The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X is a really funky CPU. With this latest generation of AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 7000WX and Threadripper 7000 processors, AMD made some segmentation choices that might seem odd at first. What is more, and more important, is that the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X is fast but in a funky way. With 64 cores and four DDR5 channels, one might assume that it is not as fast as the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 7995WX with 96 cores and 8 channels but that may not be the case depending on which systems you compare. One thing is for sure though, in response to this CPU, Intel will need to adjust its Xeon W-3400 series pricing since the “Threadripper” high-end desktop (HEDT) CPU is really an EPYC CPU in disguise.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X Overview
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X is the company’s 64 core, 128 thread HEDT part. The HEDT here is a bit strange as it means we have a part somewhere between an EPYC processor and a Ryzen desktop processor, and there is certainly some overlap between the lines. While this may look like a Threadripper (Pro) or EPYC processor of yesteryear, it is indeed, very different.
Just to illustrate why, let us take a look at the back of the processor. Here are the contact pads.
Here are the contact pads for the previous-ish Milan-based Threadripper Pro 5995WX. One can see these are not socket-compatible despite what one might think at a quick glance, and there are many reasons for that.
CPU-Z as of Version 2.08 still reports this Storm Peak CPU as a SP5 socket part instead of a SP6 part. Still, the core counts and 350W max TDP are correct. Also, from this screenshot, you may see we are hitting over 5.5GHz. That is a big part of what makes this a desktop part.
Moving to the SKUs, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X at $4999 is certainly a higher-end desktop part, but also a higher-end priced part than we saw previously.
Just for some reference points:
- 2017: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X 16 cores $999
- 2018: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX 32 cores $1799
- 2020: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64 cores $3990
- 2019-2022: WEPYC-era Threadripper Pro 3995WX and Threadripper Pro 5995WX
From the table above, one may notice several areas where AMD lowered the specs of the Threadripper series versus Threadripper Pro, including reducing the memory channels from 8 to 4 and lowering the PCIe Gen5 lane count from 128 to 48. Personally, I do not love that kind of segmentation on a $4999 part since at that price, this is not a budget gaming platform. AMD also had the AMD EPYC 8004 Siena series in the mix that it has to price against. Siena can scale to 64 cores and more DDR5/ PCIe Gen5 I/O but at lower power levels. Still, if we go back to the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX’s “funky” layout where only two of the four CCDs had DDR4 and PCIe lanes attached, we *strongly* prefer the new Threadripper 7000 series defeaturing.
The dark horse here is the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7970X. This 32-core part at half the cost ($2,499) is very good. In fact, it is the part I would buy if I were buying a pre-built Threadripper 7000 series from a traditional OEM. We are going to do a review of this part later, but in a 350W standard power envelope, other than in rendering, oftentimes the 32-core part is right with the 64-core part because it gets more power per core and therefore, more performance per core.
A welcome change for many with the series is that the new series needs to support RDIMMs. We discussed this in our piece Why DDR5 is Absolutely Necessary in Modern Servers but UDIMMs that are common in the desktop Ryzen and Intel Core lines and RDIMMs that are common in the server lineups are no longer pin compatible. You can learn more about that here:
For the Threadripper series, that means that, unlike previous generations, the new parts need to use RDIMMs, not standard desktop UDIMMs.
While the quad channel DDR5 is a challenge, there is another way to look at it. Instead of DDR4-3200 in the previous generation, we get DDR5, and there are now overclocked modules. We had access to a 128GB kit (4x 32GB) of G.Skill Zeta R5 Neo memory that has AMD EXPO timings and can run at DDR5-6400 speeds.
While we only get four channels of memory, using these faster DIMMs we can get an effective memory bandwidth more similar to the 8-channel Threadripper Pro 5000WX series even though we only have four channels of memory.
On the PCIe Gen5 side, we get 48 lanes. Let us not pretend this is anything but what it is: this sucks. At the 32-core and lower end of the Threadripper line, one could argue that it is a huge step up from the desktop parts. For a $5000 CPU, AMD needs to do better. One could argue that fewer PCIe lanes mean lower-cost motherboards. It may, but the ASUS Pro WS TRX50-SAGE WiFi is not a cheap platform by any means, and we do not expect to see $399 motherboards in the market. The buy-in cost is likely going to be more like twice that and more. Once motherboards hit the $1000-ish price range, including tax and shipping, it is harder to justify only having enough I/O for three full-speed PCIe Gen5 x16 lanes.
With that said, we put a system together using a Hyte Y60 (Amazon Affiliate), a NZXT Kraken 360 liquid cooler (Amazon Affiliate), and the recently launched AMD Radeon Pro W7700 16GB ECC GPU, and the system not only performed well, but it was a zero drama Windows 11 Pro installation.
The performance of this system should scare traditional OEMs like Lenovo, HP, and Dell. Let us get to why next.