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 2990WX||Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX||Ryzen Threadripper 2950X||Threadripper 2920X|
|Cores / Threads||32 / 64||24 / 48||16 / 32||12 / 24|
|Base Frequency||3.0 GHz||3.0 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|Boost Frequency||4.2 GHz||4.2 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.3 GHz|
|Memory Speed||DDR4-2933 (Varies)||DDR4-2933 (Varies)||DDR4-2933 (Varies)||DDR4-2933 (Varies)|
|PCIe Lanes||64 (Four to the chipset)||64 (Four to the chipset)||64 (Four to the chipset)||64 (Four to the chipset)|
|Cache (L2 / L3)||80MB||64MB||40MB||32MB|
|Process||12nm LP GloFo||12nm LP GloFo||12nm LP GloFo||12nm LP GloFo|
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 /Threads||Base / Boost (GHz)||L3 Cache (MB)||PCIe 3.0||DRAM||TDP||MSRP||Price Per Core|
|TR 2990WX||32 / 64||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1799||$56|
|TR 2970WX||24 / 48||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1299||$54|
|Core i9-7980XE||18 / 36||2.6 / 4.4||24.75||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1999||$111|
|TR 2950X||16 / 32||3.5 / 4.4||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||180W||$899||$56|
|TR 1950X||16 / 32||3.4 / 4.4||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2667||180W||$750||$47|
|Core i9-7960X||16 / 32||2.8 / 4.4||22||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1699||$106|
|TR 2920X||12 / 24||3.5 / 4.3||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||180W||$649||$54|
|TR 1920X||12 / 24||3.5 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2667||180W||$399||$33|
|Core i9-7920X||12 /24||2.9 / 4.4||16.50||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1199||$100|
|Core i9-7900X||10 / 20||3.3 / 4.3||13.75||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$999||$99|
|Core i7-8700K||6 / 12||3.7 / 4.7||12||16||Dual DDR4-2666||95W||$359||$60|
|Ryzen 7 2700X||8 / 16||3.7 / 4.3||16||16||Dual DDR4-2933||105W||$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 Config||Memory Ranks||Official Supported Transfer Rate (MT/s)|
|4 of 4||Single||DDR4-2933|
|4 of 8||DDR4-2667|
|8 of 8||DDR4-2133|
|4 of 4||Dual||DDR4-2933|
|4 of 8||DDR4-2667|
|8 of 8||DDR4-1866|
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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