AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and MSI Creator TRX40 Review

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amd threadripper 3970x ndtv threadripper

AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are not suitable for normal home or office PCs. The first thread rippers were developed as a result of a side project that some AMD engineers picked up to see how far the original Zen architecture could be advanced. Three generations have changed a lot now, but AMD is doing everything it can to keep the line going. With up to 32 cores (and soon up to 64 cores), these processors are designed in such a way that they can find their way quickly, even under heavy workloads. Not only are they successful in the professional high-end desktop market, they also have a huge fan base around the world just because they are bold and over the top.

Three years ago, the first eight-core desktop Ryzens, Intel's longstanding status quo of four cores for mainstream desktops and a maximum of ten, began to bother you when you were ready to pay for an Extreme Edition model through your nose. AMD threw a 16-core thread ripper to their knees for far less money, and since then both companies have improved their games significantly. The Threadripper series also had to evolve with the Ryzen 9 3950X, a 16-core model.

The previously announced low-end model, the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, has 24 cores, while its brother, the Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, has a whopping 32 cores. AMD has just teased the really outrageous Ryzen Threadripper 3990X with 64 cores. That leaves room for a hypothetical 48-core Ryzen Threadripper 3980X. AMD prides itself on being able to supply previously unthinkable prices with an incredible amount of electricity.

In view of the already announced and soon to be planned X-Series from Intel of the 10th generation "Cascade Lake", the competition between the two rivals is intense. Intel may not win the core count race, but it does promise competitiveness in terms of overall performance and energy efficiency. Let's see what exactly AMD has done differently with this new thread ripper series and who exactly can benefit from such an outrageous CPU.

amd threadripper 3970x ndtv threadripper

With the orange plastic container around the chip itself, you can carefully insert it into the very sensitive sTRX4 socket

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X and Ryzen Threadripper 3960X architecture and specifications

Third-generation Ryzen Threadrippers, like Ryzen's mainstream desktop counterparts, are based on AMD's Zen-2 architecture. The company has developed a modular design that enables several small chips, so-called core chiplet dies (CCDs), to be arranged in each processor. Read our full guide to Zen 2 architecture and AMD's performance improvements. Read our review of the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X and the 8-core Ryzen 7 3700X, which are based on the same basic design.

Each CCD consists of eight CPU cores plus caches, and there are four CCDs in the Ryzen Threadripper 3970X that give it its 32 cores. The Ryzen Threadripper 3960X also has four, but with one core deactivated per die (24). The architectural improvements and the sheer number of cores give these CPUs their performance.

The chiplets are produced in a 7 nm process. According to AMD, the modularity enables considerable cost savings and manufacturing flexibility compared to a monolithic chip. The CCDs are all directly connected to a common I / O chip in each processor. This controls PCIe connectivity to the rest of the computer, DDR4 memory, data storage, USB and overall chip management. This chip uses 12nm lithography, which is more suitable and economical for this type of logic. The modules communicate with each other via the AMD Infinity Fabric connection.

The previous generation Threadripper 2990WX used a non-uniform memory architecture (NUMA). This meant that not all cores were connected to system RAM in the same way, resulting in a latency imbalance between different cores trying to access memory. This was a necessary compromise to be able to implement 32 cores in an existing package and socket, and led to a certain complexity in terms of the software to be considered and possible performance compromises in certain use cases. The third generation Threadripper family does not, and all CCDs are connected symmetrically to the IO-Die.

The Ryzen Threadripper 3970X has 32 cores with multithreading for a total of 64 logical threads. It has a base speed of 3.7 GHz and a boost speed of 4.5 GHz. There is a total of 144 MB L2 and L3 cache. With the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, the number of cores is exchanged for a certain thermal headroom, so that the base speed is 3.8 GHz and the boost speed is 4.5 GHz. This model has a total of 140 MB cache.

amd threadripper 3970x box contents ndtv threadripper

The sales packaging contains some accessories and is designed to remain on display

Both models have a TDP power of 280W. The massive Wraithripper air cooler that AMD developed with Cooler Master for the previous generation has not been updated. Therefore, liquid cooling seems to be the way to go. RAM support officially reaches an astonishing 256 GB DDR4-3200 on four channels. You get 64 PCIe 4.0 lanes from each CPU for a huge increase in bandwidth compared to the previous generation.

Unfortunately there is no backward compatibility with existing motherboards. The new Zen 2 architecture and scalable design required a new routing design and a new CPU socket, which AMD calls sTRX4. Some enthusiasts may be disappointed that Ryzen's mainstream philosophy of maintaining compatibility has not been adopted, but you may still want a new motherboard that takes advantage of PCIe 4.0. We'll talk more about that later in the review.

AMD has priced the 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 3970X at Rs. 1,440,990 plus taxes in India ($ 1,999 in the U.S.), while the 24-core Ryzen 3960X thread ripper sells for $ US. 99,990 plus tax ($ 1,399). These prices are slightly above the costs of the previous versions. According to AMD, the second generation Threadripper family will continue to be available and we hope for price cuts that will open them up to new markets.

Intel recently announced massive price cuts for its upcoming Cascade Lake-X generation, which will soon be available with up to 18 cores, which should make things even more interesting. Most AMD advertising claims are based on comparisons with the current Skylake-X refresh generation, but the company claims that it will continue to be competitive with Cascade Lake-X.

AMD has simplified the retail packaging for third-generation Threadripper CPUs considerably less technically. You still get a display-ready box that looks great on the shelves but is much smaller. The chip itself is still supplied in a bright orange caddy that is inserted into a rail on the sTRX4 socket for safety reasons. Inside is a Torx screwdriver that applies just the right amount of torque to the retention mechanism, a ring adapter for the coolers, and finally a huge sticker that shows the world what you're running at the moment.

amd threadripper 3970x rear ndtv threadripper

The sales packaging contains some accessories and is designed to remain on display

Technical data and features of the AMD TRX40 platform

For this new generation of CPUs there is a new chipset and a number of new motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and ASRock. Fortunately, AMD has given up its Intel Clone-like naming scheme, which has massively messed up the market. The TRX40 chipset gets its name from the sTRX4 socket, which makes sense. According to AMD, it is similar to the X570 chipset used by popular third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Given the fact that the new thread rippers are only enlarged versions of these chips, this is not a big surprise.

As with X570 motherboards, all TRX40 models have thin fans. This is not ideal as it is another point at which potential noise, dust accumulation and physical failure can occur in a PC in the long run. The big difference is that you get twice the bandwidth between CPU and chipset (4x compared to Ryzen and Ryzen Threadrippers of the second generation) in the form of eight PCIe 4.0 lanes. This should have a positive effect on PCIe SSDs, network controllers and all other components downstream of the chipset.

16 PCIe 4.0 lanes are created from the TRX40. Motherboard manufacturers will have some flexibility when it comes to assigning lanes between PCIe and M.2 slots and adding all types of onboard IOs including Wi-Fi. Four USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (10 Gbit / s) are fed directly from the CPU and four more can be routed via the TRX40. You can also use up to four USB 2.0 ports and a total of up to 20 SATA 3.0 ports.

In contrast to desktop Ryzen models, the sTRX4 socket uses a land grid array with pins in the socket and pads on the CPU. It has the same 4,094 pin count as the previous generation, but the two are physically and electronically incompatible. The installation requires a lot of care.

Of course, you can assume that motherboards based on the TRX40 chipset are quite expensive because they are crammed with high-end components and require serious power management circuitry. Most of these boards are also aimed at the workstation target group, where stability and reliability come first. It's a shame that, given AMD's success story so far, there is no backward compatibility, but that is the cost of progress. If you think you might be able to install a 64-core thread ripper CPU across the board, you might want to hold on – there are rumors that a separate, more powerful TRX80 chipset from the Epyc server ecosystem comes later for the chips to be started.

msi creator trx40 board ndtv threadripper

The MSI Creator TRX40 is full of functions, but not at the expense of user friendliness

MSI Creator TRX40 features and specifications

We received an MSI Creator TRX40 motherboard for our test, and it will be one of several models that will be available in India at launch. It comes in a strong white box; far from the bold graphics of most high-end gaming and avid motherboards. Don't be fooled though, it's still packed with features like 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6. three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots plus four more with a supplied riser card; one USB Type-C port 3.2 x 2 (20 Gbit / s) and six USB ports 3.2 (10 Gbit / s); and a sophisticated cooling system for the chipset and power regulators.

This is an E-ATX board, but the entire space is fully occupied. There are eight DDR4 DIMM slots next to the huge CPU socket and four full-size PCIe x16 slots (two of which are wired only for PCIe x8). The M.2 slots are not covered by other components and all have heat sinks and thermal pads on the bottom. MSI supports ECC memory and speeds of up to 4666 MHz, depending on the configuration of the modules used.

You also get the high-end codec Realtek ALC1220 for onboard audio, a second Gigabit Ethernet connection, Bluetooth 5, integrated power and reset buttons and of course support for numerous fans and liquid cooler pumps.

Although it's a motherboard for workstations, there are some RGB LEDs on the panel around the VRMs and the rear port cluster. If you are looking for player level bling you will not find it here. The PCIe and DIMM slots are all reinforced with dark gray metal. Overall, this board looks pretty insidious and serious, which we like.

Setup was fairly straightforward, and the only problem we faced was mounting our CPU cooler block so that there was enough room for the coolant hoses and power cables that needed to be connected. This required a bit of trial and error, but it's more because of the radiator mounting mechanism than anything else. However, the motherboard's Pump Fan header is a little too far from the CPU socket. A large air cooler like the Wraithripper may be more difficult to handle.

MSI's UEFI BIOS is easy to bypass and offers both simple and advanced modes. We liked the included USB stick with all necessary drivers and the actively cooled 4-way M.2 riser card. We also liked that the chipset fan shuts down completely when not in use. When it turns, it's practically inaudible.

msi creator trx40 panel ndtv threadripper

The highlight of the rear port cluster is a 20 Gbit / s USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X and Ryzen Threadripper 3960X performance

As usual, AMD sent us the brand new 3rd generation Ryzen Threadripper 3970X along with a full hardware kit for testing, including the MSI Creator TRX40 motherboard, a 64GB Quad Channel Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 3600 RAM kits. a 1 TB Corsair Force MP600 PCIe 4.0 SSD and an NZXT Kraken X62 280 mm all-in-one liquid cooler. All of these components were validated by AMD before being sent to us. We added our own Corsair RM650 power supply, the Sapphire Nitro + Radeon RX590 graphics card and the Asus PB287Q 4K monitor for testing.

All benchmarks were performed with a new installation of Windows 10 v1909 (the update from November 2019). Windows 10 v1903 (the update from May 2019) is the earliest version with which the topology of the new Threadripper CPU can be recognized and processes can be optimally planned. All available Windows patches and driver updates have been applied.

We have some numbers from our previous tests of the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, Ryzen 9 3900X and Intel Core i9-9900K for comparison, although they should only be used as a rough guide, as not all test conditions are identical. It would have been interesting to see how Intel's new Cascade Lake-X CPUs compare to the third generation Threadripper as they are in direct competition, but we don't have these numbers yet.

AMD Ryzen thread cutter 3970X AMD Ryzen thread cutter 3960X AMD Ryzen 2990WX thread puller AMD Ryzen 9
3900X
Intel Core i9-9900K
Cinebench R20 CPU single-threaded 515 504 N / A 495 N / A
Cinebench R20 CPU with multiple threads 17.069 13.265 N / A 6,785 N / A
POVRay * 18 seconds 23 seconds 23 seconds 41 seconds 57 seconds
VRAY CPU * 20 seconds 25 seconds 27 seconds 48 seconds 1 minute, 2 seconds
Corona Renderer Benchmark * 29 seconds 38 seconds 53 seconds 1 minute, 19 seconds 1 minute, 42 seconds
Mixer benchmark * 4 minutes, 24 seconds 5 minutes, 54 seconds 6 minutes, 13 seconds 10 minutes, 59 seconds 15 minutes, 21 seconds
Basemark Web 3.0 459.98 453.29 759.36 549.99 394.61
WebXprt 256 247 208 260 272
PCMark 10 6637 6,693 5,429 6597 4.957
PCMark 10 Extended 7681 7743 N / A 6807 3,435
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra (physics) 22.010 25437 18320 27,471 21550
SiSoft SANDRA CPU arithmetic 940.69GOPS 697GOPS 740,81GOPS 366GOPS 282.45GOPS
SiSoft SANDRA CPU Multimedia 3.31 GPix / s 2.4 GPix / s 1.64 GPix / s 1.26 GPix / s 918.22 MPix / s
SiSoft SANDRA CPU encryption 41.42 Gbps 41.3 Gbps 35.22 Gbps 18.09GBps 12.12 Gbps
SiSoft SANDRA cache bandwidth 1.73 TBps 1.43 TBps 832.48 Gbps 589.9 Gbps 307.32 Gbps
SiSoft SANDRA memory bandwidth 62 Gbps 63.52 Gbps 59.47 Gbps 26.62 Gbps 21.85 Gbps
7Zip file compression * 56 seconds 56 seconds 2 minutes, 25 seconds 1 minute, 33 seconds 2 minutes, 12 seconds
Handbrake video coding * 30 seconds 31 seconds 52 seconds 35 seconds 39 seconds
*less is better

We immediately notice some insights. We see tremendous advantages in creating real content such as video encoding, file compression and ray tracing. With the 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, 7zip managed to compress a 3.24 GB folder with various files in an incredible 56 seconds, and Handbrake flashed an H.265 MKV video transcode in just 30 seconds. POVRay only took 18 seconds to run its internal benchmark, and even the Blender benchmark took only 4 minutes and 24 seconds.

These are certainly the best times we've ever seen in our hands-on task tests. It is clear that a workstation PC with such a CPU can drastically change your workflow and life if you use ordinary desktop hardware. The initial cost would come well over Rs. 3,000,000 for just the core components, but being able to render 3D work or compile software so quickly could make it worthwhile for many people.

It was a real pleasure to watch applications like Cinebench R20 that used all 64 threads at the same time. Our liquid-cooled test bench was largely silent during these tests and only occasionally rose to a slight thrum.

The 24-core model was not too far behind and did not necessarily achieve proportionally lower values ​​in all tests. In some cases, it could be argued that the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X offers better value for money. In many cases, this CPU has matched or outperformed last year's 32-core Ryzen 2990WX threadripper, which means lower prices for end users.

AMD is promoting its thread ripper line for games for a reason. There are very few games, including the current ones, that can do a lot with four cores. It is unlikely that there will be more than eight cores in the foreseeable future because older hardware and consoles need to be supported. Still, the company points out that running games with high refresh rates and resolutions is CPU intensive and thread rippers are by no means bad for games.

Similarly, there is some overclocking reserve, according to AMD, but we don't think that casual overclockers should try to push these CPUs, at least not without a seriously powerful cooling system. The Ryzen Master utility lets you make fine-grained adjustments and show which cores can be lifted the most.

In addition to the mere benchmark numbers, AMD offers price-performance advantages and energy efficiency advantages over the Skylake-X refresh offers from Intel, in particular the 18-core core i9-9980XE, which is at almost the same price as the 32-core thread ripper Ryzen 3970X was launched. Intel sells a 28-core Xeon W-series CPU for enthusiasts, although it's hard to find and astronomically affordable in India, and AMD also claims an advantage over it. The company also puts its relatively higher TDP ratings in a context of "TDP per core", which of course looks much better. We'll see how these comparisons hold up when we can test a Cascade Lake-X CPU.

amd threadripper 3970x with ndtv threadripper

The performance is excellent, but you need an expensive motherboard, a RAM kit and an SSD

judgment

AMD positions the Ryzen Threadripper series as a solution for professionals who work with 3D rendering or CAD applications, extensive number processing, visualization of scientific data, software and game development, video and effects production and similar tasks Fields have to save time. It's hard to miss the value proposition, but the company needs to do a lot more to raise awareness of what's possible beyond standard desktop PCs, especially in India. The initial cost of a Ryzen Threadripper CPU and all the components needed to get it up and running will also keep many potential buyers from nicheing this product line, even if it is highly desirable.

One use case that is missing from AMD's publication and promotional materials, but is omnipresent in Intel’s current messaging is AI – this is the brand new topic that sweeps everyone away and accelerates big data, machine learning, and inference training are in Intel's strategy for the future. We can also expect the blue team to highlight overall performance rather than core values, which will lead to an interesting fight.

Then there's the recently announced 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X and the seemingly inevitable 48-core model in between. This announcement steals a bit of the thunder from the 32-core model on the day it officially goes on sale, but it will definitely cast a shadow over Intel's introduction of Cascade Lake-X. The prices for the 64-core model are not yet known. As a result, some people who see the value of current Intel or AMD deals may delay buying just to see how much better things can get. We have to wait at least a month or two before we see this chapter of the story unfold.

Finally, we liked the MSI Creator TRX40 and had no problems with it. It costs around Rs. 65,000 in retail, but offers solid build quality and ease of use, as well as the future-proof USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port and a host of other connectivity options.

Price:
AMD Ryzen 3970X Thread Puller: Rs. 1,40,990 + taxes
AMD Ryzen 3960X Thread Puller: Rs. 99,990 + taxes

benefits

  • Blistering multi-threaded workload performance
  • Relatively reasonable prices
  • A lot of PCIe 4.0 bandwidth

disadvantage

  • Requires strong cooling
  • Playing and easily tracked tasks are of little use

Reviews (of 5)

  • Performance: 4.5
  • Value for money: 5
  • Overall: 4.5

MSI Creator TRX40
Price (MOP): Rs. 65,000

benefits

  • Loads of connectivity, including 20 Gbps USB 3.2×2
  • Good looks and build quality
  • The layout is not too tight
  • PCIe M.2 riser card included

disadvantage

Reviews (of 5)

  • Features: 5
  • Performance: 4.5
  • Value for money: 3.5
  • Total: 4