AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Review 64 Cores for a Workstation

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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.

AMD Threadripper 3990x Power
AMD Threadripper 3990x Power

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.

Final Words

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.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front With Lego Monster Truck
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front With Lego Monster Truck

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I know it’s an ad, but the point made in the “Red Digital Cinema gets 64-Core Performance” video is what makes these CPUs so important:

    Jarred Land: When I see this, how fast it is, it lets me get a liiiiiittle bit more aggressive with what we’re going to do next. With what we have on our roadmap, please, keep going, keep going, because we’re gonna need it.

    Everything is connected. You can’t push the boundaries in one field if the technology in another is lacking.

  2. Great review, John.

    Just a thought/suggestion for a future article: It’d be great to see a round up of these workstation CPUs benchmarked with 16, 32, and 64 threads loaded. Particularly given how the higher end models can be quite a lot better binned silicon and how the CPU boosting technologies are implemented. It’d be really interesting to see the power draw and performance to see if the higher end models perform similarly at less power at moderate loads. I know previously it’s sometimes been better and cheaper, TCO wise, to buy the more expensive models for finish quicker then sleep efficiency advantages and also the better silicon – am curious if this might be the case for the 3990X.

  3. According to Anandtech, you need Windows for Workstations to be able to use more than 64 threads effectively. I don’t see this being commented on in this article. Has that Windows version been used for the testing?

  4. @Nikolay
    you can use more than 64t but consumer versions partition it into processor groups thinking they are on separate sockets. However someone had mentioned that his Windows Pro machine only sees one socket in the task manager so I don’t know. Maybe it’s due to firmware or uefi settings? Or a much more recent update/patch or chipset driver package from AMD?

  5. Imagine what it will be like in 3-5 years after Intel and AMD go a few more rounds. Looking forward to purchasing a 256 core 512 threads . Maybe then I can install Oracle Fusion Applications in my home lab.

  6. I have a 3990X machine here that I initially set up with Windows 10 Pro and then for fun decided to “upgrade” to Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Can safely say there was 0% difference between the two OS, zero difference in how thread scheduling works, both have two NUMA nodes for the CPU.

    The only change is that my bank account lost around $150 for the upgrade fee. Every other feature that Win 10 Workstation offers is basically useless far as my purposes.

  7. Is it a do for Short list linked compatible single dual quad socks momo,s for all cpu’n review White Sheets. Thank I Today, Another Good Day With God

  8. How does this New NUMA Node Layout effect something like ESXi and VMs within it? I would think consolidating to One node instead of 4 (2 with direct memory access and 2 without) would be a game changer. I am new to reading up on all this so I was hoping you could provide your opinion

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