AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X review

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Introduction

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X (24c/48t)

Blazing fast processors with 24 cores and 48 threads to even 32 processor cores and 64 threads are becoming a new norm in the SOOHO and consumer segment. AMD just released their 3rd generation of Threadripper processors, in this review we check out the 24-core Ryzen Threadripper 3960X.

With this year's move towards the much encouraged and respected ZEN2 architecture accompanied by that now familiar chipset design, nobody was left disappointed. For many months it remained a bit of a question mark, would AMD also release new Threadripper processors, as the Ryzen 9 3950X already has 16 cores and 32 threads and is there a point for AMD to invest in even more cores in what is a very narrow market? Well, it's AMD, of course, they would do just that for kicks and giggles to show CPU muscle. And where these mega-core processors really make little sense for your avid PC gamer, these can be very compelling products to developers, content creators and video editors. Yeah, there's no slowing down AMD as they are back at it with their Core wars against Intel as they release the Threadripper Gen3, starting with the 3960X & 3970X respectively holding 24 and 32 active ZEN2 processor cores. You know my lingo, eight is fine, sixteen is sweet and anything above that core count, spectacular. AMD overhauled the Threadripper design, PCIe Gen 4.0 anywhere and everywhere and new memory configurations make the UMA/NUMA discussion a thing of the past, heck, you can even game on these procs as if it was a Ryzen 3000 processor. The base narrative for this review is similar to that of the 3970X, just targeted at the 3960X.

Threadripper 3960X & 3970X
As mentioned, the initial launch sees two SKUs, the processors have 24c/48t and 32c/64t cores respectively. Both processors will have an up to 4.5 GHz turbo clock frequency and 3.8 GHz base clock for the 3960X and 3.7 GHz for the 3970X, which is a tremendously high value alright considering the number of processor cores. The prices are 1399 USD and 1999 USD respectively, slightly higher than the last-gen Threadripper. This brings the price per core to around the 60 USD marker. Realistically though, if you think a 24 or 32-core processor is a proper gaming CPU, think again and get yourself a six or eight-core processor as no game in the year 2019 and even 2020 would utilize more than, say, 10 cores in an effective manner. This many cores is intended for the more professional workloads like virtualization, raytracing, video editing and rendering and, sure, bragging rights for some. Nonetheless, the new SKUs are injected into the consumer/SOHO domain as well. Based on 7nm ZEN2 dies and the Castle Peak codename, that 32-core 3970X processor with its staggering 64 threads is just unprecedented in this desktop-class. Let me quickly add that drop-in compatibility with X399 is, unfortunately, not an option. We'll talk a bit more about that in the next chapter. For Threadripper 3000 AMD performs gauntlet sorting of the dies, Threadripper Gen3 uses (binned) the best top 2% of dies. It's now two years after the original Threadripper release and, you know it... we're closing in on 64-core processors by 2020 as that 3990X processor with 64-cores is confirmed for release in 2020 as well.


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New motherboard required

Threadripper 3000 processors are different from their predecessors mainly for reasons including PCI-Express 4.0 and further future-proofing the platform for upcoming generations - forcing AMD to introduce a new motherboard platform and chipset. The new Socket sTRX4 / TRX40 looks identical to the Socket TR4 of the first two generations of Threadrippers, but is not compatible; cooling solutions for existing Threadripper CPUs are also suitable for the new models. We'll discuss TRX40 (which we're naming T-Rex) all in more detail in this review though. But here we are, starting off two articles with 'just' 24 and 32 core parts. Oh my, how times have changed. Let's start up this review shall we?

 

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Oh 'hello there' all 48 of you ...


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