Ryzen 3000 Review: AMD's 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X conquers its past

With its ground-breaking 7nm process, AMD's Ryzen 9 3900X leaves very little room for Intel's best CPUs.

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Ryzen 9 3900X 3D Modeling Performance

Up first is the old standby of Maxon’s Cinebench R15. This benchmark is built on the same engine used in Maxon’s Cinema 4D modeling and animation application. Cinema 4D is also built into Adobe’s Premiere and After Effects applications.

ryzen 9 3900x cinebench  r15 nt mcepbooff IDG

No surprise: 12 cores easily outguns 8 cores, making the Ryzen 9 3900X the easy winner here.

In the no-surprise category, we see the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X simply demolish the 8-core Core i9-9900K to the tune of 42 percent. With 40 percent more threads at its disposal, we kinda expected this. Still, this is impressive performance and to be lauded.

Perhaps more important is the single-threaded performance of the Ryzen 9 3900X. With a boost clock of 4.6GHz on the Ryzen 9 3900X vs. the boost clock of 5GHz on the Core i9-9900K that gives the Intel part about an 8 percent clock advantage in pure clock speed.

ryzen 9 3900x cinebench r15 1t mcepbooff IDG

That’s impressive single-threaded performance for the Ryzen 9 3900X.

Not all megahertz are the same, though. With AMD’s much-improved instructions per clock—essentially how efficient the chip is—the Ryzen 9 is but 2 to 3 percent slower than the Core i9.

Cinebench R15, however, is fairly old, having come out in 2013, so we also measured all three CPUs using the new Cinebench R20. Intel generally is a bit faster in this updated test—against older Zen+ cores.

ryzen 9 3900x cinebench  r20 1t mcepbooff IDG

Shifting to the updated Cinebench R20, the Ryzen 9 3900X actually pulls ahead in single-threaded performance.

The situation changes for the Zen 2 cores in the Ryzen 9 3900X, resulting in a 3-percent bump in single-threaded performance. That’s a nice shift for AMD.

The tables turn for multi-threaded performance. The 12-core AMD part smashes the 8-core Intel part by 42 percent.

ryzen 9 3900x cinebench  r20 nt mcepbooff IDG

No surprise: The Ryzen 9 3900X essential runs the Core i9 off the field in multi-threaded performance.

We also tested the chips using Chaos Group’s Corona Renderer benchmark. Corona is a “modern unbiased photorealistic renderer,” which refers to the precision in which it renders the scene—not unbiased based on the hardware it’s run on.

ryzen 9 3900x corona renderer 1.3 IDG

The Corona modeler likes 12 cores more than 8 cores.

In this multi-threaded test, we see the Ryzen 9 outrun the Core i9 by about 32 percent. And yup, the body blows keep coming.

We run V-Ray Next, which is another renderer from the Chaos Group. The result? About 31 percent in favor of the Ryzen 9 over the Core i9.

ryzen 9 3900x vray next mceoff IDG

Bored yet? V-Ray Next reinforces what we’re seeing in other modeling apps.

What about the free and popular 3D modeler Blender 2.80, using the intensive Gooseberry test file? How about 43 percent in favor of the Ryzen 9 over the Core i9.

ryzen 9 3900x blender 2.80 gooseberry mcepbooff IDG

Dayum. The Ryzen 9 3900X is fast.

We’ll close off the 3D tasks with the oldie, but goodie POV-Ray 3.7 benchmark. The Persistence of Vision Raytracer is an open-source, free tool that has roots in the Amiga platform. Using the application’s built-in test, we saw the Ryzen 9 about 44 percent faster than the Core i9 in multi-threaded mode.

ryzen 9 3900x pov ray 3.7 nt mcepbooff IDG

What a shocker: The Ryzen 9 mops the floor with the Core i9.

POV-Ray also has a single-threaded benchmark, in which the Core i9 and its 5GHz clock ekes out a 4-percent win over the 4.6GHz Ryzen 9. A win is a win, but most are likely to say big whoop.

ryzen 9 3900x pov ray 3.7 1t mcepbooff IDG

The 5GHz boost clock of the Core i9 gives it a very slight edge over the Ryzen 9 in POV-Ray when set to test a single thread.

Viewport Performance

Before we jump to the next section we did want to explore a protest we had heard from Intel fans. We’ll summarize it as, “we know the simple math of 12 > 8 is true, but for 3D artists, the time waiting for rendering is not as critical as the seat time when you actively need faster responsiveness.” That is, system “snappiness” when trying to do precise modelling is just as important if not more important. In that world, the math of 5GHz > 4.6GHz, so Intel wins in that department.

To test that theory we looked to CGDirector.com’s free Cinema4D Viewport Performance benchmark. CGDirector is an PC enthusiast site for 3D content creators, video editors, and other users who work in graphics-intensive applications.

For a better interface or “viewport” experience for 3D artists, CGDirector said the CPU is the chief bottleneck—and not the GPU. That means chips with higher frequency and higher IPC typically are more important.

“In this Cinema 4D Viewport Benchmark, we measure the FPS of a typical Scene that uses common 3D Objects from Cinema 4D Objects in a hierarchy,” the website said. 

For this test, we ran the Cinema 4D Viewport benchmark with a demo version of Cinema 4D R20.

Some of the results the site has posted register a 7th-gen Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K with a boost clock of 4.5GHz at 1,049, and a 16-core Skylake X Core i9-9960X with a boost clock of 4.4GHz at 1,045. A Xeon X5450 with a relatively low boost clock of 3GHz scores 418 in the test. 

rzyen 9 3900x cinema 4d viewport performance IDG

Using CGDirector’s Viewport Performance test, the Core i9 has the win but the Ryzen 9 isn’t too far behind is it?

Because this test is new to us, we’re not putting too much weight on it yet. Based on its results, however, the Core i9 does win. Assuming some truth to the theory that a 3D artists need UI responsiveness more than shorter rendering wait times, Intel has the edge.

It's worth noting that even in a loss, Ryzen 9 3000 is not that far behind. And frankly, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, with slightly slower Viewport performance but much, much greater rendering performance, the Ryzen 9 comes out in front. It’s really up to the individual tastes of the artist.

Keep reading for content creation and other tests.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Fantastic multi-core performance and comparable single-threaded performance
    • Competes with far pricier CPUs
    • Native PCIe 4.0 support


    • PCIe 4 only when paired with newest motherboard chipset
    • Motherboards slightly more expensive than before
    • Slightly trails Intel in gaming performance
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