Since the launch of AMD’s Threadripper Pro platform, the desire to see what eight channels of memory brings to compute over the regular quad-channel Threadripper has been an intriguing prospect. Threadripper Pro is effectively a faster version of AMD’s EPYC, limited for single CPU workstation use, but also heralds a full 280 W TDP to match the frequencies of the standard Threadripper line. There is a 37% price premium from Threadripper to Threadripper Pro, which allows for ECC memory support, double the PCIe lanes, and double the memory bandwidth. In this review, we’re comparing every member of both platforms that is commercially available.

Threadripper Pro: Born of Need

When AMD embarked upon its journey with the new Ryzen portfolio, the delineation of where each product sat in the traditional market has not always been entirely clear. The first generation Ryzen was earmarked for standard consumers, however the top of the line Ryzen 7 1800X, with eight cores, competed against Intel’s high-end desktop market. The Zen 2-based portfolio saw the mainstream Ryzen go to 16 cores, pushing past Intel’s best 18-core HEDT processor at the time in most tests. That Zen 2-based Ryzen 9 3950X was still classified as a ‘mainstream platform’ processor, as it only had 24 PCIe lanes and dual-channel memory, sufficient for mainstream users but not enough for workstation markets. These mainstream processors were also limited to 105W TDP.

At the other end of the scale was AMD EPYC, with the first generation EPYC 7601 having 32 cores, and the second generation EPYC 7742 having 64 cores, up to 225W TDP. These share the same LGA4094 socket, have eight channels of memory, full ECC support, and 128 PCIe lanes (first PCIe 3.0, then PCIe 4.0), with dual-socket support. For workstation users interested in EPYC, AMD launched single socket ‘P’ versions. These offered the same features, at around 200 TDP, losing some performance to the regular non-P versions.

AMD then launched Threadripper, a high-end desktop version of EPYC that went all the way up to 280 W for peak frequency and performance. Threadripper sat above Ryzen with 64 PCIe lanes and quad channel memory, enabling mainstream users that wanted a bit more to get a bit more. However workstation users noted that while 280 W was great, it lacked official ECC memory support, and compared to EPYC, sometimes the reduced memory channel support and reduced PCIe compared to EPYC stopped Threadripper being adopted.

So enter Threadripper Pro, which sits between Threadripper and EPYC, and in this instance, very much more on the EPYC side. Threadripper Pro has almost all the features of AMD’s EPYC platform, but in a 280W thermal envelope. It has eight channels of memory support, all 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes, and can support ECC. The only downside to EPYC is that it can only be used in single socket systems, and the peak memory support is halved (from 4 TB to 2 TB). Threadripper Pro also comes at a small price premium as well.

AMD Comparison
AnandTech Ryzen Threadripper Threadripper
Pro
Enterprise
EPYC
Cores 6-16 32-64 12-64 16-64
Architecture Zen 3 Zen 2 Zen 2 Zen 3
1P Flagship R9
5950X
TR
3990X
TR Pro 3995WX EPYC
7713P
MSRP $799 $3990 $5490 $5010
TDP 105 W 280 W 280 W 225 W
Base Freq 3400 MHz 2900 MHz 2700 MHz 2000 MHz
Turbo Freq 4900 MHz 4300 MHz 4200 MHz 3675 MHz
Socket AM4 sTRX40 sTRX4: WRX80 SP3
L3 Cache 64 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
DRAM 2 x DDR4-3200 4 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200
DRAM Capacity 128 GB 256 GB 2 TB, ECC 4 TB, ECC
PCIe 4.0 x20 +
chipset
4.0 x56 + chipset 4.0 x120 + chipset 4.0 x128
Pro Features No No Yes Yes

One of the biggest pulls for Threadripper and Threadripper Pro has been any market that typically uses high-speed workstations and can scale their workloads. Speaking to a local OEM, the demand for Threadripper and Threadripper Pro from the visual effects industry has been off the charts, where these companies are ripping out their old infrastructure and replacing anew with AMD. This has also been spurned by the recent pandemic, where these studios want to keep the expensive hardware onsite and allow their artists to work from home via remote access.

Threadripper Pro CPUs: Four Models, Three at Retail

When TR Pro launched in 2020, the processors were a Lenovo exclusive for the P620 workstation. The deal between Lenovo and AMD was not disclosed, however it would appear that the exclusivity deal ran for six months, from September to February, with the processors being made retail available on March 2nd.

During that time, we were sampled one of these workstations for review, and it still remains one of the best modular systems I’ve ever tested:

Lenovo ThinkStation P620 Review: A Vehicle for Threadripper Pro

AMD’s first Threadripper Pro platform has four processors in it, ranging from 12 cores to 64 cores, mimicking their equivalents in Threadripper 3000 and EPYC 77x2 but at 280W.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro
AnandTech Cores Base
Freq
Turbo
Freq
Chiplets L3
Cache
TDP Price
SEP
3995WX 64 / 128 2700 4200 8 + 1 256 MB 280 W $5490
3975WX 32 / 64 3500 4200 4 + 1 128 MB 280 W $2750
3955WX 16 / 32 3900 4300 2 + 1 64 MB 280 W $1150
3945WX 12 / 24 4000 4300 2 + 1 64 MB 280 W OEM

Sitting at the top is the 64-core Threadripper Pro 3995WX, with a 2.7 GHz base frequency and a 4.2 GHz turbo frequency. This processor is the only one in the family to have all 256 MB of L3 cache, as it has all eight chiplets fully active. The $5490 price is a full 37.5% increase over the Threadripper 3990X at $3990.

AMD 64-Core Zen 2 Comparison
AnandTech Threadripper
3990X
Threadripper
Pro 3995WX
EPYC
7702P
MSRP $3990 $5490 $4425
TDP 280 W 280 W 200 W
Base Freq 2900 MHz 2700 MHz 2000 MHz
Turbo Freq 4300 MHz 4200 MHz 3350 MHz
L3 Cache 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
DRAM 4 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200
DRAM Capacity 256 GB 2 TB, ECC 4 TB, ECC
PCIe 4.0 x56 + chipset 4.0 x120 + chipset 4.0 x128
Pro Features No Yes Yes

Middle of the line is the 32-core Threadripper Pro 3975WX, with a 3.5 GHz base frequency and a 4.2 GHz turbo frequency. AMD decided to make this processor use four chiplets with all eight cores on each chiplet, leading to 128 MB of L3 cache total. At $2750, it is also 37.5% more expensive than the equivalent 32-core Threadripper 3970X.

AMD 32-Core Zen 2 Comparison
AnandTech Threadripper
3970X
Threadripper
Pro 3975WX
EPYC
7501P
MSRP $3990 $2750 $2300
TDP 280 W 280 W 180 W
Base Freq 3700 MHz 3500 MHz 2500 MHz
Turbo Freq 4500 MHz 4200 MHz 3350 MHz
L3 Cache 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
DRAM 4 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200
DRAM Capacity 256 GB 2 TB, ECC 4 TB, ECC
PCIe 4.0 x56 + chipset 4.0 x120 + chipset 4.0 x128
Pro Features No Yes Yes

The following two processors have no Threadripper equivalents, but also represent a slightly different scenario that we’ll explore in this review. Both the 3955WX and 3945WX, despite being part of the big Threadripper Pro family, only use two chiplets in their design: 8 core per chipet for the 3955 WX and 6 core per chiplet for the 3945WX. This means these processors only have 64 MB of L3 cache, making them somewhat identical to the Ryzen 9 3950X and Ryzen 9 3900X, except the IO die means there is eight channels of memory and 128 PCIe lanes here.

AMD 16-Core Zen 2/3 Comparison
AnandTech Ryzen 9
3950X
Threadripper
Pro 3955WX
Ryzen 9
5950X
MSRP $749 $1150 $799
TDP 105 W 280 W 105 W
Base Freq 3500 MHz 3900 MHz 3400 MHz
Turbo Freq 4700 MHz 4300 MHz 4900 MHz
L3 Cache 64 MB 64 MB 64 MB
DRAM 2 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200 2 x DDR4-3200
DRAM Capacity 128 GB 2 TB, ECC 128 GB
PCIe 4.0 x20
+ chipset
4.0 x120
+ chipset
4.0 x20
+ chipset
Pro Features No Yes No
Motherboard Cost -- +++ --

The 3955WX has a higher base frequency, but the 3950X has the higher turbo frequency. The 3950X is also cheaper, and motherboards are cheaper! It might be worth partitioning these out into a separate comparison review.

The final Threadripper Pro processor, the 3945WX, does not have a price, because AMD is not making it available at retail. This part is for selected OEM customers only it seems; perhaps the limited substrate resources in the market right now makes it unappealing to make too many of these? Hard to say.

Motherboards: Beware!

Despite being based on the same LGA4094 socket as both Threadripper and EPYC, Threadripper Pro has its own unique WRX80 platform that has to be used instead. Only select vendors seem to have access/licenses to make WRX80 motherboards, and your main options are:

All three boards use a transposed LGA4094 socket, eight DDR4 memory slots, and 6-7 PCIe 4.0 slots.

Though beware! There is an option of finding an old/refurbished Lenovo P620 motherboard. It is worth noting that Lenovo is exercising an AMD feature for OEMs: processors used in that Lenovo motherboard will be locked to Lenovo forever. This is part of AMD’s guaranteed supply chain process, allowing OEMs to hard lock processors into certain vendors for supply chain end-to-end security that is requested by specific customers. In that instance, if you might ever want to break down your system to upgrade and sell off parts, it is not recommended you find a Lenovo TR Pro system unless you buy/sell it as a whole.

This Review

The main goal of this review is to test all of the Threadripper Pro 3000 hardware and compare against the equivalent Threadripper 3000 to get a sense of how much performance is gained by the increased memory bandwidth, or lost due to the slight core frequency differences. We are also including Intel’s best HEDT/workstation processor for comparison, the W-3175X, as well as the top consumer-grade processors on the market. All systems are tested at JEDEC specifications.

Test Setup
AMD
TR Pro
3995WX
3975WX
3955WX
ASUS Pro WS
WRX80E-SAGE
SE WiFi
BIOS
0405
IceGiant
Thermosiphon
Kingston
8x16 GB
DDR4-3200 ECC
AMD
TR
TR 3990X
TR 3970X
TR 3960X
ASRock
TRX40
Taichi
BIOS
P1.70
IceGiant
Thermosiphon
ADATA
4x32 GB
DDR4-3200
AMD
Ryzen
R9 5950X GIGABYTE
X570 I Aorus
Pro
BIOS
F31L
Noctua
NH-U12S
ADATA
4x32 GB
DDR4-3200
Intel
Core
i9-11900K ASUS
Maximus
XIII Hero
BIOS
0703
Thermalright
TRUE
Copper*
ADATA
4x32 GB
DDR4-3200
Intel
Xeon
Xeon W-3175X ASUS ROG
Dominus
Extreme
BIOS 0601 Asetek
690LX-PN
DDR4-2666
ECC
GPU Sapphire RX 460 2GB (CPU Tests)
PSU Various (inc. Corsair AX860i)
SSD Crucial MX500 2TB
*Silverstone SST-FHP141-VF 173 CFM fans also used. Nice and loud.

Many thanks to Kingston for supplying a full set of KSM32RD8/16MEI - 16x16 GB of DDR4-3200 ECC RDIMMs for enterprise testing in systems like Threadripper Pro.

As part of this review, we are also showcasing the 64 core processors in 128T mode as well as 64T mode. This is being done to showcase how some processors can get better performance by having better memory bandwidth per thread - one of the issues with these high core count processors is the limited amount of memory bandwidth each thread can access. Also, some operating systems (such as Windows) struggle above 64 threads due to the use of thread groups.

Power Consumption
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  • Thanny - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    Your Blender results for the 3960X are off by a lot. I rendered the same scene with mine in 173 seconds. That's with PBO enabled, so it'll be a bit faster than stock, but not 20% faster.

    My guess is that you didn't warm Blender up properly first. When starting a render for the first time, it has to do some setup work, which is timed with the rest of the render, but only needs to be done once.

    I'd expect a stock 3960X to be in the neighborhood of 180 seconds.
    Reply
  • 29a - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    "Firstly, because we need an AI benchmark, and a bad one is still better than not having one at all."

    I 100% disagree with this statement. Bad data is worse than no data at all.
    Reply
  • arashi - Saturday, July 17, 2021 - link

    But but but what about the few (<10) clicks they'd lose for not having lousy CPU based AI benchmarks! Reply
  • willis936 - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    Availability of entry level ECC CPUs (AMD pro and Intel Xeon E-2200/W) is really low. It's unfortunate. People don't have the cash for $10k systems right now but the need for ECC has only gone up. I hope for more editorials calling for mainstream ECC. Reply
  • Threska - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    Linus is mainstream enough.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/01/linus-torv...
    Reply
  • Mikewind Dale - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    At least mainstream desktop Ryzens tend to support ECC, even if not officially validated.

    What frustrates me is that laptop Ryzens don't support ECC at all - not even the Ryzen Pros.

    Every Ryzen Pro laptop I've seen lacks ECC support, and some of them even have non-ECC memory soldered to the motherboard.

    If you want an ECC laptop, it appears you have literally no choice at all but a Xeon laptop for $5,000.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, July 16, 2021 - link

    > laptop Ryzens don't support ECC at all - not even the Ryzen Pros.

    It probably depends on the laptop. If its motherboard doesn't have the extra traces for the ECC bits, then of course it won't.
    Reply
  • Mikewind Dale - Saturday, July 17, 2021 - link

    It depends on the laptop, yes. But I haven't found a single Ryzen Pro laptop from a single company that supports ECC.

    AMD's website ("Where to Buy AMD Ryzen™ PRO Powered Laptops") lists HP ProBook, HP EliteBook, and Lenovo Thinkpad. But none of them support ECC.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, July 17, 2021 - link

    > I haven't found a single Ryzen Pro laptop from a single company that supports ECC.

    Thanks for the datapoint. Maybe someone will buck the trend, but it's also possible they judged the laptop users who really care about ECC would also prefer a dGPU and therefore won't be using APUs.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, July 16, 2021 - link

    > I hope for more editorials calling for mainstream ECC.

    You'll probably just get inferior in-band ECC.
    Reply

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