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Ryzen Threadripper 2 (2990WX and 2950X) Review: AMD Unleashes 32 Cores

Editor's Choice

VRMark, 3DMark & AotS: Escalation

Test Notes

AMD designed Threadripper 2990WX for prosumer-class applications. Unlike the previous-gen Threadripper models, its WX-series models come with a Game Mode preset in the Ryzen Master software that disables three of the four available dies (1/4). AMD tells us this offers the best average performance in a wide range of titles. But the company also provides toggles that allow experimentation with two- and four-die configurations.

Unlike the first-gen Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, AMD aims its 2950X at enthusiasts and gamers. For this review, we tested Threadripper 2950X using AMD's Game Mode setting. But in our dedicated review of that chip, we'll go into more depth on the available combinations of settings and their impact on performance.

We tested across our gaming suite using a 1920x1080 resolution, minimizing graphics bottlenecks. Of course, as you step up to 2560x1440 or 3840x2160, the difference between processors shrinks. Just bear in mind that, beyond the average frame rates we report, Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and 2950X are also well-suited to gaming while multi-tasking and streaming due to their high core counts.

VRMark, 3DMark

We aren't big fans of using synthetic benchmarks to measure game performance, but 3DMark's DX11 and DX12 CPU tests provide useful insight into the amount of horsepower available to game engines.

Moreover, UL's VRMark test lets you gauge your system's suitability for use with the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, even if you don't currently own an HMD. UL defines a passing score as anything above 109 FPS.

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Tests that are sensitive to clock rate and IPC throughput, such as VRMark, were a challenge for AMD's first-gen Threadripper processors. But we saw a big improvement from Threadripper 2950X compared to the previous-gen 1950X, which was expected due to the more aggressive multi-core turbo bins.

The 2990WX's Game Mode reduces overall core count, but it also keeps bandwidth-starved cores from hurting performance. Nevertheless, Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX fell to the bottom of our chart due to lower per-core performance. Enabling PBO helped push it up to the middle of our test field.

3DMark typically scales well with higher core/thread counts. But the Threadripper processors, including the 32C/64T 2990WX, lagged Intel's line-up. The 2950X did enjoy a nice speed-up compared to AMD's older Threadripper 1950X. However, the 2990WX was hobbled by its Game Mode setting that turned it into an 8C/16C CPU. Both Threadripper 2 models realized solid gains from enabling Precision Boost Overdrive.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is a computationally intense title that scales well with thread count.

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Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX lagged the rest of our test pool at its stock settings, but matched an overclocked 1950X with PBO enabled.

Meanwhile, the 2950X scored another solid victory against AMD's previous-gen 1950X. But neither model comes close to matching Intel's highest-end processors.

This is one of the best examples of a game that scales well with host processing resources. However, the fact that Ryzen 7 2700X outperformed most of the test pool at a significantly lower price is telling. It's best to stick with mainstream desktop CPUs if gaming is your primary goal.

MORE: Best CPUs

MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

  • Rdslw
    first table is broken 32/64 cores/threads :)
    Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX
    Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
    Socket
    TR4
    TR4
    Cores / Threads
    16 / 32
    16 / 32
    Reply
  • bilazaurus
    AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2. Your first choice for encoding!*

    *And nothing else.
    Reply
  • philipemaciel
    Wow, while the 2990WX is a bit of a letdown, the 2950X is a nice surprise. Plenty of bang for your buck!
    Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER
    Avoid the flagship, buy the $900 part. Sounds a lot like Intel.
    Reply
  • alves.mvc
    Why does Tom's Hardware stopped using the HPC benchmark? It was the most interesting measurement for me that work daily with finite differences and finite elements. Can you return to that?
    Reply
  • totaldarknessincar
    Seems to me the best of both worlds continue to be Intel's 7900x which sells for $699 at microcenter. You get great gaming performance, and great multithreaded performance, and it's not 12-1800 bucks as some of these mega-threaded cards are.

    Despite all the fan-fare, it seems the 7980xe actually remains the best processor when overclocked overall.

    Lastly for gaming, it's still 8700K or 8086 as best, with the 2700x from AMD being the best when you factor gaming and some multi-threaded stuff, while being very competitive price wise.
    Reply
  • feelinfroggy777
    Very surprising performance from the 2950x. Almost enough to consider parting ways with my 1950x. Maybe when the pricing comes down some from the 2950x in a few months I will consider.

    The 2990wx on the other hand is a slight let down. Too bad they could not get the scaling down between the dies like they did with Threadripper 1. But I have read that was going to be an issue. Maybe AMD did not want the 2990wx to cannibalize their Epyc market.

    With that being said, the 2990wx is still a modern marvel of technology, even more so when you consider the price. Only couple of years ago a CPU with less than a third of the cores cost just as much.

    Competition sure is grand!
    Reply
  • basil.thomas
    Looks like Intel has an opportunity to bite AMD when they release their 28-core processor. I have a threadripper 2/x399 system but if I upgrade to the 2990wx, I will also upgrade the motherboard and the power supply as well. I think I may wait until the Intel 28 core comes out and see what kind of performance it delivers as I too notice running custom AI apps on the threadripper is barely faster than my old x99/6850 motherboard overclocked @ 4.3Ghz. I want max performance if I am going to pay over $1800 for the flagship which means core wars is just starting...

    MOD EDIT: watch your profanity
    Reply
  • ffleader1
    21228046 said:
    Seems to me the best of both worlds continue to be Intel's 7900x which sells for $699 at microcenter. You get great gaming performance, and great multithreaded performance, and it's not 12-1800 bucks as some of these mega-threaded cards are.

    Despite all the fan-fare, it seems the 7980xe actually remains the best processor when overclocked overall.

    Lastly for gaming, it's still 8700K or 8086 as best, with the 2700x from AMD being the best when you factor gaming and some multi-threaded stuff, while being very competitive price wise.
    Seem to me that you are mistaking best of both work with jack of all trade. No one who takes rendering seriously would want to sacrifice the performance for gaming. For that price, they may as well grab a 1950X. Sure you lose in gaming, but gain a huge jump in rendering. Also, I don't know about Microcenterbut it's still 1k on Amazon while 1950X is $850. 7900X is like a really really bad choice lol.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Wow, 32 cores for $1,000? I have to say very impressive. Your move, Intel!
    Reply