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The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a beastly 16-core gaming processor

By Koh Wanzi - on 11 Jun 2019, 7:19am

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a beastly 16-core gaming processor

The Ryzen 9 3950X is a 16-core gaming CPU.

When AMD announced its new Ryzen 3000 processors and the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X at Computex 2019, there was plenty of talk about whether AMD would go beyond 12 cores for its mainstream line-up. As it turns out, yes. The company today announced the Ryzen 9 3950X, a 16-core/32-thread chip that is being touted as a gaming CPU instead of a workstation part. 

Here's a look at how it stacks up against the rest of the Ryzen 3000 series:

  Cores/Threads Base/Boost clock Total Cache TDP Price (USD)
Ryzen 9 3950X 16/32 3.5GHz/4.7GHz 72MB 105W $749
Ryzen 9 3900X 12/24 3.8GHz/4.6GHz 70MB 105W $499
Ryzen 7 3800X 8/16 3.9GHz/4.5GHz 36MB 105W $399
Ryzen 7 3700X 8/16 3.6GHz/4.4GHz 36MB 65W $329
Ryzen 5 3600X 6/12 3.8GHz/4.4GHz 35MB 95W $249
Ryzen 5 3600 6/12 3.6GHz/4.2GHz 35MB 65W $199

But while the rest of the Ryzen 3000 series will be available to buy on 7 July, the Ryzen 9 3950X will launch only in September. 

AMD has so far held back on releasing numbers for the new 16-core chip though, but the company seems confident about its gaming performance, especially since it is positioning it more as a gaming CPU than a chip for content creators. 

One area that will really see a benefit from the extra cores is streaming. AMD showed off the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X running alongside the octa-core Intel Core i9-9900K, where the former was able to push nearly 60FPS on Twitch when streaming Tom Clancy's The Division 2 using OBS' super demanding Slow quality preset. In comparison, the Core i9-9900K inched along at a mere 1.6FPS. 

Image Source: AMD

In addition, in overclocking demonstrations, the Ryzen 9 3950X handily broke records for Cinebench R20 for a 16-core CPU, topping the previous record of 10,895 set by the Intel Core i9-7960X. AMD was able to push the chip to 5.3GHz on liquid nitrogen, with the memory further clocked to between 4,266MHz and 4,533MHz. 

Nevertheless, the previous Ryzen processors haven't exactly taken to overclocking super well, so it remains to be seen how the new chips will do with more conventional cooling solutions. 

However, AMD has taken steps to simplify the overclocking process. Motherboard manufacturers currently design their own OC menus, which mean that the BIOS interface can vary quite a bit from board to board. AMD wants to change that by introducing a new OC menu that will be common to all X570 boards. The new menu will be a one-stop shop for performance tweaking, and include simple help text for over 50 settings. 

Image Source: AMD

Ryzen Master is getting upgrades to make overclocking on Windows easier as well. It now supports full DRAM timing controls with the ability to import or export profiles, comes with a full view of CPU power management, and enables the new Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) with automatic overclocking. To recap, PBO looks at power, thermal design current, and electrical design current to decide if there is additional headroom to increase CPU frequency and voltage for better performance. 

Automatic overclocking ties into that by allowing Ryzen 3000 chips to deliver even higher performance by increasing the maximum clock frequency. It's sort of an extension of XFR, and it can also increase the boost clock headroom in systems with high-end motherboards that can support these increases. 

On the topic of memory overclocking, AMD is also pushing that hard this time around with a new memory controller design and optimized trace routing on X570 motherboards. The company says that DDR4-3733 memory occupies a unique sweet spot that you should aim for, and the Infinity Fabric interconnect is tied to memory clock at a 1:1 ratio up till that point. 

Separately, AMD also fleshed out the lower-end of its line-up in the form of the Ryzen 5 3400G and Ryzen 3 3200G, both of which come with Radeon RX Vega graphics on board. But unlike their higher-end Ryzen 3000 counterparts, these will support PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0.

Image Source: AMD

Here's an overview of their specifications:

  Cores/Threads Base/Boost clock Gamecache TDP Price (USD)
Ryzen 5 3400G 4/8 3.7GHz/4.2GHz 6MB 65W $149
Ryzen 3 3200G 4/4 3.6GHz/4.0GHz 6MB 65W $99

The term "gamecache" was coined by AMD to reference how crucial the L3 cache size is to gaming performance. L3 cache sizes doubled in Zen 2, and AMD says this helps reduce effective memory latency and can increase gaming performance by up to 21 per cent.

Finally, more Ryzen processors are now bundled with AMD's top-end Wraith Prism cooler. With Ryzen 3000, all Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 chips will get the cooler. In addition, the Wraith Prism now supports Razer Chroma lighting, so you can sync it up with devices in the Chroma ecosystem.