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.

Rendering: (3ds Max 2015 & 2018), Blender, Cinebench, POV-Ray & V-Ray

(All of our tests are explained in detail on page 2.)

Design and rendering is one of the greatest areas of computing to benchmark to highlight the benefits of faster hardware, whether it be a CPU, GPU, memory, and even storage. On a low-end system, a production render might take hours, for example, whereas on a high-end system, that render could be shaved down to the tens of minutes.

With these results, it’s up to you to gauge where the best value can be found. In some cases, it might be beneficial to go with more modest hardware if the time-to-render isn’t of a great concern; in other cases, spending more on faster hardware might actually save you money in the long-run.

For our rendering tests, we use Autodesk’s 3ds Max (2015, for SPECapc, and 2018, for our real-world model render), the popular open source design suite Blender, as well as Cinebench, POV-Ray, and V-Ray Benchmark for some quick-and-dirty results.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 & 2018

AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - SPECapc 3ds Max 2015
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Autodesk 3ds Max 2018

Both sets of results are saying similar things here, but Intel enjoyed stronger performance in SPEC’s test, with the i9-7900X placing ahead of AMD’s 1950X. With the real-world render, Threadripper came within striking distance of the 7960X. AMD doesn’t mention Autodesk too often when it comes to performance, not even in relation to its professional GPU lines, but where Threadripper is concerned, it’s no slouch.

Blender

AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Blender Renders

Results like these highlight the fact that not all projects are built alike. The 16-core Intel chip somehow outperformed the 18-core with the Pavillon render, but it scaled as expected with the more time-intensive Agent 327 (both projects can be downloaded for free here.) In the given match-up of 16-core vs. 16-core, Intel’s clearly winning the fight. But don’t worry – AMD has some tricks up its sleeves.

Synthetic Renderers: Cinebench, POV-Ray, V-Ray

AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - Cinebench
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - POV-Ray
AMD & Intel 16-core CPU Performance - V-Ray Benchmark

Synthetic tests are not entirely representative of the real-world in all cases, but when we need reliable, repeatable numbers, they can truly prove useful. That’s especially true when they don’t really seem to favor one architecture over another; AMD’s scaling here is to be expected from its slightly weaker IPC performance. Meanwhile, the 7980XE offers modest gains over the 7960X, as its 12.5% increase in cores would suggest.

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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