AMD Threadripper 1950X review: Better than Intel in almost every way

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Enlarge / With an orange and blue colour scheme besides…

If Ryzen was a well mannered, if agency manner of telling the world that AMD is again within the processor recreation, then Threadripper is a foul-mouthed, middle-finger-waving, kick-in-the-crotch “screw you” aimed squarely on the usurious coronary heart of Intel. It’s an olive department to part of the PC market stung by years of inflated costs, sluggish efficiency positive aspects, and the sensation that, if you happen to’re not fascinated by low-power laptops, Intel is not fascinated by you.

Where Intel costs $1,000/£1,000 for 10 cores and 20 threads within the type of the Core i9-7900X, AMD affords 16C/32T with Threadripper 1950X. Where Intel limits chipset options and PCIe lanes the additional down the product stack you go—the latter being ever extra necessary as storage strikes away from the SATA interface—AMD affords quad-channel reminiscence, eight DIMM slots, and 64 PCIe lanes even on the most affordable CPU for the platform.

Threadripper embraces the lovers, the system builders, and the content material creators that shout loud and complain typically, however evangelise merchandise like no different. It’s the brand new dwelling for extravagant multi-GPU setups, and RAID arrays constructed on hundreds of value of M.2 SSDs. It’s the place efficiency data could be damaged, and the place content material creators can shave treasured minutes from laborious manufacturing duties, whereas nonetheless having greater than sufficient remaining horsepower to get their recreation on.

Sure, dive deep into the technicalities and Intel’s Skylake-X continues to be absolutely the quickest in terms of pure instructions-per-clock efficiency and high-frame-rate gaming. But the sheer daring of AMD Threadripper and accompanying X399 platform is nothing wanting astonishing. Its efficiency, significantly in content material creation duties and manufacturing workloads, wipes the ground with the Intel equal. Taken as a complete, there actually is not any competitors—Threadripper is the High End Desktop (HEDT) platform to beat.

Double hassle

When AMD unveiled its Zen structure, which lastly morphed right into a product as Ryzen, a lot was stated about Infinity Fabric, the corporate’s new interconnect designed for optimum scalability. The 14nm FinFET Zen core is designed as a four-core-complex (CCX), with Infinity Fabric used to bind two CCX collectively to create the eight-core CPUs of Ryzen 7. What many did not fairly realise on the time is simply how effectively Infinity Fabric would work (after a couple of teething troubles had been resolved, at the very least) and simply how far AMD might push it.

Specs at a look AMD Threadripper 1950X AMD Threadripper 1920X AMD Threadripper 1900X AMD Ryzen 1800X
Architecture Zen Zen Zen Zen
Cores/Threads 16/32 12/24 eight/16 eight/16
Base Clock three.4GHz three.5GHz three.8GHz three.6GHz
Max Boost Clock four.0GHz four.0GHz four.0GHz four.0GHz
XFR Boost 200MHz 200MHz 200MHz 100MHz
L3 Cache 32MB 32MB ? 16MB
Process 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm
TDP 180W 180W 125W 95W
Price $1000/£1000 $799/£799 $549/£549 $500/£449

Threadripper 1950X is successfully two eight-core Ryzen 1800X CPUs positioned onto the identical package deal joined collectively by Infinity Fabric. The result’s a CPU measuring a mammoth 72mm by 55mm, which slots into the even bigger TR4 motherboard socket. Threadripper is, bodily at the very least, the largest shopper CPU launched for the reason that cartridge slot format of the Pentium 2—and even then the CPU itself was only a small a part of the cartridge.

The benefits and downsides of AMD’s Infinity Fabric design are effectively documented at this level—and I would advise looking at Peter Bright’s wonderful deep dive into the Zen structure to study extra—however lots of the quirks that arose from it have since been patched out or tweaked. Do observe, nevertheless, that Infinity Fabric efficiency nonetheless relies upon significantly on reminiscence pace. Thankfully, working 3200MHz reminiscence with a Threadripper CPU is so simple as loading an XMP profile—a far cry from the reminiscence points that plagued Ryzen at launch.

Indeed, with Threadripper being primarily based so closely on Ryzen, it is a pleasingly steady platform. The solely actual distinction is the reminiscence configuration—which is now quad-channel with ECC assist, due to the 2 dual-channel controllers current on every eight-core die—and the PCIe lane configuration, which now options 64 lanes, 4 of that are reserved for connection to the brand new X399 chipset.

With Threadripper, you’ll be able to run two graphics playing cards at X16 PCIe speeds, two at X8, and nonetheless have sufficient lanes left over for 3 X4 NVMe SSDs related on to the CPU. Intel’s i9-series affords a mere 44 PCIe lanes on the CPU by comparability, however does make up the distinction with an extra 24 lanes on the motherboard (they do, nevertheless, share a single X4 PCIe hyperlink to the CPU).

There are two Threadripper CPUs out there at launch: the 16C/32T 1950X, and the 12C/24T 1920X. Both function the identical 512Okay of L2 cache per core (8MB complete), 16MB per die (32MB complete) of L3 cache, and four.0GHz enhance clock throughout 4 cores. They can each enhance so far as four.2GHz throughout the identical 4 cores due to AMD’s XFR (prolonged frequency vary) enhancements, which supply elevated clock speeds for these with suitably sturdy cooling setups. The solely distinction between them is the slight base clock bump to three.5GHz on the 1920X, versus the three.4GHz on the 1950X. Like the remainder of the Ryzen line-up, each Threadripper CPUs are totally unlocked for overclocking.

At $1,000/£1,000, the 1950X affords 16C/32 the place Intel affords simply 10C/20T. While Intel’s superior IPC efficiency and clock speeds do make up among the distinction, to get the identical core rely with an i9 prices $1,700, whereas the top-end 18C/36T i9-7980XE prices an eye-watering $2,000. The 1920X fares even higher, providing 12C/24T for $800. Intel would not have an equal chip for the worth, solely the dearer i9-7900X, or the $600 i7-7820X, which incorporates a mere 28 PCIe lanes and simply eight cores. Simply put, AMD affords much more for lots much less.


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