High-End Desktop? What’s That?

The Ryzen 9 3950X Comes Into View

As teased at E3 and seemingly every show that AMD has been to since, we’re now ready to get our hands on AMD’s top-tier consumer-grade processor. The Ryzen 9 3950X is the bigger cousin to the Ryzen 9 3900X, this time using two 8-core chiplets built on TSMC’s 7nm process with the Zen 2 microarchitecture. This is paired with the same I/O die, and overall this Ryzen 9 3950X will offer four more cores and +100 MHz on the turbo frequency over the 3900X, all at a $749 recommended retail price point.

AMD 'Matisse' Ryzen 3000 Series CPUs
AnandTech Cores
TDP Price
Ryzen 9 3950X 16C 32T 3.5 4.7 8 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $749
Ryzen 9 3900X 12C 24T 3.8 4.6 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $499
Ryzen 9 3900 12C 24T 3.1 4.3 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 65W OEM
Ryzen 7 3800X 8C 16T 3.9 4.5 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 105W $399
Ryzen 7 3700X 8C 16T 3.6 4.4 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $329
Ryzen 5 3600X 6C 12T 3.8 4.4 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 95W $249
Ryzen 5 3600 6C 12T 3.6 4.2 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $199
Ryzen 5 3500X 6C 6T 3.6 4.1 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W OEM

The Ryzen 9 3950X will be compatible in the majority of AM4 motherboards, although in order to take advantage of the 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes on the CPU, an X570 motherboard is recommended. The 16 cores offer a 3.5 GHz base frequency and a 4.7 GHz single core boost frequency; the overall all-core turbo frequency will be dependent on the motherboard used, the quality of the silicon, and the turbo in play.

The 105W TDP matches that of the 12-core part, and it should be noted that the 3950X will not come with an in-the-box cooler. Instead, AMD argues that customers looking at this price range of CPU typically go out and purchase their own, something better than the 125 W Wraith Prism that AMD might have put in the box. To that end AMD is going to publish a list of recommended cooling solutions that are pre-validated by AMD on the website, which should be live on today (the 7th).

Regarding BIOS and AGESA versions on motherboards: AMD has stated that AGESA (also known as Patch B) is going to be required in order to enable full performance on the Ryzen 9 3950X. AMD stated that this AGESA version actually unites several different groups of Ryzen CPUs under the same numbering scheme, to make it easier to manage. It is worth noting that when quizzed, AMD acknowledged that some motherboard manufacturers were putting out ‘beta’ versions of, rather than the full release, and they recommend that users should wait for a full version for their motherboard (even though some motherboard manufacturers aren’t exactly being clear).

In terms of performance, AMD claims a +22% single thread performance jump for the 3950X over the 2700X, in 1080p gaming the company claims it goes toe-to-toe against the Core i9-9900K and trounces the Core i9-9920X (a $1200 CPU), and in content creation it surpasses both the 9900K and 9920X by 18-79% in selected tests. The company also states that a 16-core 3950X uses less wall power than an 8-core 9900K system.

Unlocked CPU Pricing
and Select Others
(MSRP Pricing)
Cores AnandTech Cores Intel*
(OEM Pricing)
    $900-$999 18/36 Core i9-10980XE ($979)
Ryzen 9 3950X ($749) 16/32 $700-$799 14/28 Core i9-10940X ($784)
    $600-$699 12/24 Core i9-10920X ($689)
    $500-$599 10/20
Core i9-10900X ($590)
Core i9-9900KS ($513)
Ryzen 9 3900X ($499) 12/24 $400-$499 8/16 Core i9-9900K/F ($488)
Ryzen 7 3800X ($399) 8/16 $350-$399 8/8 Core i7-9700K/F ($374)
Ryzen 7 3700X ($329) 8/16 $300-$349    
    $250-$299 6/6 Core i5-9600K ($262)
Ryzen 5 3600X ($249) 6/12 $200-$249    
Ryzen 5 3600 ($199) 6/12 Below $200 4/4 Core i3-9350K ($173)
*Intel quotes OEM/tray pricing. Retail pricing will sometimes be $20-$50 higher.

With Intel cutting its upcoming Cascade Lake-X HEDT processor line in half (and conveniently not releasing a 16-core part), the field does get a little more competitive for anyone looking at building a holiday system. What is important to note here is that AMD is shifting the line between consumer and high-end desktop higher: users spending $749 on a CPU get a ton of cores, but if they need more PCIe lanes, they have to go even higher to get the latest and greatest (see 3rd Gen Threadripper below). On a different note, AMD did state that Intel’s recent price adjustments had no effect on its product plans.

One side announcement from AMD, regarding all of the Ryzen 3000 hardware, is that every CPU now supports a cTDP down mode through the Ryzen Master software. With the tool, users can select the next power range down from the TDP of the processor. This means that 95W/105W CPUs can be set to run at 65W, then the 65W CPUs can be set to run at 45W, and the 45W CPUs can run at 35W.

AMD is doing this because they have seen a number of customers request high-core count processors at lower TDP values. Rather than releasing a wide array of X and non-X parts to satisfy all different areas of the market, AMD is offering this ‘cTDP down-like’ option for system builders that do want to focus on something like a 65W 16-core processor for their system. This isn’t to say that AMD will not release non-X CPUs in the future (they’re typically cheaper than the X CPUs), but rather than have customers wait for those parts to enter the market, AMD is giving this option to speed up adoption.

AMD 2019 Fall Update 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadripper, Up to 32 Cores


View All Comments

  • Valantar - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Last I checked $2000 CPUs generally weren't for "casual everyday programs". Not really $750 ones either.

    Performance hungry productivity applications can on the other hand make use of 16 quite commonly, though 32 is still a stretch. Then again there's some value to a workstation that's fully usable even when running a compile, render, or other multi-hour heavy workload.
  • evernessince - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    People were saying the same thing 3 years ago about the 8 core Zen 1 CPUs and yet here we are, a majority of new games coming out utilizing 8 cores. Give it another 3 years, I wouldn't be surprised to see if that doubles again. Reply
  • Oliseo - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Enough with the hyperbole already. Games will NOT be using 16 cores in another 3 years.

    I know it suits your argument an all, but get real.
  • Spunjji - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Agreed. What's more likely is that we'll see games / engines that depend on 4+ cores becoming commonplace, with maybe an outlier or two that can squeeze marginal gains from 8+. Reply
  • Targon - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    With the Ryzen 7 release in 2017, and then the release of the i9-9900k, no one questions that we are now in the era where games and programs should at least be able to scale with 8 core/16 threads. Now, once you actually have a properly multi-threaded design, it becomes simple to just use a design to use more and more threads, and if you have fewer cores, no problem because the scheduler will just assign the threads to CPU cores.

    You don't really target a given number of cores, you either go for a multi-threaded design, or you don't. Allow those who have a higher end processor get the advantage of more cores/threads, it doesn't HURT those with lower tier chips.
  • jaju123 - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Absolute dominance, I love it. Crazy that I can use my 3700x now (which is already incredibly fast) and buy a used 3950x in a couple of years for an upgrade with double the cores (or just get a zen 3 chip). Reply
  • yeeeeman - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Well, AMD is trying the Intel seat and it likes it. We can see that the 32 core part is now more expensive than the previous gen 32 core part, 2000$ vs 1800$. Reply
  • Irata - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    While this is more than many had expected, the only Intel CPU / platform that comes remotely close to the TR3 platform is the 28C Xeon W-3175X, which costs $ 3,000 and requires a separate very expensive mainboard. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    It also brings gen 4 PCIe, which aint cheap. Reply
  • Kjella - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    The 32 core TR2 had a very awkward memory architecture where not all the CPUs had direct access to memory and on many workloads it performed no better than a 16 core. If you wanted a "normal" 32 core CPU you'd have to buy EPYC server chips which cost a lot more for much lower speeds. So while you can't read it out of that spec sheet the TR3 is actually a much more capable product. Reply

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