AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review

Enthusiast desktop processor released in 2019 with 16 cores and 32 threads. With base clock at 3.5GHz, max speed at 4.7GHz, and a 105W power rating. Ryzen 9 3950X is based on the Matisse 7nm family and part of the Ryzen 9 series.
Price 71.5%
Speed 90%
Productivity 105%
Gaming 95%
Category Desktop
Target enthusiast
Socket Compatibility AM4
Integrated Graphics None
Cooler Included No
Overclock Potential 1 %
Year 2019 Model
Price 710 USD
Number of Cores 16 Cores
Number of Threads 32 Threads
Core Frequency 3.5 GHz
Boost Frequency 4.7 GHz
Max Stable Overclock 4.7 GHz
Power Consumption 105 W
Manufacturing Process 7 nm
L3 Cache 64 MB
Maximum Supported Memory 128 GB
Price-Value Score 71.5 %
Speed Score 90 %
Productivity Score 105 %
Gaming Score 95 %
Max 1080p Bottleneck 12 %
Max 1440p Bottleneck 6 %
Max 4K Bottleneck 3 %
Overall Score 59/100

The Ryzen 9 3950X is one of AMD's enthusiast Desktop processors. It was released in 2019 with 16 cores and 32 threads. With base clock at 3.5GHz, max speed at 4.7GHz, and a 105W power rating. The Ryzen 9 3950X is based on the Matisse 7nm family and is part of the Ryzen 9 series.

Ryzen 9 3950X is also the successor of AMD's last gen Ryzen 7 2700X processor that was based on the Zen+ and 12nm process and was released in 2018.

This processor packs 16-cores and 32-threads in a mainstream package for the first time, and does it at a similar price point as the Core i9-9900KS, a processor with just 8-cores and 16-threads.

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X marks yet another blast from Team AMD, ramping up the intensity of the AMD vs Intel processor war. Still, though, there’s more than just core counts when it comes to a mainstream processor, as single-core performance needs to be on point, especially if you’re hoping to play the best PC games.

Now, we're asking ourselves whether or not the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X finally dethrones the Core i9-9900KS as the de facto ruler of the mainstream processors. Ultimately, it depends: the Ryzen 9 3950X doesn't reach the same single-core performance as Intel, but we're starting to see more games adopt multi-threaded CPUs, so that doesn't matter as much.

AMD Ryzen 9 3rd Generation, and the Zen 2 architecture itself, is notable because it leads 7nm processors to the mainstream for the first time. But, there’s a lot more going on under the hood than just a smaller manufacturing node.

Increased IPC improvements, along with the massive turbo boost of 4.7GHz mean that even in single core performance – long a weak link of AMD’s processors – comes within reaching distance of rival chips.

One thing that the switch to 7nm silicon has allowed for however, is an increase in cache size. AMD is now describing its L3 and L2 cache in a combined spec of 16 x 512 kB and 64. But, because the 7nm CPU cores are contained within their own chiplets, AMD was able to pack much more in – with a whopping 16 x 512 kB and 64. This is a really big deal, as it allows for much faster performance, especially when you’re shooting for high framerates in 1080p games, and will be especially effective in old esports titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

Finally, the shrink down to 7nm allows for much better energy efficiency. Because of the Zen 2 architecture, AMD Ryzen 9 3 Generation processors like the Ryzen 9 3950X and Ryzen 9 3900 should be up to 58% more efficient than comparable Intel processors. This isn’t the most noteworthy feature here, but, hey, it should translate to lower electricity bills, and in today’s economy every little bit helps, right?

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is an absolute behemoth of a processor, as it absolutely should be with its 16 cores, 32 threads and high price tag. If you’re looking for the absolute best processor money can buy on a mainstream processor, then look no further. Whether you’re playing PC games or even doing hardcore video and 3D work, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X can handle them with ease.

However, you should be aware that there are some workloads where the Core i9-9900KS will still perform a little better. Old games that are completely single threaded, like World of Warcraft, will still run better on an Intel processor – but that gap is definitely starting to narrow.

Over the last couple years, AMD has been reaching for dominance in the desktop CPU world, and with the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, it's finally there.

AMD's Zen 2 series has landed, upping the ante with Intel in its high-stakes game for desktop PC market dominance with a well-rounded lineup of new chips that push mainstream platforms to higher core counts and more raw compute than we've ever seen. As a result, Intel's commanding presence in the enthusiast space is threatened in a way we haven't seen in over a decade.

That something is the Ryzen 9 3950X. AMD cranks the TDP dial up to 105W on this 16-core 32-thread chip, making it the high-performance counterpart to the 65W Ryzen 9 3900, which is basically the same 7nm chip built with the Zen 2 microarchitecture, but with a lower TDP rating. That chip came away from our first look at the Zen 2 series with an Editor's Choice award, going toe-to-toe with Intel's Core i9-9900KS, so it's fair to say we have high hopes for the higher-performance model. AMD still hasn't sampled the chip to the press, so we bought one at retail to put it under the microscope.

As the higher-priced version of the Ryzen 9 3900, the Ryzen 9 3950X has higher base and Boost frequencies of 3.5 and 4.7 GHz, respectively. That's an increase in base frequency and a bump to boost clocks, but the real advantage should lay in the higher Package Power Tracking (PPT) envelope, which is a measurement of the maximum amount of power delivered to the socket. The Ryzen 9 3900's PPT tops out at 65W, while the motherboard can pump up to 142W to the Ryzen 9 3950X at peak performance. That opens up much more aggressive boost behavior, on both single and multiple cores, that could widen the performance gap beyond what we see on the spec sheet.

As we've seen, gaming remains an advantage for Intel, so if squeezing out every last frame is all you care about, Intel's processors are a good choice. Much of that performance advantage will be less noticeable when gaming at higher resolutions, or if you pair the processors with a lesser graphics card.

But, like most humans, if you do things other than gaming, the Ryzen 9 3950X offers a better mixture of performance in single- and multi-threaded applications. The Ryzen 9 3950X offers twice the threads of the price-comparable Core i9-9900KS, and it wields them to great effect in threaded workloads. As such, rendering and encoding remain a strong suit of the Ryzen 9 chips, and AMD's improvements to AVX throughput have yielded impressive results.

Value seekers who aren't afraid to press the Precision Boost Overdrive button and have sufficient cooling should look to the Ryzen 9 3900 for roughly equivalent performance to the Ryzen 9 3950X, particularly if gaming factors heavily into the buying decision. That could save you money, reinforcing our decision to give the Ryzen 9 3900 an Editor's Choice award.

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, like the rest of AMD's Matisse processors, is built on a 7nm manufacturing node – the smallest in a commercially available CPU. What this means for most people is lower power consumption and much improved performance at the same time.

This decision to 7nm has brought a beefy 15% boost to IPC (instructions per clock) performance. Effectively, compared to a Ryzen 9 2-Generation processor at the same clock speed, you will get a straight 15% increase in performance. That’s not big enough to be evident in day-to-day workloads, but it does still mean something.

What this all means is that the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is an absolute beast when it comes to multi-threaded workloads, especially at this price point. If you're counting on doing some video editing or compiling one hell of an Excel spreadsheet, you're going to see firsthand a performance boost with the Ryzen 9 3950X.

Bear in mind, however, that if you already have something like the Ryzen 7 2700X, this generation doesn't offer the biggest boost in performance. You might want to wait another year or so before dropping a few hundred bucks, or even opt to splurge on a higher-end but pricier chip.

If you're mostly playing games on your PC, you will be happy buying either processor. Both proved to be solid options and are evenly matched with a slight advantage to the Intel chip if you don't tune up the Core i9 processor. The base performance we showed for the Ryzen 9 3950X can be achieved with $90 memory, while the Core i9-9900KS will require $110 - $120 memory in order to enable the frame rates shown here. It’s not a big cost difference and right now with anything less than an RTX 2070 or Vega 64 you’ll more than likely become GPU limited.

Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core desktop processor that was released in Nov 2019. AMD offers the Ryzen 9 3950X without integrated graphics. It runs $710 shipped and is ideal for those that plan on using it a system with a dedicated graphics card.

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X seems to be a decent performing chip that is readily available for $710 at your favorite retailer. The main competition for this processor is the Core i9-9900KS 8-Core unlocked desktop processor with Intel UHD Graphics 630 graphics ($1499 shipped).

Now the biggest question is can AMD’s Ryzen 9 processor play games? The answer is simply yes as it got a respectable gaming score of 95% in our benchmarks.

Regardless of those external factors, the Ryzen 9 3950X proves it has the chops to be your main gaming system and a just as effective media creation platform – two things that are becoming intrinsically connected in this age of live-streaming, eSports and uploading gameplay videos.

The Ryzen 9 3950X clocks up to 4.7Ghz just as it promises on the box, and with AMD’s software you can take one of the cores all the way up to 4.8GHz. However, don’t expect to get much beyond that without seriously upgrading your cooling solution and manually tweaking voltages behind the operating system level.

That said, to squeeze out all the potential of this surprisingly potent enthusiast chip, you’ll want (and need) to splurge on an enthusiast-grade X370, X470, X570 motherboard.

Fresh from a successful roll-out of mainstream Ryzen 9 CPUs, AMD's attack on Intel now extends down into the enthusiast with its Ryzen 9 3950X processors, which the company is making available as of Nov 2019.

Right out of the gate, Ryzen 9 should sell for $710, going up against Intel's almost-$1499 Core i9-9900KS. In threaded workloads, the 16-core Ryzen 9 should enjoy an advantage against Intel's 8-core models. Of course, AMD doesn't give you integrated graphics like Intel does, but for enthusiasts building cheap gaming PCs, it isn't much of a draw anyway.

Like all other Matisse chips, the Ryzen 9-series CPUs drop into any Socket AM4 motherboard. But most will find a home on boards equipped with the A320 chipset, which has provisions for overclocking and offers plenty of connectivity options. Unlike Intel, AMD plans to utilize its current socket until 2020, so upgrading to future models shouldn't require a new motherboard.