High-End Desktop? What’s That?

The Ryzen 9 3950X Comes Into View

As teased at E3 and seemingly every show that AMD has been to since, we’re now ready to get our hands on AMD’s top-tier consumer-grade processor. The Ryzen 9 3950X is the bigger cousin to the Ryzen 9 3900X, this time using two 8-core chiplets built on TSMC’s 7nm process with the Zen 2 microarchitecture. This is paired with the same I/O die, and overall this Ryzen 9 3950X will offer four more cores and +100 MHz on the turbo frequency over the 3900X, all at a $749 recommended retail price point.

AMD 'Matisse' Ryzen 3000 Series CPUs
AnandTech Cores
TDP Price
Ryzen 9 3950X 16C 32T 3.5 4.7 8 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $749
Ryzen 9 3900X 12C 24T 3.8 4.6 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 105W $499
Ryzen 9 3900 12C 24T 3.1 4.3 6 MB 64 MB 16+4+4 1+2 65W OEM
Ryzen 7 3800X 8C 16T 3.9 4.5 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 105W $399
Ryzen 7 3700X 8C 16T 3.6 4.4 4 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $329
Ryzen 5 3600X 6C 12T 3.8 4.4 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 95W $249
Ryzen 5 3600 6C 12T 3.6 4.2 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W $199
Ryzen 5 3500X 6C 6T 3.6 4.1 3 MB 32 MB 16+4+4 1+1 65W OEM

The Ryzen 9 3950X will be compatible in the majority of AM4 motherboards, although in order to take advantage of the 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes on the CPU, an X570 motherboard is recommended. The 16 cores offer a 3.5 GHz base frequency and a 4.7 GHz single core boost frequency; the overall all-core turbo frequency will be dependent on the motherboard used, the quality of the silicon, and the turbo in play.

The 105W TDP matches that of the 12-core part, and it should be noted that the 3950X will not come with an in-the-box cooler. Instead, AMD argues that customers looking at this price range of CPU typically go out and purchase their own, something better than the 125 W Wraith Prism that AMD might have put in the box. To that end AMD is going to publish a list of recommended cooling solutions that are pre-validated by AMD on the website, which should be live on today (the 7th).

Regarding BIOS and AGESA versions on motherboards: AMD has stated that AGESA (also known as Patch B) is going to be required in order to enable full performance on the Ryzen 9 3950X. AMD stated that this AGESA version actually unites several different groups of Ryzen CPUs under the same numbering scheme, to make it easier to manage. It is worth noting that when quizzed, AMD acknowledged that some motherboard manufacturers were putting out ‘beta’ versions of, rather than the full release, and they recommend that users should wait for a full version for their motherboard (even though some motherboard manufacturers aren’t exactly being clear).

In terms of performance, AMD claims a +22% single thread performance jump for the 3950X over the 2700X, in 1080p gaming the company claims it goes toe-to-toe against the Core i9-9900K and trounces the Core i9-9920X (a $1200 CPU), and in content creation it surpasses both the 9900K and 9920X by 18-79% in selected tests. The company also states that a 16-core 3950X uses less wall power than an 8-core 9900K system.

Unlocked CPU Pricing
and Select Others
(MSRP Pricing)
Cores AnandTech Cores Intel*
(OEM Pricing)
    $900-$999 18/36 Core i9-10980XE ($979)
Ryzen 9 3950X ($749) 16/32 $700-$799 14/28 Core i9-10940X ($784)
    $600-$699 12/24 Core i9-10920X ($689)
    $500-$599 10/20
Core i9-10900X ($590)
Core i9-9900KS ($513)
Ryzen 9 3900X ($499) 12/24 $400-$499 8/16 Core i9-9900K/F ($488)
Ryzen 7 3800X ($399) 8/16 $350-$399 8/8 Core i7-9700K/F ($374)
Ryzen 7 3700X ($329) 8/16 $300-$349    
    $250-$299 6/6 Core i5-9600K ($262)
Ryzen 5 3600X ($249) 6/12 $200-$249    
Ryzen 5 3600 ($199) 6/12 Below $200 4/4 Core i3-9350K ($173)
*Intel quotes OEM/tray pricing. Retail pricing will sometimes be $20-$50 higher.

With Intel cutting its upcoming Cascade Lake-X HEDT processor line in half (and conveniently not releasing a 16-core part), the field does get a little more competitive for anyone looking at building a holiday system. What is important to note here is that AMD is shifting the line between consumer and high-end desktop higher: users spending $749 on a CPU get a ton of cores, but if they need more PCIe lanes, they have to go even higher to get the latest and greatest (see 3rd Gen Threadripper below). On a different note, AMD did state that Intel’s recent price adjustments had no effect on its product plans.

One side announcement from AMD, regarding all of the Ryzen 3000 hardware, is that every CPU now supports a cTDP down mode through the Ryzen Master software. With the tool, users can select the next power range down from the TDP of the processor. This means that 95W/105W CPUs can be set to run at 65W, then the 65W CPUs can be set to run at 45W, and the 45W CPUs can run at 35W.

AMD is doing this because they have seen a number of customers request high-core count processors at lower TDP values. Rather than releasing a wide array of X and non-X parts to satisfy all different areas of the market, AMD is offering this ‘cTDP down-like’ option for system builders that do want to focus on something like a 65W 16-core processor for their system. This isn’t to say that AMD will not release non-X CPUs in the future (they’re typically cheaper than the X CPUs), but rather than have customers wait for those parts to enter the market, AMD is giving this option to speed up adoption.

AMD 2019 Fall Update 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadripper, Up to 32 Cores
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  • tamalero - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - link

    Its Pentium 4 vs Athlon X2 all over again.
  • urmom - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    IDK, I runn all core on my 3900x @4.4Ghz.
  • Irata - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Their performance / W comparison is based on results vs. power use, so perfectly valid. Does not really matter at what clock speed each CPU ran if it was at their best (stock).

    As for there only being CB shown - yes, that is indeed only one case. Wish they had included more.
  • HollyDOL - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    I remember seeing some reviews mentioning power hog chipset on AMD side pretty much nullifying any advantage they gain on pure CPU. Ie. while cpu was more efficient platform itself in the end was less... Is that still an issue?
  • Targon - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Because you can run the third generation Ryzen processors on first or second generation motherboards, the issue of high motherboard power draw can be avoided, and you only lose PCIe 4.0 speeds. I am running my Ryzen 3900X on an Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, no problems at all, and no need for an active cooler for the chipset.
  • evernessince - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link


    The difference between these CPUs is over a 100w, not 15. Simple math tells me the chipset is not going to make up the difference even if it was running at it's max of 15w.

    In addition, no one said you had to use the X570 chipset with this processor. If you don't need PCIe 4.0, go with a cheaper motherboard. If you do AMD is the only choice right now .
  • yannigr2 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    People started understanding that frequency is not everything when Pentium 4 was still selling. More than 15 years have passed since then.
  • Oliseo - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    AMD has better IPC than Intel. Intel needs those high clock speeds to keep up.

    Performanc per watt, Intel are getting obliterated.

    (i9 9900k owner, I have no dog in any fight, but i like to stick to facts)
  • alufan - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    omg still folks dont get it the AMD chip does as well as or in many cases better at a lower clock and lower voltage that means it uses its power more efficiently to do virtually or in some cases more of the same work whats so difficult about that to understand?
  • unixguru88 - Thursday, November 7, 2019 - link

    Given that a core count race seems to be the new Mhz race, what type of casual everyday programs can we expect to take advantage of 16/32 or more cores? Are there any game engines that can meaningfully use 32 cores? I can seet browsers taking advantage of high core counts trivially by being able to remain performant with many tabs of JavaScript heavy pages open. What else could potentially use 32 or more cores?

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