There are plenty of reasons not to buy AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX. Sure, 32 cores and 64 threads sound like a dream come true for prosumers and professionals. But the CPU comes with a list of caveats. You really need a high-end motherboard, a high-end power supply, and high-end cooling to extract maximum performance from your $2000 investment. Some threaded applications simply don't scale well across that many cores. When you factor in some of the odd performance results we've seen from other applications, it becomes necessary to exercise caution before taking the leap. Make sure your applications can properly utilize the 2990WX's available resources, and that you're willing to make some compromises elsewhere.
In contrast, Threadripper 2950X doesn't impose such stringent motherboard, power supply, and cooling requirements. It consumes a little more power than its predecessor at stock and overclocked settings, but the difference isn't large enough to affect previous-generation motherboards designed for overclocking. You certainly don't have to worry about pulling up to 500W through the socket under load like we saw from Threadripper 2990WX.
Considering the raw horsepower we're talking about, AMD's pricing is extremely competitive. Ryzen Threadripper 2950X kept pace with the $1700 Core i9-7960X in many of our tests, but sells for almost half of its price. Unfortunately, the X399 platform remains prohibitively expensive. And populating all four memory channels also gets expensive in light of today's egregious DRAM pricing.
AMD's Precision Boost Overdrive is the unsung hero of the second-gen Threadripper launch. Any enthusiast can attest to the benefits of overclocking, but tuning isn't for everyone. AMD's technology brings thought-free overclocking to the masses, and unlike some of the dynamic implementations we've seen on Intel motherboards, it doesn't pump in a ridiculous amount of voltage to the processor. The adaptive algorithms do a great job of responding to the capabilities of your specific system, meaning you can extract more value from beefier components.
While we still recommend the mainstream Ryzen 7 2700X or Core i7-8700K for gaming, they clearly can't keep pace with Threadripper in productivity-oriented applications. Intel's Skylake-X processors are still brutally fast, but you'll also pay a premium for the privilege of owning one. The Threadripper 2950X offers a lot more performance at a lower price than the first-gen Threadripper did at launch, but we wouldn't recommend a direct upgrade from the 1950X. If you're looking to upgrade from an older CPU to this well-balanced processor, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 2950X does not disappoint.
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