“Gaming, productivity -- the Ryzen 9 7950X3D does it all, assuming you can stomach its high price.”
- Chart-topping gaming performance
- More efficient than base Ryzen 9 7950X
- Productivity performance keeps pace
- Unlocked for overclocking
- AM5 is still a costly upgrade
After claiming a small victory, AMD took a back seat to Intel’s Core i9-13900K on the list of the best processors. But AMD is looking to gain some ground on Team Blue, and it’s bringing extra cache this time around.
The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is a processor that wouldn’t be possible just a year ago, as it promises to not only deliver excellent productivity performance, but also gaming performance due to AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology. It delivers on both fronts, but it’s also entering a market that has moved to lower prices, putting the value ball back in Intel’s court.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D specs
The main difference between the Ryzen 9 7950X and its 3D-stacked counterpart is AMD’s 3D V-Cache. This processor comes with 128MB of L3 cache and 144MB of total cache — a massive 80% jump over the base processor.
AMD stacks this cache on top of the Core Chiplet Die (CCD), same as the previous Ryzen 7 5800X3D, but this is where the Ryzen 9 7950X3D gets interesting. It has two CCDs, each housing eight cores, and only one of them hasthe additional layer of cache.
|Ryzen 9 7950X3D||Ryzen 9 7950X||Ryzen 9 7900X3D||Ryzen 9 7900X|
|Boost clock speed||5.7GHz||5.7GHz||5.6GHz||5.6GHz|
|Base clock speed||4.2GHz||4.5GHz||4.4GHz||4.7GHz|
|Cache (L2 + L3)||144MB||80MB||140MB||76MB|
|Price||$700||$590 (lowest)||$600||$450 (lowest)|
This hardware design is what makes the Ryzen 9 7950X3D possible in the first place. The processor communicates with the operating system to focus on the cache CCD for tasks that are sensitive to cache, and the non-cache CCD for tasks that are sensitive to frequency. It’s like a different take on the hybrid architecture in Intel’s Core i9-12900K and how it works with Thread Director.
It’s not free, though. You must have the latest chipset driver installed for your motherboard, as well as an updated version of Xbox Game Bar. The optimization services rely on Xbox Game Bar to tell the processor when you’re playing a game through a universal database. I didn’t run into any games not in the database while testing, but there’s still a nontrivial problem here. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D may have performance hurdles in certain games not in the database, as well as with other operating systems that don’t come with the necessary services to optimize its unique architecture.
Outside of the cache, AMD also reduced the base clock speed (but not the boost block speed), as well as trimmed the power. The latter revision comes on the heels of AMD’s non-X Ryzen 7000 chips like the Ryzen 5 7600, which showcased much better efficiency with lower power limits.
There’s nothing too special about my test configurations. I benchmarked the Core i9-13900K, Ryzen 9 7950X, and, of course, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, all with Nvidia’s RTX 4080 and a 32B kit of DDR5-6000 memory. I used different brands of memory — Corsair Vengeance for the Intel build and Gigabyte Aorus for the AMD — but they came with the same specs.
|AMD Zen 4||Intel 13th-gen|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 7950X / AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D||Intel Core i9-13900K|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 4080 Founders Edition||Nvidia RTX 4080 Founders Edition|
|RAM||32GB Gigabyte Aorus DDR5-6000||32GB Corsair Vengeance DDR5-6000|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X670E Aorus Master||MSI MPG Z690 Edge|
|CPU cooler||Corsair H150i Elite Capellix||Corsair H150i Elite LCD|
|Power supply||Gigabyte Aorus P1200W||Gigabyte Aorus P1200W|
|Storage||Corsair MP400 1TB SSD||MSI M450 1TB|
All three platforms were running the latest 22H2 Windows 11 update. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D got a few specific BIOS tweaks to ensure AMD’s 3D V-Cache optimizations were running, but otherwise, the platforms all had ReBAR turned on, XMP or EXPO set to the default profile, and no in-BIOS overclocking enabled. I also left AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) turned off, but the automatic overclocking feature is available on the AMD chips if you want a hair more extra performance.
The big problem with AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D was that it was only good for gaming. It struggled in standard productivity tasks, but the unique design of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D helps solve that issue. AMD wants it to provide the best of both worlds, and in most cases, it does.
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D||AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||Intel Core i9-13900K|
|Cinebench R23 multi-core||36,335||38,116||40,191|
|Cinebench R23 single core||2,045||2,030||2,259|
|7-Zip||224,446 MIPs||224,581 MIPS||175,477|
|Handbrake (seconds, lower is better)||38||38||37|
|PugetBench for Photoshop||1,590||1,574||1,634|
|Y-Cruncher multi-core (seconds, lower is better)||8.87||9.26||9.93|
|Y-Cruncher single core (seconds, lower is better)||77.19||77.11||89.19|
It’s not one-for-one with the base Ryzen 9 7950X, though. Single-core speed is the same in Cinebench, but multi-core operations like Blender and the variety of web apps tested through JetStream 2 are a bit behind. Intel still leads in transcoding, as well as raw single-core speed, but the boosted cache on the Ryzen 9 7950X3D helps in some tasks like calculating Pi through Y-Cruncher.
The biggest hope for the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is that it would hold up to the base Ryzen 9 7950X. And despite some small regressions, it’s still a plenty powerful processor for productivity. The main issue it has is the Core i9-13900K. AMD claimed anywhere from a 4% to 52% lead for the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, but my benchmarks show that most tasks are closer to that 4% mark.
More than ever, gaming performance of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D proves that not all games are built equally. In cache-sensitive titles like Far Cry 6, the chip shoots ahead, but in more GPU-intensive games like Red Dead Redemption 2, the updated chip provides little benefit. Synthetic benchmarks actually show slight regressions.
I don’t want that to distract from the point here; the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the best gaming CPU you can buy right now, and sometimes by a significant margin. But my results below are at 1080p with high graphics settings, and most people spending $700 on a CPU want to play at 4K with graphics maxed out. Your GPU becomes the bottleneck in the vast majority of games at that high of a resolution, so keep that in mind when looking over my results.
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D||AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||Intel Core i9-13900K|
|F1 2022||379.8 fps||363.7 fps||368.2 fps|
|Far Cry 6||196.1 fps||156.8 fps||145.7 fps|
|Gears Tactics||273.5 fps||244.9 fps||255.3 fps|
|Hitman 3 (Dartmoor)||234.6 fps||197.4 fps||203.8 fps|
|Read Dead Redemption 2||164.8 fps||163.5 fps||162.7 fps|
|Time Spy CPU||16,116||15,831||18,516|
There are still some big wins for AMD’s latest processor at 1080p. The Ryzen 9 7950X was a bit behind Intel’s Core i9-13900K, but the refreshed version brings a solid 3% lead for AMD. Similarly, Intel’s processor won in Gears Tactics and Hitman 3 before, but now AMD is back in first place with a 7% and 15% lead, respectively.
Far Cry 6 is a very good example of how much the 3D V-Cache is doing for the Ryzen 9 7950X3D. AMD held a lead in this game before, but the updated processor now commands a 25% jump over the base Ryzen 9 7950X.
It’s not all flat-out wins, though. In Time Spy’s synthetic CPU benchmark, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D only shows negligible gains over the base version, while Intel still held onto the lead. In addition, the AI chess engine Leela Chess Zero favored Intel’s processor with its slightly higher boost clock speed.
Still, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D puts AMD back in the gaming lead, even if the advantages will slip at higher resolutions. The big problem is that it’s at least $100 more expensive than the Core i9-13900K. While some titles show a massive 15% lead to justify that price, there are a lot more GPU-limited games (especially at 4K) where there are slim differences, such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
Is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D worth it?
Between the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D, Ryzen 9 7950X, and Intel’s Core i9-13900K, there isn’t a bad option. All are excellent processors that excel in both gaming and productivity, but it’s clear that the Ryzen 9 7950X3D holds a slight lead in gaming.
The trade-off comes in productivity performance, where the Ryzen 9 7950X and Core i9-13900K trade blows but the Ryzen 9 7950X3D falls slightly behind. For those who are willing to sacrifice a hair of gaming performance, the Core i9-13900K and Ryzen 9 7950X still provide a much better value, and they’re more powerful processors outside of gaming.
For the bunch that needs the best of both worlds, though, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D delivers. It’s the fastest gaming processor on the market. It’s not quite as powerful at its direct competition in productivity apps, but the regressions are small considering how powerful the chip is overall.
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