All AMD entries with "PBO" indicate an auto-overclocked configuration paired with with DDR4-3600. Intel's overclocked configurations also use DDR4-3600. Our Threadripper 2970WX sample doesn't respond well to AMD's auto-overclocking PBO feature, generating incessant BSOD's even after numerous hours of experimentation. That issue seems confined to that sample; our other Threadripper processors behave correctly with the feature enabled. As such, we can't provide benchmarks with an overclocked 2970WX, but the stock test results fall within our expectations.
We tested Far Cry 5 and Dawn of War in Game Mode with the 3970X and 3960X, but we tested the remainder of the games in the standard Creator Mode (all cores/threads active). We tested the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and 2770WX in game mode for all gaming tests.
We expect these benchmark deltas to shrink with higher resolutions that are more typical of the class of machines with these chips, but that is just due to a graphics-imposed bottleneck. As such, we stick to the standard FHD resolution for testing.
VRMark and 3DMark
Intel has two AMD competitors in these benchmarks: The Ryzen 9 3950X and Threadripper 2970WX, with the former delivering impressive gaming performance in games, while the latter clearly isn't as agile and has to run in game mode with a portion of its threaded horsepower left unused. This mode requires a reboot and has a varying impact on different games, so your mileage will vary. In either case, incessant reboots aren't a great selling point if you game frequently. AMD has largely addressed those concerns with third-gen Threadripper, but doesn't have a competing 3000-series chip in the -10980XE's price bracket.
The 3DMark DX12 and DX11 tests measure the amount of raw horsepower exposed by the processor to game engines, but most game engines don't scale as linearly with additional compute resources. These tests reward the -10980XE's overclocking prowess with large leads after tuning, but the Ryzen 9 3905X leads at stock settings. We can also see the impact of the -10980XE's heightened mid-range turbo boosts in the thread-friendly DX12 benchmark as it surpasses the -9980XE by a decent margin.
VRMark responds well to high per-core performance, so overclocking pushes the -10980XE to the top of the heap. The chip provides slightly more performance than its predecessor at stock settings, with the extra 300MHz of boost speed leading to a ~7fps advantage. Again, the 3950X outpaces the stock -10980XE.
Civilization VI AI and Stockfish
The Civilization VI AI test measures AI performance in a turn-based strategy game and is heavily influenced by high clock rates and instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput.
Here we see the 3950X edge out the -10980XE at stock settings, but in what will become a recurring theme in this set of benchmarks, Intel's flagship is impressive after overclocking. However, the 3950X isn't too shabby after overclocking, either. Intel's slim advantage after tuning comes at a $230 premium and requires a more robust cooling solution, so keep that in mind as you flip through the results. Meanwhile, the 2970WX isn't competitive, notching the lowest performance of the second-gen Threadripper lineup.
The open-source Stockfish AI chess engine is the polar opposite of the Civilization VI engine. This engine is designed specifically for many-core chips and scales well up to 512 cores, which is music to third-gen Threadripper's ears. Those models blast to the top of the charts, but aren't relevant in this price class. The 3950X is impressive at stock settings, and the -10980XE trails the -9980XE slightly, indicating that it isn't going to be a universal step forward. They also tie in the Civilization AI test. However, the -10980XE does expose some additional overclocking headroom that yields big gains.
AMD's explosive gen-on-gen Threadripper performance improvement, borne of a new architecture and manufacturing process, is impressive, but the 2970WX suffers at the hands of its distributed memory architecture.
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation responds well to extra cores and threads, which benefits the Ryzen lineup. Intel's -10980XE suffers from a erratic frame latency during our test, and we tested multiple times and reinstalled the game/drivers in an attempt to rectify the issue. However, the condition is repeatable and carries over to the overclocked configuration, too. As we can see, this results in a lower 99th percentile frame rate, but that same trend applies to the W-3175X and the -9980XE. We theorize this stems from Intel's mesh architecture, present only on Intel's HEDT and data center processors, which can negatively impact performance with unoptimized software. It's also possible the issue is exacerbated by an early firmware revision for the refreshed X299 platform, or a lack of driver/game engine tuning. We also notice the -10980XE trails the -9980XE in both stock and overclocked configurations.
Overclocking helps, but the -10980XE at 4.8 GHz trails the previous-gen -9980XE at 4.6 GHz. Threadripper 2970WX trails the pack again.
Civilization VI Graphics Test
The Civilization VI graphics test finds the stock Ryzen 9 3950X delivering excellent performance given its price point. That reminds us that these HEDT processors aren't the best fit for gamers – most enthusiasts are better served by mid-range and high-end mainstream chips.
Intel's overclocking advantage comes into play once again, with the Core i9-10980XE taking a convincing lead. The 2970WX simply isn't competitive here, even when we consider its slightly lower price point.
Dawn of War III
It isn't surprising to see the overclocked Intel HEDT chips take the top of the Dawn of War III chart due to their per-core performance advantage. Whatever issues plague the -10980XE in some titles aren't a factor here: Intel's new chip takes a big step forward over the -9980XE.
Again, AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X is impressive here, but the -9900K is faster at a much lower price point, but you'll lose out on performance in threaded applications.
Far Cry 5
Intel's -9900K leads the pack, and overclocking would open an even larger divide. The -10980XE is also particularly impressive after overclocking, but trails the 3950X at stock settings. After overclocking, the 2950X uncharacteristically experiences a big jump in performance with this title, but it largely profits from its overclocked memory.
Final Fantasy XV
We run this test with the standard quality preset to sidestep the impact of a bug that causes the game engine to render off-screen objects with the higher-resolution setting.
Intel's HEDT chips flex their gaming muscle when the game engine cooperates. Here the chips take the lead across the board at both stock and overclocked settings, pushing us close to a graphics-imposed bottleneck. The Core i9-10980XE also takes a decent step forward over the -9980XE at stock settings.
The Ryzen 9 3950X trails substantially, and the 2970WX continues to be a non-factor in the gaming conversation.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V continues to be popular six long years after its release. This title favors Intel architectures and, more generally, multi-core designs with high clock rates. Intel's chips lead across the board in this title, and we spot a few significant outliers from both Threadripper 3000's and the Intel -10980XE that manifested as hitching during the benchmark sequence.
The Ryzen 9 3950X trails the stock -10980XE by 2.7 fps. Tuning the 3950X essentially yields a tie, but turning the dial to 4.8GHz on the -10980XE propels it into rarefied air.
Once again, overclocking the -10980XE enables chart-topping performance and the chip also delivers a nice bump over its predecessor at stock settings. The 3950X isn't as impressive in this title, and engaging the auto-overclocking PBO feature doesn't deliver much extra performance.
Project Cars 2
Project Cars 2 is optimized for threading, but high clock rates pay off. As expected, that results in a win for Intel's overclocked processors. The stock -10890XE handily beats the 2970WX, but trails the 3950X.
The Core i9-9900K is also impressive, and overclocking it would hand it the unequivocal win in this title.
World of Tanks enCore
The power of Intel overclocking in gaming is apparent again as the -10980XE separates itself from the rest of the test pool.
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