High-End Desktop? What’s That?

The Ryzen 9 3950X Comes Into View

As teased at E3 and seemingly every show that AMD has been to since, we’re now ready to get our hands on AMD’s top-tier consumer-grade processor. The Ryzen 9 3950X is the bigger cousin to the Ryzen 9 3900X, this time using two 8-core chiplets built on TSMC’s 7nm process with the Zen 2 microarchitecture. This is paired with the same I/O die, and overall this Ryzen 9 3950X will offer four more cores and +100 MHz on the turbo frequency over the 3900X, all at a $749 recommended retail price point.

AMD 'Matisse' Ryzen 3000 Series CPUs
AnandTech Cores
TDP Price
Ryzen 9 3950X 16C 32T 3.5 4.7 8 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $749
Ryzen 9 3900X 12C 24T 3.8 4.6 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $499
Ryzen 9 3900 12C 24T 3.1 4.3 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 65W OEM
Ryzen 7 3800X 8C 16T 3.9 4.5 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 105W $399
Ryzen 7 3700X 8C 16T 3.6 4.4 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $329
Ryzen 5 3600X 6C 12T 3.8 4.4 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 95W $249
Ryzen 5 3600 6C 12T 3.6 4.2 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $199
Ryzen 5 3500X 6C 6T 3.6 4.1 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W OEM

The Ryzen 9 3950X will be compatible in the majority of AM4 motherboards, although in order to take advantage of the 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes on the CPU, an X570 motherboard is recommended. The 16 cores offer a 3.5 GHz base frequency and a 4.7 GHz single core boost frequency; the overall all-core turbo frequency will be dependent on the motherboard used, the quality of the silicon, and the turbo in play.

The 105W TDP matches that of the 12-core part, and it should be noted that the 3950X will not come with an in-the-box cooler. Instead, AMD argues that customers looking at this price range of CPU typically go out and purchase their own, something better than the 125 W Wraith Prism that AMD might have put in the box. To that end AMD is going to publish a list of recommended cooling solutions that are pre-validated by AMD on the website, which should be live on today (the 7th).

Regarding BIOS and AGESA versions on motherboards: AMD has stated that AGESA (also known as Patch B) is going to be required in order to enable full performance on the Ryzen 9 3950X. AMD stated that this AGESA version actually unites several different groups of Ryzen CPUs under the same numbering scheme, to make it easier to manage. It is worth noting that when quizzed, AMD acknowledged that some motherboard manufacturers were putting out ‘beta’ versions of, rather than the full release, and they recommend that users should wait for a full version for their motherboard (even though some motherboard manufacturers aren’t exactly being clear).

In terms of performance, AMD claims a +22% single thread performance jump for the 3950X over the 2700X, in 1080p gaming the company claims it goes toe-to-toe against the Core i9-9900K and trounces the Core i9-9920X (a $1200 CPU), and in content creation it surpasses both the 9900K and 9920X by 18-79% in selected tests. The company also states that a 16-core 3950X uses less wall power than an 8-core 9900K system.

Unlocked CPU Pricing
and Select Others
(MSRP Pricing)
Cores AnandTech Cores Intel*
(OEM Pricing)
    $900-$999 18/36 Core i9-10980XE ($979)
Ryzen 9 3950X ($749) 16/32 $700-$799 14/28 Core i9-10940X ($784)
    $600-$699 12/24 Core i9-10920X ($689)
    $500-$599 10/20
Core i9-10900X ($590)
Core i9-9900KS ($513)
Ryzen 9 3900X ($499) 12/24 $400-$499 8/16 Core i9-9900K/F ($488)
Ryzen 7 3800X ($399) 8/16 $350-$399 8/8 Core i7-9700K/F ($374)
Ryzen 7 3700X ($329) 8/16 $300-$349    
    $250-$299 6/6 Core i5-9600K ($262)
Ryzen 5 3600X ($249) 6/12 $200-$249    
Ryzen 5 3600 ($199) 6/12 Below $200 4/4 Core i3-9350K ($173)
*Intel quotes OEM/tray pricing. Retail pricing will sometimes be $20-$50 higher.

With Intel cutting its upcoming Cascade Lake-X HEDT processor line in half (and conveniently not releasing a 16-core part), the field does get a little more competitive for anyone looking at building a holiday system. What is important to note here is that AMD is shifting the line between consumer and high-end desktop higher: users spending $749 on a CPU get a ton of cores, but if they need more PCIe lanes, they have to go even higher to get the latest and greatest (see 3rd Gen Threadripper below). On a different note, AMD did state that Intel’s recent price adjustments had no effect on its product plans.

One side announcement from AMD, regarding all of the Ryzen 3000 hardware, is that every CPU now supports a cTDP down mode through the Ryzen Master software. With the tool, users can select the next power range down from the TDP of the processor. This means that 95W/105W CPUs can be set to run at 65W, then the 65W CPUs can be set to run at 45W, and the 45W CPUs can run at 35W.

AMD is doing this because they have seen a number of customers request high-core count processors at lower TDP values. Rather than releasing a wide array of X and non-X parts to satisfy all different areas of the market, AMD is offering this ‘cTDP down-like’ option for system builders that do want to focus on something like a 65W 16-core processor for their system. This isn’t to say that AMD will not release non-X CPUs in the future (they’re typically cheaper than the X CPUs), but rather than have customers wait for those parts to enter the market, AMD is giving this option to speed up adoption.

AMD 2019 Fall Update 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadripper, Up to 32 Cores
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  • Teckk - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    You mean other than Chrome and Electron apps on the system ?!?
    On a serious note, can't think of anything other than Virtual Machines, Image/Video Editing and Debugging in IDEs but I don't know if that falls under 'casual everyday programs'. But again they could be for the person buying a 16-core processor for casual everyday use :)
  • DPUser - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Audio loves multiple cores... lots of parallel processes happening in a big multi-track, multi-plugin, multi-virtual instrument mix.
  • shreduhsoreus - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Audio also prefers that those cores are all on the same die, otherwise you can't get full utilization of the CPU at low buffer settings. Scan Pro Audio has found that the 3900X starts having dropouts at 70% utilization. I actually returned a 3900X because they're not that great for low latency audio production.
  • MattMe - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Is that right? I'd always understood that single core perf is extremely important in audio, not only for latency but because if you have a complex I/O chain (instrument running through multiple plugins) it has to stay on the same core.
    In Live if I have an instrument input that runs through a gate and compressor, then into another track that is running plugins (effects/loopers), that all has to be processed by a single core according to Ableton documentation. So although other instruments can be running on other cores, the single core perf is still a potential bottleneck (and frequently is!)

    (The reason I use the example of routing audio through different tracks is for monitoring and looping at multiple points of the chain.)
  • zmatt - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    I can't speak to all DAWs, it depends on which one you are talking about specifically. But I've seen good results with FL Studio with more cores and threads versus improving single threaded perf.
  • valinor89 - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    While not really needing that many cores by a long stretch I am amazed at how some Antivirus software insist on analizing all the drives on my PC serially. I get that when there is only one drive it would be I/O bound but when I have multiple drives I don't see a reason they could not scan them in paral·lel. specially when I do a Scan on demand and don't expect to be doing anything else with the PC.
  • timecop1818 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Who gives a shit about AV in 2019? If you're dumb enough to download and run pornhubvideo.jpg.mkv.exe then you deserve to get buttcoined or randomware'd
  • Oliseo - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    lol. It's cute you thinking that's how you get viruses in 2019 and not by compromised websites instead.
  • Xyler94 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Congratulation! You're part of a 1% club who knows how to detect BS stuff! Good on you!!

    For the rest of the population, those not hooked to forums like this, Anti-Virus programs are still needed. They help with many other things than downloading Trojan viruses. The easiest way to get most is actually phishing links. Even though at home I taught my mother how to look for BS links in emails, and I have a Pi-Hole VM to stop most ads, including mal-advertisement, there hasn't been a virus in our house, but I still bought a year of Bit-Defender for my mother's PC (And I may install it onto my own PC just to help clean it)
  • Irata - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    3950X is probably more of a "want" than a "need" CPU for a considerable part of buyers.

    I'd say the plus part of having many cores is that you can have several things run in parallel without having to worry much about performance.

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