AMD’s new 32-core/64-thread Threadripper 3970x continues AMD’s 2019 trend of sweeping the field in desktop and server processors. In recent weeks, Ars has tested Threadripper head to head versus Intel’s top-of-the-line i9-10980XE High End Desktop (HEDT) CPU, as well as its i9-9900KS gaming CPU. To nobody’s surprise, the Threadripper is faster—a lot faster—than either, although with some caveats.
When comparing the rest of the Ryzen 3000 line to Intel’s 2019 desktop CPU lineup, one of the standout metrics is thermal design power (TDP). Non-threadripper Ryzen 3000 CPUs meet or beat the Intel desktop lineup on performance and TDP, which means quieter, cooler systems that don’t cost as much to keep running. All that changes once you leave the “normal” desktop line and go Threadripper. With Threadripper, AMD is clearly far more concerned with raw power than niceties like running quiet or cool.
The above chart shows the whole system power draw as measured by a Kill-a-Watt power meter. Power draw was tested at minimum shown idling for one minute at the Windows 10 desktop and maximum during Passmark all-core CPU benchmarking.
Just for fun, we also did a little testing of the Threadripper with Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) automatic overclocking enabled. The difference between default and PBO boosted clocks is more clear at the power meter than it is in the benchmarks themselves. Maximum power draw shoots up by about 20-25% with PBO enabled, but the actual performance hardly changed in most benchmarks.