AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU was very special. It was a fitting tribute to the long-lasting AM4 platform, and its 3D V-Cache design made it much better at games than other Ryzen 5000 processors.
Now, its first two replacements, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D and 7900X3D, are trying to capture the same magic. In April, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D will be available. All three should be very good, but can they beat Intel’s 13900K and win the best gaming crown?
And will Ryzen 7000’s bigger L3 cache be as important as it was for Ryzen 5000, which had a more powerful socket, faster DDR5 RAM, and a more advanced way of making chips? To find out, we tested the top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which has 16 Zen 4 cores and 3D V-Cache and costs £699/$699, the same as the original 7950X.
Before we talk about benchmarks for making content and playing games, we should talk about what makes the 7950X3D’s hardware so interesting. Ryzen CPUs have always been made with a chiplet design, with low- to mid-range parts using a single chiplet, which AMD calls a “CCD”, with up to eight cores and high-end parts using two chiplets. The same goes for the 7950X3D.
The main difference is that the 7950X3D is not built the same way on both sides. One of its chiplets gets the 3D V-Cache upgrade at the cost of a small drop in maximum frequency. The other chiplet, which is based on the 7950X, keeps the smaller cache size and maximum frequency of the 7950X.
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AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D Review
AMD’s risky plan to make a processor that is the best for both work and games is almost working. It has shown again how well AMD’s 3D V-cache technology works to make its processors better at playing games. It has also given the chiplets an asymmetrical layout, which should work well for creative uses.
But AMD’s claim that “one processor can do it all” isn’t quite true. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is an expensive gaming processor that falls just a little short of its now-cheaper 16-core predecessor when it comes to CPU-intensive tasks, but it clearly beats it in terms of gaming frame rate.
But as a high-end gaming processor, it wins in terms of both raw performance and efficiency. The 7950X3D doesn’t use nearly as much power as its brother, the Zen 4 7950X, which doesn’t have cache, or the Intel Raptor Lake chips, which use a lot of power.
It also has a higher frame rate per watt than both the Intel Core i9 13900K and the non-cached Zen 4 7950X. Its gaming skills and how well the 3D V-cache tech works shine through at lower resolutions, but not just at 1080p and lower.
Even when paired with an Nvidia RTX 4090, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D can get higher frame rates from the system as a whole than either AMD or Intel competitors. Even at the highest 1440p setting, this is still true.
But at 4K, where most high-end gaming systems will spend most of their time, there isn’t much difference between this new AMD chip and Intel’s i9 13900K. At this point, almost all of the work is up to the graphics card.
But it’s enough to know that of all the CPUs on the market today, this is the one that is most likely to get the best performance from an expensive graphics card. In the end, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is almost certainly the best gaming CPU on the market, even though its name isn’t always accurate in the real world.
AMD also makes two other X3D chips: the Ryzen 9 7900X3D, which is also asymmetrical, and the Ryzen 7 7800X3D, which only has one chiplet. Both will give you better 3D V-cache gaming performance, probably with the same increase in speed, but for less money. Because its raw CPU performance isn’t as good outside of games, this $699 processor might only be interesting to a small group of people.
The Specs and Architecture
With this version of its 3D V-cache technology, AMD is trying to do just what the new 7950X3D shows. In the Zen 3 generation of chips that came before, there was only one SKU, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which had a single eight-core chiplet with extra cache stacked on top.
Because of this, the compute die had to have its power and clock speed slowed down. When a piece of extra silicon is bonded to a Zen chiplet that has been thinned down to fit the standard height of the package, you can’t push it as hard to get its final performance numbers.
The 7950X3D is doing the same thing. Again, AMD is giving an eight-core chiplet (this time a Zen 4 one) an extra 64MB of L3 cache to double its last-level cache to 128MB. It also has to limit the clock speed of that chiplet because it’s even more important that it’s the same height as a regular Ryzen 7000-series CPU.
Because the package has two chiplets this time. But AMD made the smart decision to limit the 3D V-cache to just one of them. The second one is the same as it is on the standard Ryzen 9 7950X. It’s smart because it saves money.
But it also means that on one side of the CPU, there can be eight Zen 4 cores that work best for apps that need memory with low latency, and on the other side, there can be eight cores that run at a peak clock speed frequency that the other eight can’t reach. So, the best choice for games is the stacked chiplet, while the best choice for apps that just need raw processing power is the standard chiplet. That does, however, depend on the software.
Benchmarks And Performance
Based on what I’ve read about AMD’s top Zen 4 processor, its gaming performance seems to be exactly what I’d hope for. When it comes to standard frame rates in games, it is clearly faster than both the original 7950X and Intel’s Core i9 13900K.
It’s faster everywhere, even in games where Intel processors used to be better. The gaming lead looks even better when you look at how well it works per watt and how much heat it makes. Using our standard Far Cry 6 frame rates per watt benchmark, the 7950X3D is 86% more efficient than the previous best AMD processor and 54% more efficient than the 13900K.
This is a good sign for making computers for gaming that are quiet or take up little space. But the problem with that asymmetrical chiplet design becomes clear when you look at the raw CPU performance in more dedicated productivity tasks.
If you look at benchmarks for rendering, it is usually behind both of the other chips. But the efficiency gains are clear even when the traditional CPU cores are used to their fullest. If we want to talk about how AMD thinks this is the best gaming processor, we need to look at more than just 1080p gaming.
For CPU game benchmarking, we usually test at this lower resolution so we can see the difference in performance all the way down to the processors. As the resolution goes up, you end up depending more and more on the power of the graphics card, to the point where you can’t really tell the difference between chip architectures in terms of performance.
High-end CPUs for games will always be a moving target. It’s usually a name that can only be given based on theoretical frame rates or performance numbers based on low-end resolutions that you’d never use. But the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D makes that more likely than it was before.
When the highest graphics settings are used, it is clear that it is faster at both 1440p and 1080p. So, this top AMD chip is a much better choice if you want to spend $1,600 on a high-end graphics card. As a super-enthusiast, it’s nice to know that the 7950X3D will give you the best chance of getting the most performance out of your expensive GPU.
For someone like this, the increased efficiency is probably less important, but the X3D chip looks like the kind of processor we should put in our computers because it uses less power and makes games run better.
At a time when high-end CPUs usually use a lot more power than lower-end ones, it’s great and very impressive that the new AMD processors use less power. The raw processing power has been seen to drop since the stacked 3D cache memory chip, which is made for games, was added.
Only one of its chiplets can work at full power, so it’s not quite the one chip to rule them all when it comes to gaming and work. So, if you make content and aren’t too interested in gaming, the standard Ryzen 9 7950X or Intel Core i9 13900K will be more interesting to you.
AMD is ready to go up against Intel’s powerful Raptor Lake processor. This processor in the Ryzen 7000 “Zen 4” family has the most recent updates. It has 16 cores and 32 threads, which is a lot. It also has 3D Vertical Cache technology.
The people who made it say that it is better than the Core i9-13900K in both gaming and work, which makes it the most powerful desktop processor you can buy from AMD. The best part is that it will be sold for the same MSRP of $700 as the standard 7950X, which is now $50–$75 cheaper on the market.
It will also still work with Socket AM5 motherboards, but you’ll need to use the most recent BIOS and drivers. When AMD came out with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D 8-core/16-thread processor in 2022, the 3D Vertical Cache technology showed how useful it was.
It made the processor’s gaming performance as good as the fastest Intel processor at the time, the i9-12900K “Alder Lake,” even though it was based on the “Zen 3” architecture, which was a generation older. By itself, the architecture of “Zen 4” is the same as that of “Alder Lake.”
But without 3D Vertical Cache, it was found that “Zen 4” wasn’t as good as “Raptor Lake” when it came to video games. Now, everyone is waiting for 3D Vertical Cache to do its magic again and put “Zen 4” on the same level as “Raptor Lake,” so you can once again choose between the two brands.
Even though the older 5800X3D could play games just as well as the i9-12900K, it had fewer CPU cores, so the “Alder Lake” was much faster at doing work on multiple threads at the same time. AMD didn’t want to reduce the number of cores this time, so they added 3D Vertical Cache to Ryzen 7000X3D models with 16, 12, and 8 cores.