So what’s the big deal about Thread­rip­per?

HWM (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

It’s safe to say that AMD has left the trou­bled days of Bull­dozer be­hind it. Ryzen Thread­rip­per is an ad­mirable re-en­try into the HEDT mar­ket, and it’s look­ing like a very com­pelling op­tion com­pared to In­tel’s Core X pro­ces­sors.

One of its big­gest sell­ing points is its price, where a 16-core/32-thread chip is going for the same US$999 price tag as In­tel’s 10-core/20-thread of­fer­ing. To be sure, the In­tel Core i9-7900X still holds a lead in games and other ap­pli­ca­tions that pri­or­i­tize higher IPCs and don’t yet prop­erly utilize all those threads on Thread­rip­per, but AMD’s chips serve up ex­cel­lent per­for­mance for heav­i­lythreaded ap­pli­ca­tions that do.

The Thread­rip­per 1920X is par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive — it is US$200 cheaper but still man­ages to out­per­form the Core i97900X in some work­loads, while com­ing very close in oth­ers.

On top of that, there’s AMD’s re­fusal to seg­ment its fea­tures. While you’d have to shell out US$999 for the 44 PCIe lanes on In­tel’s chip that will un­lock the full po­ten­tial of In­tel’s X299 chipset, all the Thread­rip­per pro­ces­sors will have 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes, even the US$549 Thread­rip­per 1900X.

There’s also none of the con­fu­sion that stems from cer­tain ports and fea­tures be­ing dis­abled when other con­nec­tors are pop­u­lated, thanks to the gen­er­ous pro­vi­sion of PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU.

All things con­sid­ered, it seems dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend the In­tel Core i9-7900X over Thread­rip­per. In­tel has the up­per­hand in terms of per-core IPC, and it comes ahead in games, but Thread­rip­per does re­ally well in pro­fes­sional ap­pli­ca­tions that prop­erly make use of all its cores and threads.

If you’re a con­tent cre­ator that games on the side, Thread­rip­per is shap­ing up to be a very strong op­tion. Fur­ther­more, Sky­lake-X is plagued by heat is­sues that limit its over­clock­ing head­room and re­quires an AIO cooler at the min­i­mum, and en­thu­si­asts have turned up their noses at In­tel’s use of ther­mal in­ter­face ma­te­rial (TIM) in­stead of a sol­dered in­te­grated heat­spreader (IHS), which is what Thread­rip­per uses.

The Core i9-7900X is by no means a bad CPU. It’s blaz­ing fast, but it’s also very ex­pen­sive, which is why Thread­rip­per looks so threat­en­ing.

In­tel will hit back hard with its 12- to 18-core pro­ces­sors that will ar­rive over the next cou­ple of months, so we ex­pect it to wrest back the crown in terms of multi-threaded per­for­mance, but the flag­ship In­tel Core i9-7980XE will cost an eye-wa­ter­ing US$1,999.

Yes, that’s a big change from the

“The Core i9-7900X is by no means a bad CPU. It’s blaz­ing fast, but it’s also very ex­pen­sive, which is why Thread­rip­per looks so threat­en­ing.”

deca-core Core i7-6950X that de­buted at US$1,723 just over a year ago, but AMD’s re­vival has changed the rules of the game some­what. In­tel can no longer im­pose strato­spheric prices with im­punity, be­cause there is ac­tu­ally a vi­able and cheaper al­ter­na­tive that is just wait­ing to be picked up.

It’s the same story with Ryzen. You don’t have to be the ab­so­lute fastest to come out a win­ner, and some­times it’s all about of­fer­ing bet­ter value for per­for­mance that ri­vals far more ex­pen­sive com­peti­tors.

Wel­come back, AMD.

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