Overclocking: 4.0 GHz for 500W

Who said that a 250W processor should not be overclocked? AMD prides itself as being a processor manufacturer that offers every consumer processor as a multiplier unlocked part, as well as using a soldered thermal interface material to assist with thermal dissipation performance. This 2990WX has an X in the same, so let the overclocking begin!

Actually, confession time. We did not have much time to do overclocking by any stretch. This processor has a 3.0 GHz base frequency and a 4.2 GHz turbo frequency, and in an air-conditioned room using the 500W Enermax Liqtech cooler, when running all cores under POV-Ray, we observed each core running around 3150 MHz, which is barely above the turbo frequency. The first thing I did was set the all-core turbo to 4.2 GHz, the same as the single core turbo frequency. That was a bust.

However, the next stage of my overclocking escapades surprised me. I set the CPU to a 40x multiplier in the BIOS, for 4.0 GHz on all the cores, all the time. I did not adjust the voltage, it was kept at auto, and I was leaving the ASUS motherboard to figure it out. Lo and behold, it performed flawlessly through our testing suite at 4.0 GHz. I was shocked.

All I did for this overclock was turn a setting from ‘auto’ to ‘40’, and it breezed through almost every test I threw at it. I say almost every test – our Prime95 power testing failed. But our POV-Ray power testing, which draws more power, worked. Every benchmark in the suite worked. Thermals were high (in the 70s), but the cooler could take it, and with good reason too.

At full load in our POV-Ray test, the processor was listed as consuming 500W. The cooler is rated for 500W. At one point we saw 511W. This was split between 440W for the cores (or 13.8W per core) and 63W for the non-core (IF, IO, IMC) which equates to only 12.5% of the full power consumption. It answers the question from our Infinity Fabric power page - if you want the interconnect to be less of the overall power draw, overclock!

We also tried 4.1 GHz, and that seemed to work as well, although we did not get a full benchmark run out of it before having to pack the system up. As stated above, 4.2 GHz was a no-go, even when increasing the voltage. With tweaking (and the right cooling), it could be possible. For anyone wanting to push here, chilled water might be the way to go.

Performance at 4.0 GHz

So if the all-core frequency was 3125 MHz, an overclock to 4000 MHz all-core should give a 28% performance increase, right? Here are some of the key tests from our suite.

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.4 (copy)Blender 2.79b bmw27_cpu Benchmark (copy)POV-Ray 3.7.1 Benchmark (copy)WinRAR 5.60b3 (copy)PCMark10 Extended Score (copy)Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3, Complex Test (copy)

Overclocking the 2990WX is a mixed bag, because of how it does really well in some tests, and how it still sits behind the 2950X in others due to the bi-modal nature of the cores. In the tests were it already wins, it pushes out a lot more: Blender is up 19% in throughput, POV-Ray is up 19%, 3DPM is up 19%. The other tests, is catches back up to the 2950X (Photoscan), or still lags behind (app loading, WinRAR).

Overclocking is not the cure-all for the performance issues on the 2990WX, but it certainly does help.

Power Consumption, TDP, and Prime95 vs POV-Ray Thermal Comparisons and XFR2: Remember to Remove the CPU Cooler Plastic!


View All Comments

  • MrSpadge - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    I don't think AVX512 is going to matter much anytime soon. However, The 8 memory channels of EPYC could matter a lot for HPC. Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    You guys need a 4k or maybe even 5k workload for transcoding - it's thread limited at 1080p so it becomes IPC and turbo limited. With x265 you can load up multiple 1080p handbrake instances on these high core count processors and they don't break a sweat. Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    That should be *1080p spawns limited numbers of threads* Reply
  • T1beriu - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    >Europe is famed for its lack of air conditioning everywhere

    UK is a lot colder generally in the summer compared to the rest of Europe. I wouldn't generalize the lack of AC for the rest of Europe. AC is pretty common in my country.
  • jospoortvliet - Saturday, August 18, 2018 - link

    Missing everywhere here in Germany... though after this insanely hot summer i bet that that will begin to change... Reply
  • powerincarnate - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    I didn't see a lot of gaming benchmarks, which I guess I understand, since these are more workstation cpus. It would be good to have seen both though to get a better idea of the overall qualities of the cpu as a multipurpose care.

    It seems from tomshardware benches that 7980xe, especially when overclocked, is best overall. AMD 2990wx obviously winning on the pure multi-threaded workstation stuff as long as it is not memory intensive.

    It seems like the 2950x from both of these sites, is really the processor to get from the threadripper lineup.

    it seems when gaming is taken to account, the best of both worlds is the 7900x

    And for gaming, and when you factor price as well, the 8700k, 8086, and slightly behind, the 2700x are the cards to get.

    Overall.... I'm a little disappointed in this release. Was much more impressed with the 2700x. It's likely since we didn't really get a true change in the manufacturing process or design of the chip, that the limitations of the 2990wx will probably be ironed out with Zen2 (this is Zen+ after all).
  • bill.rookard - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    Looking at it myself, yeah - these really aren't gaming CPUs by any stretch of the imagination, thus the lack of gaming benchmarks is perfectly understandable to me. As for the results of the benchmark results? I'm thinking the 2950x is the sweet spot. Lower power, lower latency, more power for the cores vs interconnects, and a much higher clockspeed makes it IMHO the better choice unless you have those fringe workloads which requires a bunch-o-cores. Reply
  • shendxx - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    this guy come from Toms that said 7900x is best for both world, lol, when the graph from toms show clearly even on gaming, 2950x is equal on Minimum FPS with 8700k and only lose 3 to 10 FPS On Average, Reply
  • apoclypse - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    I don't know. Gaming performance is the least thing I care about with this chip but that seems be all most tech press cares about, especially tech tubers. These chips are not for gaming. If anything these chips should be compared to Intel's Xeon line as it seems that is actually where AMD is aiming these at since they don't have a dedicated SKU for workstation chips like Intel. These are only marketed as HEDT chips because it gives AMD positive press, but if anything the ones who should be paying attention should be OEM high end workstation builders. In that regard Threadripper is more than compelling. It's higher clocked than Intel's Xeon chips, has more cores for less money, and still has all the pro level features that is needed for workstation level work.

    I think AMD should lean into that a bit more in their marketing but that stuff isn't sexy and it doesn't grab attention like marketing it towards rich and stupid "gamers", and the technorati who eat that stuff up.

    This is a workstation chip period, and should be treated, tested and benchmarked as such, imo.
  • Icehawk - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    If only the tier 1 vendors would offer TR workstations... I really wanted to purchase a few for work to use as VM hosts but my only real option is Xeon currently. The 32 core monster would likely make for a great VM host for mid-weight usage. Reply

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