After the embargo on the Intel Core i9 10980XE expired a few hours ago, now we are allowed to share the performance numbers on the new AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and 3970X processors. These new Zen 2 HEDT CPUs pack a real performance punch, but do come in as more expensive than the i9-10980XE and there is one boot-stopping Linux bug to mention with a workaround… But besides that lone Linux support caveat, the Threadripper 3960X and Threadripper 3970X absolutely dominate in performance.
The Ryzen Threadripper 3960X is AMD’s new $1399 USD processor that features 24 cores / 48 threads, 3.8GHz base frequency, and 4.5GHz boost frequency with an impressive 140MB cache. This isn’t even the top-end Zen 2 HEDT and in core count and most other details already outpaces the Core i9 10980XE: the base clock is 800MHz higher than the 10980XE but the turbo/boost clock is 100MHz lower on the 3960X.
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X meanwhile commands a $1999 USD price but offers 32 cores / 64 threads with a 3.7GHz base frequency and 4.5GHz boost frequency while having a 144MB cache.
Both of these processors have a 280 Watt TDP, for which AMD included an NZXT Kraken X62 all-in-one water cooling setup for cooling. When testing the Threadripper 3960X with a Noctua TR4-SP3 heatsink it worked out sufficiently well but still operating on the higher side. For the Threadripper 3970X we also tried a Noctua TR4-SP3 U14S and it did work well but the reported package temperature did spike into the 90s… Well, at least via the Linux k10temp thermal driver, the ASUS ROG ZENITH II Extreme with its onboard CPU temperature reporting via the LCD panel on the motherboard itself was commonly showing in the 70s~80s (though the Linux driver should be accurate as no Tctl offset is needed for Zen 2, but there was a discrepency in these numbers reported).
These new Threadripper CPUs do require new motherboards with the TRX40 chipset. AMD included as part of the review kit the ASUS ROG ZENITH II EXTREME and MSI CREATOR TRX40 motherboards. Also included with the kit was the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 4 x 16GB DDR4-3600 memory and a Corsair Force MP600 PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid-state drive.
Given the AMD EPYC 7002 “Rome” processors already to market and the Ryzen 3000 series, going into this I wasn’t anticipating any Linux issues at all for these 7nm Zen 2 Threadripper CPUs. But I was quickly greeted by one big surprise…
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