Battle of the 16-cores: Intel’s Core i9-7960X vs. AMD’s Threadripper 1950X

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X & Intel Core i9-7960X Processors
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by Rob Williams on January 6, 2018 in Processors

It still feels a little hard to believe, but both AMD and Intel offer the enthusiast market their own take on a 16-core chip. Remember when quad-cores seemed overkill for desktops? At the top-end, the CPU you choose can greatly affect your workload for better or for worse. So, let’s see what these beefy chips are made of.

Test Systems & Methodologies

Benchmarking a CPU may sound like a simple enough task, but in order to deliver accurate, repeatable results, and not to mention results that don’t favor one vendor over another, strict guidelines need to be adhered to. That in turn makes for rigorous, time-consuming testing, but we feel that the effort is worth it.

This page exists so that we can be open about how we test, and give those who care about testing procedures an opportunity to review our methodology before flaming us in the comments. Here, you can see a breakdown of all of our test machines, specifics about the tests themselves, and other general information that might be useful.

Let’s start with a look at the test platforms, for AMD’s TR4, and Intel’s LGA2011-v3. We’re in the process of benchmarking every current-gen chip we have over, so for now, only six CPUs are included in these results.

The focus of this article is to compare the 16-core options from AMD and Intel, but since baselines are useful, a quad-, eight-, and ten-core have also been tested to see how our tests scale their way upward. Intel’s 18-core has also been included for good measure – and because it was the first chip tested.

To prevent unexpected performance results, the “Multi-Core Enhancement” optimizations (effectively overclocking all cores to max turbo, instead of just two cores) offered by ASUS and GIGABYTE on their respective motherboards is disabled. All of the CPUs have been tested with the same memory modules, clocked at the same DDR4-3200 with 16-18-18 timings. The only caveat is with the odd duck i7-7740X, which is stuck to a dual-channel controller.

SmartKevin’s CPU Testing Platforms

AMD TR4 Test Platform
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (3.4GHz, 8C/16T)
MotherboardGIGABYTE X399 AORUS Gaming 7
CPU tested with BIOS F3g (Oct 13, 2017)
MemoryCorsair VENGEANCE RGB (CMU32GX4M4C3200C16) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 16-18-18-36 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 388.13)
StorageCrucial MX300 525GB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyEnermax RevoBron 80+ Bronze (600W)
ChassisEnermax Equilence
CoolingEnermax Liqtech TR4 AIO (240mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 16299), Ubuntu 17.10 (4.13 kernel)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (Zen)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
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As tested configuration: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (Zen)
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There’s not too much to say here, which is a good thing. While we didn’t find a huge difference to be made with the Core optimization left on (default), we disabled it to keep things as “reference” as possible. I truly dislike the EFI GIGABYTE has equipped on this board, as it’s pretty clunky, and in my opinion, disorganized. But, where it lacks in EFI polish, the board has made up for in stability.


Intel LGA2011-3 Test Platform
ProcessorsIntel Core i9-7980XE (2.6GHz, 18C/36T)
Intel Core i9-7960X (2.8GHz, 16C/32T)
Intel Core i9-7900X (3.3GHz, 10C/20T)
Intel Core i7-7820X (3.6GHz, 8C/16T)
Intel Core i7-7740X (4.3GHz, 4C/8T)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING
CPU tested with BIOS 1004 (Nov 14, 2017)
MemoryCorsair VENGEANCE RGB (CMU32GX4M4C3200C16) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 16-18-18-36 (1.35V)
GraphicsNVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 388.13)
StorageCrucial MX300 525GB (SATA 6Gbps)
Power SupplyCorsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 (1200W)
ChassisCorsair Carbide 600C
CoolingNZXT Kraken X62 AIO (280mm)
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (Build 16299), Ubuntu 17.10 (4.13 kernel)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7980XE (Skylake-X)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7980XE (Skylake-X)
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7960X (Skylake-X)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7960X (Skylake-X)
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7900X (Skylake-X)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
As tested configuration: Intel Core i9-7900X (Skylake-X)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - SLI Configuration
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7820X (Skylake-X)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7820X (Skylake-X)
AMD Ryzen 7 1600X - As Tested EFI Overview
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7740X (Kaby Lake-X)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview
As tested configuration: Intel Core i7-7740X (Kaby Lake-X)
AMD Ryzen 7 1500X - As Tested EFI Overview

As with the TR4 platform, the Core “Enhancements” option is disabled on the LGA2011-v3 platform.

Windows Benchmarks

For the bulk of our testing, we use Windows 10 build 16299 with full updates as the base. After installation, LAN, audio, and chipset drivers are installed even if they are not explicitly needed (because Windows can use generic driver versions). Our basic guidelines beyond that are:

  • Everything is disabled in “Customize settings” during OS install.
  • 3D Vision and GeForce Experience are not installed with the graphics driver.
  • Some services are disabled: search, User Account Control, Firewall, and Defender.
  • The OneDrive app is changed to not start with Windows.
  • The “Photos” app is removed, as it was found to hog CPU in the background
    PowerShell: Get-AppxPackage *photos* | Remove-AppxPackage
  • The “Performance” power profile is used, with screen timeouts disabled.
  • All notifications are disabled through the Settings screen.
  • Desktop resolution is run at 2560×1440.
  • Testing doesn’t begin until the PC is idle (keeps a steady minimum wattage).
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Adobe Lightroom Classic CC: RAW to JPEG Export
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Autodesk 3ds Max 2015: (SPECapc 3ds Max 2015)
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Autodesk 3ds Max 2018: Fish Bowl Render (Arnold Renderer)
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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018: Blu-ray Concert Encode
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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018: 4K RED Encode
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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018: 8K RED Encode
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Blender: Pavillon Render
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Cinebench R15.038
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dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
dBpoweramp R15.1
dBpoweramp - Convert FLAC to MP3
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
SiSoftware Sandra 2017 SP3
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

All of the tests shown above are used in their stock configuration. If you’re a Blender user and wish to compare your system’s performance to ours, you can download the project files for free here.

Gaming Benchmarks

Because the biggest bottleneck in a game is the graphics card, the workload needs to be put on the CPU as much as possible in order to better understand the raw performance scaling. As such, some of the games tested here were run at 1080p and 4K, with moderate detail levels.

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Ashes of the Singularity Escalation: Benchmark Screenshot
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Ashes of the Singularity Escalation: Game Settings
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Grand Theft Auto V: Benchmark Screenshot
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Grand Theft Auto V: Game Settings
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Grand Theft Auto V: Game Settings
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Futuremark 3DMark
Grand Theft Auto V: Game Settings
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
Grand Theft Auto V: Game Settings
CyberPowerPC AMD VR Gaming PC - Keyboard Switches
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Total War 2: WARHAMMER II: Benchmark Screenshot
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Total War 2: WARHAMMER II: Game Settings
Sony Ps4 Pro Angled View
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch_Dogs 2: Benchmark Screenshot
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch_Dogs 2: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z) Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)
Watch_Dogs 2: Game Settings
Intel Core i7-6700K (CPU-Z & GPU-Z)

Because Ashes offers the ability to act only as a CPU benchmark, it makes sense to use that for a CPU performance article. GTA V isn’t very GPU intensive, leading us to see similar results at both 1080p and 4K. As such, only 1080p is used for that title. WARHAMMER II and Watch_Dogs 2 are tested at 4K, as well as 1080p.

Linux Benchmarks

Ubuntu 17.10 is the OS of choice for our test bed, as it’s both simple to set up, and so de facto that everyone reading the results should feel at home. The OS is left as stock as possible, with minor software added, and everything updated.

Before testing begins, we take the Phoronix Test Suite suggestion of enabling the “performance” power profile; something that actually improved the encode test by 15%-ish. The command run (sudo):

echo performance | tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_governor

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Blender: Pavillon Render
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Phoronix Test Suite 7.0
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Both the Blender and HandBrake tests are shared with the Windows testing. Phoronix Test Suite is used for the bulk of our Linux testing, as it supplies the tests we need, and makes them easy to use.


If you think there’s some information lacking on this page, or you simply want clarification on anything in particular, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Rob Williams

Rob founded SmartKevin in 2005 to be an ‘Advocate of the consumer’, focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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