AMD THREADRIPPER 2 2920X AND 2970WX CPUS
Unprecedented levels of desktop computing power.
AMD came roaring back into the HEDT market with the release of first generation Threadripper processors in mid-2017, topped by the 16 core 1950X. 16 cores was just a tease though as the 1950X used only two of the four dies present. This design left open the possibility that we’d eventually get a full 32 core option, which is exactly what we got with the release of the 2990WX a couple of months back.
Now we have the final two second-generation Threadripper models making their debut. The 2970WX is a 24 core/48 thread CPU. It’s joined by the 12 core/24 thread 2920X, which promises a good blend of single and multi-threaded grunt and is more accommodating of 2018 consumer-level software and Windows scheduling. In many ways Threadripper is ahead of its time. Apps with the appropriate threading support simply thrive, but the problem remains; many apps just can’t make use of all the multithreading power on hand.
ZEN+ AND 12NM REFINEMENTS
Second generation Ryzen processors carry all the improvements introduced with second generation Ryzen earlier in 2018. The improved 12nm process leads to better power efficiency and increased frequencies. Add in lower cache latencies and improved memory support and we also get better performance clock for clock. The maximum official memory support has been increased to DDR4-2933.
Threadripper 2 is supported by all existing X399 motherboards after a BIOS update, negating the need for an additional motherboard purchase. X399 motherboards pack in a great set of features, perhaps most noteworthy being the availability of 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This means there’s enough bandwidth on hand to handle multi GPU systems or complex SSD arrays without having to consult the motherboard manual to see what works if you add this or install that.
RYZEN MASTER IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT
Ryzen Master is AMD’s control app. It closely resembles the Radeon driver control panel. It packs in a heap of tweakable settings and monitoring information. Most users will still use the BIOS for serious tweaking, but Ryzen Master has a particularly important toggle that you should use if you are gaming: Game Mode. As many game engines simply cannot handle very high core counts, Game Mode, or Legacy Compatibility Mode, disables ½ or ¾ of the available cores. To get the best gaming performance out of Threadripper, you really should enable Legacy Compatibility Mode as even 16 cores can present some problems for game engines.
MULTI THREADING DOMINANCE
As we expected, Threadripper CPUs dominate heavily threaded benchmarks. The WX models in particular laugh off even the mighty Intel i97980XE. Apps that support very high core counts perform magnificently. As we see though, many apps just cannot deal with high core counts. We tested a new benchmark called
“Under load, the 2970WX never even hit 70° with all 24 cores and 48 threads at 100% load. The 2920X was even better, barely cracking 60°. ”
Cinegy Cinescore. It too fails to scale over 16c/32t.
Gaming is a real mixed bag. Initial testing gave some very strange results with the WX models in particular, showing that some game engines all but break with very high core count CPUs. To counter this, we enabled the Legacy Game Mode in the Ryzen Master software. Doing this mostly brought the WX models into line with the 2700X. Outright gaming performance still favours Intel, but remember the gap is basically nothing at high resolution and image quality settings where the load switches back to the GPU.
Threadripper CPUs run remarkably cool, staying in the low 30’s when at idle. Under load, the 2970WX never even hit 70° with all 24 cores and 48 threads at 100% load. The 2920X was even better, barely cracking 60°. It’s clear that Threadripper’s individual dies, soldered heatspreaders and large cooling contact areas make a huge difference.
CAN YOU MAKE USE OF ALL THE MULTITHREADED GRUNT ON HAND?
The 2970WX is an absolute monster just like its big brother 2990WX, but only if you use software that can take advantage of all the parallel power on hand. If you don’t use applications that support highly multithreaded workloads, then the WX series CPUs are very much overkill.
The 2920X with its 12 cores offers a good blend of multi-core power, but in a more 2018 consumer friendly package. If you find yourself doing a frequent mix of tasks, then it’s a terrific CPU. Regular users and gamers are still better off with the mainstream platforms though. Not that they’re aimed at regular users. Threadripper is all about providing unprecedented levels of desktop computing power. If you can make use of that power, they become very compelling options indeed.
CPU 2920X $999, 2970WX $1,999 | WWW.AMD.COM