AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 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.
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X has 64 cores. As a result, it can use an enormous amount of power. There are a few points we wanted to focus on. First, this chip uses more power than chips like the Intel Xeon W-3275 and Core i9-10980XE. For the intended market, using 1/3 more power to go from 18-28 cores to 64 cores is going to be an afterthought more than anything.
Compared to the Threadripper parts in the 32 core range, it uses significantly more power yet again. If your workloads are focused on applications where one is memory bandwidth per core constrained, or if you can simply not use 64 cores, then this is a large power premium to spend. On the other hand, 175W or so is not much if you can effectively use the cores.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 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 3990X v. AMD Alternatives
When we did our AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X Review and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X Review, we noted at the time that for some users, the 3960X would be the better buy. 24 cores and 48 threads when one can make more power and more memory bandwidth per core available can be beneficial in some workloads. In others, the 32 cores of the 3970X were significantly better.
With the Threadripper 3990X we see a furthering of this model. For those who are using these parts for rendering and other tasks that scale well with cores, there is going to be a big benefit to the new chips. For those who do not have applications that scale well, we are going to recommend the lower core count Threadripper 3970X and 3960X instead.
AMD also has chips like the AMD EPYC 7702P which offers the same core counts at lower power levels. The EPYC part also has 8-channel memory and 128x PCIe Gen4 lanes. There are going to be workloads that specifically work better on EPYC than on the Threadripper 3990X. We discussed this in our AMD EPYC 7002 Rome v Threadripper for Workstations piece where you can find the accompanying video here:
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X v. Intel Alternatives
When we look at the Intel side, it is much harder. Intel has direct competitors to the Threadripper 3970X and 3960X such as the Intel Xeon W-3275. The Xeon W series has support for features such as AVX-512, VNNI, and DDR4 RDIMMs which are lacking on the Threadripper 3990X. If you are looking for more direct parity with the Xeon W, then the Threadripper 3970X or 3960X are the chips to look at.
The Xeon W-3275 is about 10% more expensive than the Threadripper 3990X at this point. Intel is also about to refresh a line of dual-socket Xeon workstation parts which will put more pressure on the 3990X. Yet, at the time of this writing, that refresh has not happened yet.
Coming full circle here, let us talk monster trucks and the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X. Just as a monster truck consumes more fuel, the 3990X consumes more power. Both cost more than their lower-end stablemates. In both cases, that is fine because of the specific performance each can offer. While a monster truck has workloads such as crushing cars and generally putting smiles on the faces of 5-99 year olds, the Threadripper 3990X has workloads that it excels at such as rendering.
By the same token, going to the grocery store or picking one’s kids up from school in a monster truck may not be the most efficient use of the vehicle. This is just like using Threadripper 3990X time to run Microsoft Outlook. That brings us to the second segment we will call “that guy.”
While there is one potential set of buyers who will purchase the 3990X because it improves their profession, there are others that specifically want the experience. To be more precise, there are those who want to show to others that they have access to the 64-core experience just as those who want to deafen parking lots with their monster trucks on mundane tasks. We showed Windows and Linux benchmarks, but some will only care about being able to show that they use a 64-core CPU before that becomes mainstream years down the road.
For most of our users, frankly, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X or 3960X are going to be the better buys. If you need a CPU performance profile where core counts are prioritized, then the Threadripper 3990X brings a new capability to the market that you cannot currently get with Intel.
There is another aspect of this that aligns with the monster truck analogy: pushing boundaries. We appreciate the fact that AMD is pushing boundaries and giving access to technology even if it is targeted at specific segments. For those who can use the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X and its 64 cores/ 128 threads, along with PCIe Gen4 I/O, a completely new tier of per-socket performance is attainable. Having those options is important to drive the market forward, pushing boundaries, and advancing what can be created on the desktop.