 20% of the 1950x. The entire Ryzen 7 lineup is king of the “perf/$” category. 1800x = $365 on eBay right now. Look how close it matches with Intel products that are double the price or worse.
If you want to compare single core perf vs Intel, you can win an argument.. at the cost of very high power draw and even worse cash draw. Perf/$ is a dead argument for any Intel fanboy. Find something else. BTW, are you also commenting under “Thatman007” or something? Sound like the same Intel mouthpiece.
Sorry for necroposting, but
Sorry for necroposting, but it really belongs here:
The recent Meltdown vulnerability and its performance implications on Intel CPUs pretty much leveled the playground now. After reading the article and all the comments above I opted for a very good B350 motherboard and a Ryzen 1800X to replace my Core i7 5930K (Haswell). Reason is that my CPU will likely be hit very badly performance wise by the upcoming Windows 10 security update. Intel should pay back 30% to all affected CPU owners, actually…
Reason is that likely I would not gain anything from NUMA, except of the additional complications. So I opt for the easier to manager (lower) power consumption and less noise from cooling as a result.
Thank you for collecting all the great info.