This year is a good one for the AMD CPU department. Starting from March, AMD has been throwing one punch after another at Intel with their Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 3 line-up of desktop processors.
Last week, the final uppercut has been struck with the Threadripper line-up of high-end desktop (HEDT) CPUs, going up to 16 cores and 32 threads in one package. Let’s look at what different reviewers have to say about the Threadripper 1950X and 1920X while comparing it to Intel’s current highest-tier CPU, the Core i9-7900X.
The Ryzen Threadripper line-up currently consists of the $1,000 16-core, 32-thread 1950X and the $800 12-core, 24-thread 1920X processors. The 1900X, an 8-core 16-thread CPU, will release on August 31st for $550.
All of these Ryzen CPUs boost 4 of their most powerful cores up to 4.2 GHz with XFR (extended frequency range) in cases where enough cooling is provided. Manually overclocking the chips will disable XFR, so in applications that use only up to 4 cores (i.e. games), leaving the Threadripper CPUs at stock settings is recommended, as an all-core overclock usually tops out at 4.0 GHz. All Threadripper CPUs also support quad-channel memory and 64 PCIe lanes.
Due to the inherent design of the Threadripper processors, AMD has two modes available in the Ryzen Master utility — one for content creation and one for gaming. This is done because under the heatspreader, Threadripper has four CPU dies, only two of which are actually active. Talking between these dies may be expensive in terms of performance, which is why AMD included the UMA (uniform memory access) mode for non-gaming tasks, and NUMA (non-uniform memory access) mode for gaming. UMA mode is active by default, as AMD feels Threadripper is designed for content creators first and foremost.
Intel’s competing Skylake-X processor is the 10-core, 20-thread i9-7900X for $1,000. It has a boost frequency of 4.3 GHz on all cores, and a 4.5 GHz boost (Turbo Boost 3.0) on the two best cores, which are different on each CPU. The Intel Core i9-7900X supports quad-channel memory and has 44 PCIe lanes.
The Ryzen Threadripper and Intel Core X-series are meant for the extreme user who needs the crazy horsepower these CPUs can offer. A regular or even professional gamer will not benefit from these expensive processors.
Here are some benchmarks where these CPUs can be useful.
Streaming and “megatasking”
With the release of the Core i9-7900X, Intel coined a new way of working called megatasking — playing a game at 4K resolution, streaming it at 1080p 60 FPS and encoding a recording of the gameplay, all at the same time.
These processors are meant for extreme content creators, programmers or professional streamers who need to leverage the whole performance of a CPU. For regular streaming or casual gaming, an AMD Ryzen 5 1600 or Ryzen 7 1700 is recommended, whereas professional gamers should look at the Intel Core i7 7700K. Nevertheless, the tech media tested games with the new processors, and everyone who has seen previous Ryzen CPU benchmarks knows how things are going to get down.
Different media outlets showed different results when it came to power consumption of the Threadripper processors. GamersNexus have in the past year shown extensive professionalism and technicality in their methodical testing, so I am not afraid of recommending their results as the most reliable on the market right now.
Threadripper is AMD’s return to the high-end desktop market after almost a decade of absence. To say that it made some waves in the market is an understatement. Ryzen has shaken up the market, and Threadripper is another great entry.
Compared to Intel’s price-equivalent, the Core i9-7900X, the 1950X offers more cores, more PCIe lanes and better core performance per watt. The 7900X is still clocked slightly higher and has the benefit of most applications being better optimized for Intel’s microarchitectures due to their dominance in the market. However, the 1950X is still a compelling offer for those who use applications more dependent on cores and threads, or people who need three or more GPUs in PCIe x16. Threadripper’s 64 PCIe lanes will have no problem with that, whereas the 7900X (and all future Skylake-X CPUs) will run into problems due to their limited 44 PCIe lane design.
For gaming and casual streaming, we still recommend the Ryzen 5 1600 as the best value CPU, Ryzen 7 1700 as the most balanced gaming and streaming CPU, and the Intel Core i7 7700K as the best gaming CPU.