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AMD Ryzen 3950X vs. Ryzen 3900X

Ryzen 3000 chips have HEDT power, but which top end CPU is right for you?

AMD’s Ryzen 3900X and 3950X are two supremely powerful processors that would be considered unimaginable just a few years ago. With huge core counts, high clock speeds, and great overall performance, they put Intel’s mainstream and HEDT chips to shame.

But which one should you buy? There’s a big price gap between them, so pitting the Ryzen 3950X vs. 3900X might help us find out which is the best of the two.If you don’t quite fancy spending $500+ on a CPU, check out AMD’s other great processors.

Pricing and availability

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
Ryzen 3000-series CPUs Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The AMD Ryzen 3900X was launched alongside the rest of the Ryzen 3000 range in July 2019. Its suggested retail price is $499, though at the end of 2019 it is often found for closer to $550.

The AMD Ryzen 3950X was initially scheduled for a September release, but that was pushed back to November over alleged issues with hitting its rated clock speed. It was eventually unveiled in November and is set to go on sale on November 25 with a price tag of $750. We would expect it to be extremely popular, however, so stock issues may arise and that could see the price go up after launch.

Performance

The Ryzen 3900X was the flagship chip of this Ryzen generation. That is, until the 3950X came along. These are both extremely powerful, high-end CPUs. They’re arguably HEDT chips, despite their targeting of the more mainstream sector, and their specifications reflect that. They’ve each been found faster than Intel’s most capable HEDT CPUs too.

CPU Cores Threads L3 Cache Base clock Boost clock (single core) TDP
AMD Ryzen 3900X 12 24 64MB 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 105w
AMD Ryzen 3950X 16 32 64MB 3.5GHz 4.7GHz 105w

The biggest differentiator between these two CPUs is their core and thread counts. With an additional four cores and eight threads, the Ryzen 3950X is by far the more capable multithreaded CPU. Finding tasks that can take advantage of that many cores and threads, though, is another matter. Unless you are doing heavy video editing or video transcoding, then you are unlikely to really make use of those additional threads. They would certainly be spinning their wheels in gaming.

Indeed, the 3900X is arguably an overkill CPU just for gaming, but if you game and stream at the same time, both of these CPUs excel. Amazingly, considering its additional cores, the 3950X is slightly faster than the 3900X at gaming too, but only by a few percent points.

When it comes to the raw power of these high-end chips, the question really is whether you can make use of the extra cores and whether saving those few seconds, or maybe minutes in the case of heavy workloads, will be worth spending 50% more for. You definitely don’t get 50% more power, but you do get more of it.

TDP is the same for both chips, but note the lower base clock of the 3950X. You’ll want to make sure you have strong cooling for either of these processors, but especially so with the 3950X to make sure it maintains a high boost clock speed.

3900X offers far more bang for buck, but…

If we look at these two chips purely in the microcosm of this head to head, there are two definitive statements that we can make. The 3950X is the better of the two chips, but the 3900X represents far greater value for money. On a dollar to performance basis, there is little comparison to be made. The 3950X gives you a couple of extra frames per second when gaming, and reduces run times of certain productivity tasks between 10 and 30 percent, depending on how heavily multithreaded the application is.

But the 3900X is cheaper by a third. That’s nothing to sniff at.

If you’re a pure gamer, neither of these chips should be on your radar. The 3700X and 3800X are very close to both of these and cost a fraction of what the 3900X and 3950X do. But if you can make use of all these cores, then the 3900X offers the best bang for buck, with one major caveat; If your software can take advantage of 24 threads, there’s a good chance it can take advantage of 32 threads.

That’s not a given, but it’s likely, and in that case, if you’re looking for the fastest possible multithreaded chip, saving you precious seconds in your rendering and transcoding, then the 3950X is the chip to get.

If budget isn’t such a concern though, you might want to hold off for the Theadripper 3000 CPUs in January. They’ll have up to 64 cores and 128 threads, which is in a whole other realm of multithreaded power.

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