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AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX Review: 24 Cores on a Budget

Our Verdict

Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX comes equipped with 24 cores and 48 threads. But there are caveats to consider. For instance, some applications fail to exploit the CPU's full complement of execution resources. As a result, the 2970X is only ideal for certain workloads. Be sure you need what it offers before sinking big bucks into the pricey X399 ecosystem.

For

  • Excellent multi-threaded performance in some apps
  • Unlocked multiplier for overclocking
  • Relatively low price per core' Indium solder between heat spreader and die

Against

  • Single-threaded performance leaves something to be desired
  • Expensive platform

The Value-Oriented WX-Series Option

AMD's second-gen Ryzen Threadripper family was introduced to the world in the form of a 32-core, 64-thread 2990WX model priced at $1800. It set new performance records across workloads able to exploit the chip's copious resources. However, the flagship Threadripper chip's unique architecture also causes odd results in more common desktop applications. Consequently, we only recommend the 2990WX to professionals running certain workstation-class software.

The $1300 Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX includes 24 cores and 48 threads. It bears the same WX suffix meant to signal an affinity for heavy multitasking and professional workloads. Moreover, the 2970WX boasts more on-die resources than Intel's $2000 Core i9-7980XE, which offers 18 Hyper-Threaded cores.

Similar to Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, two of the 2970WX's dies aren't connected directly to main memory. So, the CPU delivers great performance in threaded workloads that aren't sensitive to memory throughput, but less impressive results in bandwidth-hungry applications that don't scale well with extra cores. AMD introduced Dynamic mode to its Ryzen Master software in an effort to minimize the architecture's compromises, but it isn't always effective.

Given its similarities to the 2990WX, it's no surprise that Threadripper 2970WX demonstrates a lot of the same behaviors in our benchmark suite. You still need a particular type of workload to maximize its potential. Fortunately, if you have the right software, Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX offers a much less expensive route to 2990WX-like performance.

Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX

Earlier this year, AMD retooled its mainstream Ryzen line-up with new Zen+ optimizations that included 12nm manufacturing, improved memory and cache latency, higher clock rates, and enhanced multi-core Precision Boost frequencies. Those changes carry over to the company's newest Threadripper models, too.

AMD also split its Threadripper portfolio into the WX and X families. The two WX models are geared toward intense multitasking workloads, 3D rendering, media encoding, and cinema mastering. That makes them attractive to software developers, video/audio engineers, and content creators.

Ryzen Threadripper 2990WXRyzen Threadripper 2970WXRyzen Threadripper 2950XThreadripper 2920X
SocketTR4TR4TR4TR4
Cores / Threads32 / 6424 / 4816 / 3212 / 24
Base Frequency3.0 GHz3.0 GHz3.5 GHz3.5 GHz
Boost Frequency4.2 GHz4.2 GHz4.4 GHz4.3 GHz
Memory SpeedDDR4-2933 (Varies)DDR4-2933 (Varies)DDR4-2933 (Varies)DDR4-2933 (Varies)
Memory ControllerQuad-ChannelQuad-ChannelQuad-ChannelQuad-Channel
Unlocked MultiplierYesYesYesYes
PCIe Lanes64 (Four to the chipset)64 (Four to the chipset)64 (Four to the chipset)64 (Four to the chipset)
Integrated GraphicsNoNoNoNo
Cache (L2 / L3)80MB64MB40MB32MB
ArchitectureZen+Zen+Zen+Zen+
Process12nm LP GloFo12nm LP GloFo12nm LP GloFo12nm LP GloFo
TDP 250W250W180W180W

Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX is AMD's second quad-die processor for high-end desktops. Again, it sports 24 cores and 48 threads. A 3 GHz base frequency stretches as high as 4.2 GHz via AMD's XFR (eXtended Frequency Range) algorithms. The processor also features an improved Precision Boost 2 technology for achieving more aggressive multi-core turbo clock rates compared to the first-gen models.

Each of the WX CPU's four dies boast eight physical cores and 16MB of L3 cache. Thus, Threadripper 2990WX and 2970WX are both armed with 64MB of L3 cache. That's generous on AMD’s part, since Intel typically disables cache as it turns off cores to create lower-end models. Of course, AMD does carve out two cores per die to create the 2970WX's 24-core configuration, though. And like the 2990WX, Ryzen Threadripper 2970X is rated at 250W.

The dual-die X-series Threadrippers are better suited to enthusiasts and gamers. AMD launched its Ryzen Threadripper 2950X in September, but now there's a 12C/24T Threadripper 2920X available as well. It includes six cores per die and the same 32MB of L3 cache as the 16C/32T 2950X. Both X-series models are rated at 180W.

Cores /ThreadsBase / Boost (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PCIe 3.0DRAMTDPMSRPPrice Per Core
TR 2990WX32 / 643.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2933250W$1799$56
TR 2970WX24 / 483.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2933250W$1299$54
Core i9-7980XE18 / 362.6 / 4.424.7544Quad DDR4-2666140W$1999$111
TR 2950X16 / 323.5 / 4.43264 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2933180W$899$56
TR 1950X16 / 323.4 / 4.46464 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2667180W$750$47
Core i9-7960X16 / 322.8 / 4.42244Quad DDR4-2666140W$1699$106
TR 2920X12 / 243.5 / 4.33264 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2933180W$649$54
TR 1920X12 / 243.5 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH)Quad DDR4-2667180W$399$33
Core i9-7920X12 /242.9 / 4.416.5044Quad DDR4-2666140W$1199$100
Core i9-7900X10 / 203.3 / 4.313.7544Quad DDR4-2666140W$999$99
Core i7-8700K6 / 123.7 / 4.71216Dual DDR4-266695W$359$60
Ryzen 7 2700X8 / 163.7 / 4.31616Dual DDR4-2933105W$329$41

AMD ships all Threadripper CPUs with an Asetek bracket that provides partial coverage of the expansive heat spreader using compatible closed-loop liquid coolers. According to AMD, this partial coverage is fine for stock operation. But we found that full-coverage coolers work better. AMD also collaborated with Cooler Master to develop the Wraith Ripper heat sink/fan combo for its Socket TR4 interface. It's sold separately, though.

Of course, AMD uses Indium solder between its dies and heat spreader to improve thermal transfer. In contrast, Intel employs thermal grease and recommends liquid cooling for its Skylake-X processors. AMD says that's not necessary for Threadripper. Intel recently added Indium solder to its Core i9 series, so we may see this feature work its way up into the HEDT segment before long.

All of the second-gen Threadripper processors are backward-compatible with existing X399 motherboards. But older Socket TR4-equipped boards may struggle under the power requirements of AMD's 250W Threadripper WX series chips, particularly if you try to overclock. Consider shopping for a new X399-based platform if tuning is on the menu.

DIMM ConfigMemory RanksOfficial Supported Transfer Rate (MT/s)
4 of 4SingleDDR4-2933
4 of 8DDR4-2667
8 of 8DDR4-2133
4 of 4DualDDR4-2933
4 of 8DDR4-2667
8 of 8DDR4-1866

Familiar AMD value-adds abound on the 2970WX: you get an unlocked ratio multiplier for overclocking, the new Precision Boost Overdrive automated overclocking feature, Ryzen Master software, and 60 lanes of third-gen PCI Express (plus four lanes attached to the supporting chipset). Copious connectivity could come in handy for multiple add-in graphics cards, but it's also useful for high-performance storage and networking.

Threadripper CPUs feature independent dual-channel memory controllers located on two dies, which combine to provide quad-channel support with varying data transfer rates based upon your configuration. With the second-gen Threadripper processors, AMD bumps its maximum specification to DDR4-2933 (up from DDR4-2666). The platform supports ECC memory and up to 256GB of capacity, but it can accommodate up to 2TB as density increases.

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  • Peter Martin
    Threadripper and Cake or Death!
    I'll have the Threadripper please.
    Very well! Give him Threadripper!

    This would be ideal for me, but it is pricey for now.
    Reply
  • richardvday
    New = Pricey
    Always going to be that way
    Reply
  • Peter Martin
    yeah. i can wait... lol, still, I need one.
    Reply
  • 1_rick
    Basin Falls may be soldered, but considering that the solder in the 9000-series doesn't seem to do as much as people had hoped, we should be prepared for there not to be a lot of OC headroom.
    Reply
  • kinggremlin
    If you can't afford it, you don't need it. Anyone who can make actual use of this CPU is using it in a business which is generating the money necessary to pay for it.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    21441427 said:
    If you can't afford it, you don't need it. Anyone who can make actual use of this CPU is using it in a business which is generating the money necessary to pay for it.

    Exactly, if I were in a business to generate content I would take the 24 core TR4 CPU over the 18 core Intel equivalent for less money any day of the week. Not everything is made to play games on it.
    Reply
  • Peter Martin
    who are you to determine my needs?
    Reply
  • Dorian Kunch
    Why he is the internet IT god, bow to it it it it one one one one
    Give it the Threadripper.
    Give it!
    Reply
  • mellis
    Looks like the I9-9900K is the best bang for the buck.
    Reply
  • Peter Martin
    I would be able to make some money with that for sure. fine, now where is that business plan?
    Reply