AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X Review

AMD’s Threadripper 2990WX and 2970WX were, thankfully for Intel, rather niche, thanks to several issues at launch hindering performance. Various tweaks led to improvements over the months, but they still lack grunt in many tasks outside of workstation-class applications, in part due to the way they’re configured.

With 3rd-gen Threadripper, though, AMD has connected all the Core Chiplet Dies, which amount to 32 cores and 64 threads, to an I/O die, giving each die access to the memory controllers and PCI-E bus. This setup should massively improve performance, especially in games and lightlythreaded tasks that benefit from lower latencies, plus you have the improvements of the 7nm Zen 2 architecture as well.

The peak boost frequency has risen from 4.2GHz to 4.5GHz for the Threadripper 3970X compared to the Threadripper 2990WX, and the L3 cache has doubled to 128MB too. Meanwhile, an improved memory controller means the Threadripper 3970X supports similarly fast memory to its mainstream Ryzen siblings too.


Performance isn’t far short of the Ryzen 9 3950X in our image editing test, despite the lower boost frequency, and much faster than the Core i9-10980XE in this test too. What’s more, even though Handbrake scales poorly above ten cores, this test still revealed a stark difference between this CPU and its predecessor, with the 3790X nearly doubling the performance. Cinebench is where the 3970X really shines through.  It produced twice the score of the Core i9-10980XE and it was 8000 points ahead of the Ryzen 9 3950X, with by far the best result in Blender too.

We saw some slow frame rates occasionally in FarCry5,  which according to AMD is a game that still struggles with high core counts. Other games we tried were fine,though, and switching to Game Mode in Ryzen Master solved this problem too, butthe Threadripper 3960X performs more consistently here. The minimum of 90fps in Far Cry 5 using Game Mode was similar to the Ryzen 9 3950X’s result.

We also managed to overclock the 3970X to 4.2G Hz using a 1.3V vcore, which is 150MHz lower than we managed with the Threadripper 3960X, and 300M Hz lower than the stock speed peak boost. Overclocking improved mosttest results, but power consumption rocketed from 451Wto 615W. Amazingly, though, this was similar to the 18-core Intel CPU and over 200W lower than its predecessor. This CPU does get hot, though, especially when overclocked.

Thanks to the Zen 2 architecture, a 7nm manufacturing process and high boost frequencies, the Threadripper 3970X is far more capable in games and lightly-threaded tasks than its predecessors, while delivering monumental multi-threaded performance and excellent efficiency.

You won’t see scaling in all software,though, which means you’ll have to carefully weigh up your options. The Threadripper 3960X offers far better value too, with similar performance in many tests, higher overclocking headroom, and excellent multi-threaded performance. For a $600 saving, it’s a better option unless money is no object. If time is money, though, and you need to tear through those rendering tasks as fast as possible,the extra cash will be well spent and, unlike the Threadripper 2990WX, the Threadripper 3970X is adept in everyday tasks and gaming too.

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