AMD Ryzen 9 7950X review

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Final Words 

The Ryzen 9 7950X tears a hole in anything you throw at it; the multi-threaded performance is fantastic, the single-threaded performance really good. This round, however, it feels like AMD did an Intel. Where energy efficiency and heat levels mattered up to Ryzen series 5000/6000, that picture is painted black with Ryzen 7000 when it comes to Wattage and thermals. The performance is grand, and majestic, perhaps we can call it the new HEDT platform for the consumer market, but the cost of running that performance will be tailed by tremendous heat levels and huge energy consumption. Next to that, the cost of ownership is steep especially since you now need to convert to a new AM5 platform and DDR5 memory. Also, and you'll need to consider this: Intel has not released Raptor Lake, and the performance figured there seems to be promising. 

If you can cool it good enough (Tjmax is 95°C) then the 7950X is listed by AMD at a boost of (up to) 5.7GHz; the peak boost will surpass that, perhaps even hitting 5.85GHz as a peak (fMax) speed. So this means that the flagship processor may potentially reach speeds of 5.85GHz at stock. With our Corsair Elite h100i we maxed out at 5.75 GHz. The Ryzen 9 7950X appears to generate a lot of heat. Still, it appears to be manageable and AMD deems this to be a new normal. A 360 mm AIO will likely be necessary to keep temperatures below the thermal threshold for more demanding tasks that necessitate pushing the CPU to its maximum when you desire optimal turbo frequencies.

Price and value

The price premium for Series 7000 processors is a little icky; it does differentiate and isn't cannibalizing the current Ryzen 5000 series, I guess. You can purchase the Ryzen 9 7950X at $699,- and please do understand that if it is priced higher, wait until prices settle when there is good volume availability. It's crazy what etailer dare to ask these days. That said, you'll achieve comparable gaming performance at 12900K performance levels; that's a processor you can grab for roughly 600 USD/EUR. Of course, Intel Raptor lake Gen 13 is also announced today, more on that later though. For the Ryzen 9 7950X you're paying 44 USD per core. The problem, however, is that you'll need an upgrade towards DDR5 and a new AM5 motherboard. 
USD SRP (ex TAX) GBP (Inc Tax) EUR (Inc Tax)
AMD Model 20% TAX 21% TAX
Ryzen 7000 Series AMD Ryzen 9 7950X $699 739.99 849.00
AMD Ryzen 9 7900X $549 579.99 669.00
AMD Ryzen 7 7700X $399 419.99 489.00
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X $299 319.99 365.00

Gaming performance

The new architecture and high clock rates helps AMD get back in the saddle compared to Intels' 12th Gen products. Albeit both have some wins and losses, we do need to realize that this proc is competing with Intels 12th Gen flagship processor. It's now so close that individual wins per brand and processor segmentation (mainstream, high-end, and enthusiast) are real. So that means that with a mighty graphics card, this processor, on average, can feed frames as fast as Intel's equivalent. Realistically though, at six or eight cores, your gaming experience will already be great; we feel that eight cores is the norm these days for a properly nice gaming PC and overall PC desktop. 

DDR5 Memory

The elephant in the room for Ryzen Series 7000 is the cost of ownership. While DDR5 memory will get cheaper next year, right now you'll likely pay a price premium. AMD indicates that 6000 MHz is a sweet spot but please do read our scaling article for memory, as 5200 MHz ain't performing badly either. The kit we received contained 2x 16GB G.Skill memory rated CL30. With this frequency and latency, the sweet spot certainly will not be the price, with the ~300 USD you'll need to spend for this 32 GB kit. EXPO memory, it ran great; we tested the TridentZ5 NEO kit on both an ASRock and ASUS motherboard. Once we had the latest BIOS up and running, would POST fast enough. The first time you startup the PC the BIOS will do memory training; this can take a few minutes. Once you move the BIOS to EXPO mode (the optimal SPD timings) and restart, it'll train again. Once trained you're looking at POST times of less than 30 seconds, which is still too much IMHO.  Stability-wise we had no issues, but of course, since AMD provided these kits, they've been extensively tested for compatibility. This isn't any criticism by the way; for both Intel and AMD, with the start of a new architecture, it's racing against the clock to get memory kits compatible at a firmware level. 

Energy efficiency

Yeah, it's quite scary. The Ryzen 9 7950X is a processor rated at a 170 Watts TDP; the thing is, much like Intel's PL2 states, AMD now applies a PPT of 230W, so that means your processor can utilize that wattage. The specs aren't so shabby as the processor can utilize 1.475 Volts dynamically. All these factors produce all that heat we've been talking about. Don't even think you can cool this processor with a heatpipe-based cooler. AMD themselves even recommend a 240-280mm liquid cooler. Partly to blame are high clock frequencies, but also the IO chip that supports high bandwidth as well as the integrated IGP. I do want to add that a lot of heat seems to be originating from the memory controllers. we noticed that when utilizing 6000 MHz  / CL30 EXPO, the processor reached 95C; at 5200 MHZ CL42, we were below 89 Degrees C. It will be interesting to see how that pans out over time with different types of DRAM. 

I like to add the following from the AMD reviewers guide:

It’s important to note TJMax is the max safe operating temperature – not the absolute max temperature. In the Ryzen 7000 Series, the processor is designed to run at TJMax 24/7 without risk of damage or deterioration. At 95 degrees it is not running hot, rather It will intentionally go to this temperature as much as possible under load because the power management system knows that this is the ideal way to squeeze the most performance out of the chip without damaging it.


As with all processors, you still have a bit of leash to overclock. With proper liquid cooling (an LCS kit with enough capacity), the easiest way to overclock is to select all cores towards your maximum multiplier. With these temps at hand, we advise the voltage regulated by the motherboard (auto). For Ryzen 9 7950X, this seems to be in the 5200-5300 MHz areas, again that's all cores. When tested with CB20 we end up with a score of 15061 (2~3%) coming from 14764 points:



AMD does well on the performance side; however, we observe scarce IPC improvement of just 3%, which may be combined with clock frequency reaching ~ 5.5 GHz on some cores. That IPC made AMD pull open all available registers, the trade-off being thermal- and energy efficiency. Combined with the new AM5 platforms, you'll now also get access to PCIe Gen 5. Very lovely, however at the time of writing, remains a bit useless, as no graphics card is even compatible, let alone actually needs 16x PCie gen 5 lanes. For SSDs we had hoped that AMD would have seeded some samples as well, but nothing is ready/available just yet. BTW I am not overly confident that PCIe Gen 5 SSD will make a real-world difference; yes, sustained speeds will pass 10GB/s however you'll presumably get the very same 4K read/write performance as really the biggest thing going is bandwidth. We also think that cooling will be an issue for Gen5-compatible NVMe SSDs. The AM5 board designs already show that all M2 heatsinks have massive coolers.

AMD's new Ryzen 7000 series processors will be available today and harbors new Zen architecture, as well as considerable performance enhancements and new capabilities. Seen altogether, a ZEN4 processor, simply put, makes everything faster. That goes from browsing Guru3D towards editing in photoshop to gaming. As such, it's difficult to argue this processor series however, we feel a 6-core 7600X or 8-core 7700X are sweet spot procs for us consumers. The 7950X, however, does offer ginormous threaded performance and very slick single-threaded performance. I'll be the devil's advocate here; gaming-wise, looking at energy efficiency and cool temps, the better proc to get is the 5800X3D. It'll save you the cost of ownership for the total platform and the heat issues you'll need to fight. the 5800X3D does forfeit on overall application performance. As a generic platform however the new motherboards are loaded with their latest features running from USB 3.2 2x2, 2.5 G LAN, and WIFI6E. That, combined with PCIe Gen 5.0 might make all the difference. If you do not plan to game on your new Ryzen 7000 PC, then you'll love that the Series 7000 now come with a fully fetched IGP; whatever you do, it'll get the job done well, as long as it's not gaming in that scenario.

In closing, while we love the newly increased performance (which is an impressive perf increase), the cost of ownership (of the entire platform) will be the biggest issue that AMD will need to tackle. The secondary challenge is the ginormous heat output levels of the processor die to the significantly increased TDP (170W vs. 105W on Zen3 = +60%), even though the turbo power (240W PPT/PL2) is comparable to Intel's ADL (AlderLake) and presumably (based on rumors) still less than Intel's upcoming RPL (RaptorLake), it's a lot to cool. Yes, AMD pushed the CPU beyond its efficiency, the Tjmax 95°C might not be a problem for the processor, but it will be a 'thing' to that grey matter of ours, as a proc running to 90~95°C will not sit well for many of us. For the Ryzen 7950X in specific, mandatory will be a proper liquid cooler. I'd recommend a 280mm model, one from a reputable brand. If you can shave off 5 to 10 Degrees, then this proc might be spotted even at 5.85 GHz on a core or two; that as well is impressive. So yes, if you need a super-fast hyper-threaded gaming processor to pair with a super-fast graphics card, this will be an excellent alternative to purchase. Strictly speaking about gaming, please do check out our Ryzen 7 7700X review as 8-cores will do the job just as well.


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