New CPU Launches: AMD Threadripper 3960X, 3970X VS Intel i9 10980XE

CG Director Author Jerry James  by Jerry James   ⋮   ⋮   17 comments
CGDirector is Reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
New CPU Launches: AMD Threadripper 3960X, 3970X VS Intel i9 10980XE

AMD’s much-awaited, much-hyped Threadripper 3000 processors are finally here. In this preview, I’ll quickly go over the different processors in this lineup and compare them with their closest competitors.

The Threadripper 3000 Lineup

In addition to the 24 and 32-core processors that were launched on the 25th, AMD also revealed a surprise 64-core/128-thread desktop processor – slated for release in 2020. Here’s the full Threadripper 3000 lineup:

Name (Model Number)Cores/ThreadsBase Clock/Boost ClockPrice (USD)
Threadripper 3960X24/483.8 GHz/4.5 GHz$1399
Threadripper 3970X32/643.7 GHz/4.5 GHz$1999
Threadripper 3990X64/128-/- (TBA)- (TBA)

A Quick Verdict: Are they Worth It?

The absolute value champion, for most multi-threaded CPU workloads, is the Threadripper 3960X. Although the 3970X does outshine it by a considerable margin in some tasks, in a few tasks, the performance uplift isn’t worth the price premium. Video editing comes to mind.

That said, if you’re building a PC for workloads that won’t make use of the capabilities of Threadripper’s HEDT platform (quad-channel memory, many more PCI-E lanes, and so on), the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and 3900X CPUs still offer excellent value.

However, if you’re looking for the very best, the AMD Threadripper 3970X is it. It outperforms any CPU on the market today in most popular workloads (rendering, video editing, workstation tasks, etc.)

Benchmarking Scores show us at a glance how well these new CPUs perform: Cinebench R20, Cinebench R15, Blender.

What About the New Intel Core i9 10980XE? How Does it Compare?

Intel’s ‘new’ processor lineup is sadly not so new after all. It is a refresh of the older 9000-series parts with a few tweaks. However, these tweaks don’t improve performance over last generation – instead, the hardware mitigations for security vulnerabilities seem to have slowed them down in some tasks!

AMD’s launch on the other hand, brings new levels of performance to the table with the Threadripper 3960X and 3970X.

Intel’s 18-core processor is no match for AMD’s offerings, in any task. While previous generations had a significant single-threaded advantage, Threadripper 3000 firmly trounces Intel’s HEDT offerings on that front as well. Spoiler alert – even Adobe workloads, which have traditionally done exceptionally well on Intel processors, have a new performance king!

Does this mean there’s no point buying an Intel HEDT processor? Funnily enough, due to AMD, not necessarily.

Who Can Buy an Intel Core i9 10980XE?

If you’re stuck in the weird situation where you need the power/extensibility of an HEDT platform, decent single-core performance, but don’t have the budget to reach for AMD’s starting price of $1400 (USD), Intel’s 10980XE might have something to offer.

If AMD’s new TRX 40 platform for Threadripper 3000 was backwards compatible, I could have suggested a different route. But due to the lack of flexibility on that front, we’re left with not too many choices for those shopping in the $500-1000 price range and also need access to HEDT features.

Please do keep in mind that the Ryzen 9 3900X and 3950X CPUs are superior products if you can make do with the mainstream AM4 platform. You can find out more about HEDT vs. mainstream platforms here in our Intel vs AMD post.

Viewport Performance and Rendering Performance – All in One?

Yes. We finally do have a processor that does it all. AMD’s newest Threadripper chips offer snappy viewport performance (almost on par to what the Intel Core i9 9900K offers) while  having much better CPU rendering performance. Take a look at our updated Cinema 4D Viewport benchmarks to better gauge what you can expect.

For those of us who weren’t too happy about maintaining and using separate machines for rendering and viewport tasks, this is the perfect solution.

 

Our readers have been quite anxious to find out more about Threadripper 3000 ever since it was teased months ago, which is why I felt it prudent to offer a quick preview of these new CPUs. We’ll be covering the best TRX 40 motherboards along with more details about the chipset soon!

 

As always, if you need any advice/help with your PC builds, do leave a comment below!

Find a new friend on the CGDirector Forum! Expert Advice & PC-Build Planning with a warm and friendly Community! :)

Jerry James - post author

Hi, I’m Jerry – a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I’ve been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I’ll do my best to help out!

17
Comments
Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

Scott

Exactly what I needed! Thank you so much for the short and sweet analysis Jerry. It’s one of the most condensed, cohesive pieces of information I’ve read on the subject (I’ve been through like 5 terrible websites trying to find a simple answer).
I fit into that weird category of people that you mention, but I cannot, for the life of me, find a 10980XE in stock anywhere. What do you suggest? Should I just go with Threadripper 2000? Or do I absolutely need to stretch my budget to buy the Threadripper 3960x? I was hoping to spend around $1500 for CPU and motherboard. My work requires the use of at least 3-4 GPUs.
Again, amazing amazing website! Thank you!

Cooe

I REALLY hope you didn’t actually buy a Threadripper 2000 CPU & a dead-end X399 motherboard in 2020… Right??? The correct answer was YES, you should stretch your budget & get Threadripper 3000 instead. The 24-core TR 3960X is literally TWICE AS FAST as the prior-gen 16-core TR 2950X in multi-core workloads, and has ≈+25% better single-core performance as well. All with a similar power draw.

Buying into the dead end TR 2000/X399 platform at this point simply makes no freaking sense, whatsoever.

Not to mention the fact that TRX40 comes with full PCIe 4.0 support which is a BIG deal for a multi-GPU acceleration rig as ALL the new GPU’s launching this year (AMD’s RDNA 2 & Nvidia’s Ampere) & indefinitely going forward will support PCIe 4.0 for 2x the bandwidth on the same 16x lane connection.

Scott

I actually did get a 2nd Gen Threadripper at a steal of a price and I love it! This machine primarly handles GPU rendering work because I have a separate system with a Ryzen 9 3900x for actually doing work. The price to pay for 4.0 was too high for my budget then sadly. Plus GPUs don’t yet saturate the PCIe link when rendering so my machine should be good to use for a couple of years easily.

Duru

With 64 cores cpus does one still need gpu rendering? I want to know how far ahead or behind a 64 cores Threadripper is relative to a 2080 ti.

Eric

Hey Jerry,

More of a tangential, off of another tangent, question lol. If one ordered the 3970x (found a listing finally!) and planning on getting the Aorus TRX40 Extreme MB for it, how would you strategize your case search? That MB is listed as an XL-ATX, and if you limit to cases explicitly complying with that youre left with just a few monstrous super cases, id hate to have to go that route. Surely there are some beefier E-ATX cases that could house it? With the known MB dimensions, is there any other metric i can use to be “sure” a case will sufficiently mount a given MB, or am i really restricted to the few cases explicitly listing “XL-ATX” compatible? Have a suspicion some cases may be big enough but manufactures wouldnt think to list XL-ATX, doesnt seem to be a prevelant thing.

Again on cases, ive been trying to find out how much i need to concern myself with how a case rates on airflow if my GPU is AIO liquid cooled, and another AIO cooler for CPU (kraken x72)? I want the best i can get, but wondering if i shouldnt be so quick to count out a middle of the pack airflow rated case if it checks my size/acoustic/aesthetic boxes since i may not be as dependant on the airflow?

Thanks for the tips!

Myyas Sakaji

can i build a 3 GPU + 2 nvme machine using x570 ? Gpus must runs on x8 minimum,
the ASUS Pro WS X570-Ace , claims to have 3 x8 PCi-E lanes , i dont know about this, any input from you ?

Ard

You are correct, the Pro WS X570-ACE meets your requirements. It achieves x8x8x8 by utilizing chipset PCIe lanes.
Note that it has 1x u.2 and 1x m.2 port both of which you can connect nvme SSDs to. (So you will need your 2 hard nvme hard drives will need to have different form factors.)

Though I do ask the question, are you sure you need 3 GPUs at x8? Some workloads such as 3D visualization doesn’t require that amount of bandwidth to all the GPUs – I’ve seen tests where x4 performs almost identically to x16. Though granted there are use cases where the overhead of sending a lot of data to the GPUs is significant and so the x8 is needed. What are you using this machine for?

Myyas Sakaji

Thanks for your replies ,
the machine will be used for Rendering using GPU render engines like Octane/Redshift ,
i had to ask this question because some motherboards offer 3 x8 or 4×16 lanes on PCIe. while the CPU can only offer 24 lane, which is wierd to me, how can the motherboard offer more lanes than what the CPU could have .

i looked around and it turns out that these motherboards have somthing called ” PLX ” chip, but till now , i dont know if there are drawbacks to this or not

Cooe

What you’re not understanding is that the motherboard chipset adds additional PCIe lanes for I/O. That would be +16x additional lanes w/ X570 (on top of Ryzen’s 24x lanes on the CPU die itself) or +24x lanes w/ Z490. These additional lanes are all connected to the CPU by the single PCIe x4 connection that links the CPU & mobo chipset together (which is PCIe 4.0 on X570 for 8GB/s of bandwidth but PCIe 3.0 on Intel for just 4GB/s/).

This means you can connect up to 16x-24x (AMD/Intel) lanes worth of additional devices to your board at one time, BUT you cannot use all those devices at the same time full tilt without causing bottlenecking due to the 4 or 8GB/s link from chipset to CPU.

Aka, if you had 2x M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD’s connected to those chipset lanes, you could only write to one of them at full speed (≈3-4GB/s) at a time on an Intel PC. If you tried to run both full tilt at once, each drive’s speed would get cut in half as they both have to share the same x4 lane connection to the CPU.

This isn’t nearly as much of a problem for AMD/X570 because it’s using PCIe 4.0, so that 4x lane link can handle TWICE the amount of data. Aka, you could drive 2x PCIe 3.0 SSD’s full speed through the chipset, juuuuuust fine (though that would use up most of the 8GB/s link).