AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X Power Consumption
Power consumption can vary a significant amount depending on processors used and the number of HDDs/SSDs/Expansion cards used. Here we test just a primary system. We test with the same graphics card and NVMe SSD in all our tests. Power is measured at the wall and the graphics card and SSD were not stress tested.
For our tests, we use the AIDA64 Stress test which allows us to stress all aspects of the system.
In the MSI Creator TRX40 the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X fared better than we were perhaps expecting. The maximum power consumption is somewhere between the Threadripper W2990WX on our test bench and the Threadripper 1950X. It is also in-line with the Intel numbers for higher-end platforms.
Idle is showing what we fear quite a bit with this platform. 130W is in-line with other CPUs in this category like the Intel Xeon W-3275 and Threadripper 3960X, but it is still much higher than we see down the stack. Perhaps the best course of action is to ensure you have sufficient air conditioning for the summer in a room full of these systems.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X Market Positioning
Thes chips are not released in a vacuum instead, they have competition on both the Intel and AMD sides. When you purchase a server and select a CPU, it is important to see the value of a platform versus its competitors.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X v. AMD Alternatives
Buyers of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X have a few options from AMD. We wanted to run through a few of those here.
First, one can look to the Ryzen 9 3950X and point to a lower cost/ core figure. Since there is an advantage to scaling up to more cores in a single system, we see these as completely different products.
Compared to the 2nd gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, this is simply a better platform. It is slightly more costly, but the 3970X is the part you will want going forward for 32 cores in a workstation.
Looking at the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X in comparison is really interesting. If you need the speed and want to pay for it, the 3970X is clearly the way to go. On the other hand, the Threadripper 3960X has the same expansion capabilities and with 24 cores it still offers much of the same performance at a lower cost. At a $600 delta, AMD did a solid job with differentiation. If that delta was $1000, it would be much harder to recommend the 3970X. If the delta was $300, it would be difficult to recommend the 3960X.
Professional applications are often licensed by core, which is a good reason one may opt for a different CPU, but the per-core performance is still very good. If you have applications licensed by system, then scaling to 32 cores makes perfect sense. Indeed, the licensing costs will outweigh the marginal $600 one pays for eight extra cores with the Threadripper 3970X over the 3960X.
This licensing is also why the AMD EPYC chips do not make as much sense on the desktop. While AMD has low-cost EPYC 7002 series chips with high core counts for single-socket applications, anything below the AMD EPYC 7702P 64 core or AMD EPYC 7642 parts would be hard to justify unless one needs massive RAM capacity and ECC (L)RDIMM support.
The good news is that AMD has choices.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X v. Intel Alternatives
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X’s biggest competition may come on the Intel side. Intel has two product lines that the Threadripper 3970X competes against. These are the LGA3647 Xeon W-3275 and the LGA2066 Xeon W/ Core i9 lines.
On the Intel Xeon W-3275, we see the AMD Ryzen Threadripper as a direct competitor for much of that chip’s installed base. AMD has a better platform and more cores. Intel still has six-channel memory and ECC RDIMM support which means that there are features AMD is not matching in this generation. AMD could do it, but they are not supporting RDIMMs on the Threadripper platform despite the fact that it would be relatively easy for AMD to support it on the platform with the EPYC I/O die. That is the missing feature that would have made this a clean kill versus the Xeon W-3275.
Unfortunately, Intel is launching a HEDT part today. The Intel Core i9-10980XE is priced exactly where it needs to be. While the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is a generally better-performing part with more expansion capabilities, the Intel Core i9-10980XE is no longer in the same price bracket. Instead, it costs half as much but delivers more than 50% of the more expensive part’s performance. Platform cost and capabilities dilute this delta, but it is a $1000 delta. It is slightly strange to write since it is a HEDT marketed part, but the Intel Core i9-10980XE is not really a direct competitor to the Threadripper 3970X given its pricing.
A wildcard is, of course, the Intel Xeon W-2200 series. Pricing is more in-line with the 24-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, but the Intel Xeon W-2295 supports ECC DDR4 RDIMMs which makes getting to higher capacity memory configurations both possible and less expensive. Still, it will have closer to Core i9-10980XE performance, so unless one is memory capacity constrained, it is competing with a different chip.
Putting this into context, this is a $2000 CPU. Motherboards for larger platforms like this are neither small nor inexpensive. It is challenging to compare the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X to a mainstream system just given pricing and expansion capabilities. When we look at the Intel Core i9-10980XE launched today, one can outfit an entire Core i9-10980XE system for less than the cost of the Threadripper 3970X so it is difficult to even make that comparison. Performance is better, but it should be at this pricing level.
Looking up the stack to the Intel Xeon W-3275, if you are using ~128GB of memory and do not need ECC RDIMMs, then the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is a much better buy. Power consumption is relatively similar even with a 75W TDP delta.
Whereas the AMD EPYC 7002 series is essentially a top-to-bottom better platform than the Intel Xeon Scalable platform, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is close to being perfect. If AMD supported higher-capacity ECC RDIMMs making lower-cost high-memory configurations, then the Intel Xeon W-3275 would be left with little to no differentiation. That single choice is what is keeping the Threadripper 3970X from joining the small group of STH Editors Choice Award Winners. Even though it is not getting our elite honor like its server counterpart, this is still a great platform.