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DaVinci Resolve Studio - AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series CPU Performance

Written on February 19, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series performance in DaVinci Resolve

Overall, we are very impressed with the AMD Threadripper Pro processors. Even in terms of straight performance (which is not the primary draw of this platform), the Threadripper Pro CPUs we tested were in most cases on par with the slightly higher clocked Threadripper CPUs. But in certain situations, Threadripper Pro was actually up to 60% faster! This higher performance was only present in a few select situations, but when it is a factor, it is a very big factor.

Compared to Intel's Xeon W-3200 line, it isn't much of a contest. Not to mention the higher RAM capacity and PCIe lanes, Threadripper Pro is also massively faster in DaVinci Resolve. The amount varies based on which models you are looking at, but Threadripper Pro ranges anywhere from 18% to 30% faster than Intel Xeon W-3200.

Keep in mind that this is only talking about performance which really isn't the primary draw of workstation products like Threadripper Pro. The 2TB of RAM capacity may not be a factor for DaVinci Resolve, but the extra memory channels definitely do appear to improve performance. Even more important is the 128 PCIe Gen4 lanes since it is not uncommon for DaVinci Resolve workstations to have multiple GPUs, network cards, NVMe drives, and other PCIe devices in the system. 128 lanes are more than any desktop workstation is going to be able to utilize even with an EATX motherboard, which effectively means you never have to worry about how many PCIe lanes you have available when using Threadripper Pro.

Introduction

Over the last four years, AMD has been pushing the boundaries of CPU performance - steadily increasing core count and improving per-core performance with their Ryzen and Threadripper lines of processors. In addition to these mainstream areas, they have also been competing with Intel in the server world with their EPYC line.

With the launch of Threadripper Pro, AMD is now also breaking into the "workstation" space. For workstation products, straight CPU performance is not typically the most significant factor, but rather it is things like memory and PCIe capability that sets it apart from a consumer or enthusiast CPU. And in these areas, in particular, Threadripper Pro has a number of advantages over the normal Threadripper CPUs including eight-channel memory support (which maxes out at 2TB of total RAM) and 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4. Workstation products like this are also typically more reliable and include manageability features that can be important for some users.

If you want to read about what sets Threadripper Pro apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for Threadripper Pro.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series for DaVinci Resolve Studio

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new AMD Threadripper Pro CPUs in DaVinci Resolve Studio compared to a range of CPUs including the AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen and Intel Xeon-W lines, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5950X. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and several other applications available on our article listing page.

If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion.

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core ($799)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Intel Xeon W Test Platform
CPU Intel Xeon W-3265 24 Core ($3,349)
Intel Xeon W-3245 16 Core ($1,999)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Asus Pro WS C621-64L SAGE-10G Series
RAM 6x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (96GB total)
AMD Threadripper 3000 Series Platform
CPU AMD TR 3990X 64 Core ($3,990)
AMD TR 3970X 32 Core ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X 24 Core ($1,399)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper PRO 3000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD TR Pro 3995WX 64 Core ($5,489)
AMD TR Pro 3975WX 32 Core ($2,749)
AMD TR Pro 3955WX 16 Core ($1,149)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Asus Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI
RAM 8x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (128GB total)
Shared PC Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Hard Drive Samsung 970 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Ver. 2009)
DaVinci Resolve Studio (Ver. 16.2.8)
PugetBench for DaVinci Resolve (Ver. 0.92.1)

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of Feb 1st, 2021

To see how well the Threadripper Pro CPUs perform, we are primarily going to be comparing them to the AMD Threadripper (non-Pro) processors. However, we will also be including the AMD Ryzen 5950X 16 Core CPU (to act as a core-to-core comparison for the Threadripper Pro 3955WX 16 Core CPU) as well as two of Intel's Xeon-W processors to see how AMD compares to Intel's workstation CPUs. There is a higher-end processor that Intel makes (the Xeon W-3275), but we, unfortunately, did not have access to one at the time of this testing. But as you will see throughout this article, that isn't a big deal because the Xeon W CPUs do not fare particularly well versus Threadripper Pro.

While most of the specs are as similar as we can make them across each test platform, the one thing we did vary was the number of RAM sticks and whether they were Reg. ECC or not. Essentially, we used Reg. ECC when supported by the platform (Xeon W and Threadripper Pro), and matched the number of sticks to the number of memory channels supported by the CPU and motherboard. This meant using 8 sticks for Threadripper Pro (8 channel), 6 sticks for Xeon W (6 channel), and 4 sticks for Threadripper (quad channel). The only exception to this rule is the AMD Ryzen platform where we used 4 sticks even though it is only dual channel.

Raw Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide the individual results for you to examine. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, examining the raw results for that task is going to be much more applicable than the scores that our benchmark calculated.

Feel free to skip to the next sections for our analysis of these results to get a wider view of how each configuration performs.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series DaVinci Resolve Studio Benchmark Results

Overall DaVinci Resolve Performance Analysis

Even before starting our testing, we knew that Threadripper Pro would do very well against the Intel Xeon W-3200 processors. The big unknown, however, was how they would stack up against the Threadripper (non-Pro) processors. While Threadripper Pro does have more memory channels than Threadripper, the maximum boost clocks are a bit lower. These two factors may simply cancel each other out, or one can end up being more important depending on how the application we are testing behaves.

In actuality, Threadripper Pro does very well in DaVinci Resolve, with the TR Pro 3995WX 64 Core and 3975WX 32 Core scoring about 8% higher than the 3990X 64 Core and 3970X 32 Core respectively. The 3955WX 16 Core did perform a bit under the Threadripper 3960X 24 Core, although that is to be expected as it is less expensive than the 3960X and has fewer CPU cores. The 3955WX did do well versus the Ryzen 5950X (which has the same number of cores), however, scoring about 9% higher overall.

Finally, compared to the Intel Xeon W-3200 CPUs we had available for testing, Threadripper Pro doesn't even allow it to be a contest. It is hard to do a direct comparison since the pricing for Threadripper Pro and Xeon W does not line up very well, but comparing the Threadripper Pro 3975WX ($2,749) to the slightly more expensive Intel Xeon W-3265 ($3,349), the TR Pro 3975WX is a massive 33% faster overall. No matter how you slice it, Threadripper Pro is going to be significantly faster than the Intel Xeon W-3200 series processors in Premiere Pro.

However, one thing we want to note is that in most of our tests, Threadripper and Threadripper Pro were actually about on par with each other. The higher overall score is largely due to a handful of tests where Threadripper Pro was greatly faster (we are talking 30-60% faster!) that pulled up the scores:

Closer Look - Render to DNxHR

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro DaVinci Resolve Render Performance

After going through the raw results in more detail, we found that there were four specific tests where Threadripper Pro greatly exceeded expectations - namely a number of the tests where we are measuring performance when rendering to DNxHR HQ. We are not completely sure why Threadripper Pro did so well on these tests, and why it only occurred on four of the eight DNxHR tests, but the results were consistent and repeatable.

On these four tests, the 3995WX and 3975WX were able to render anywhere from 12% to 61% faster than the 3990X and 3970X. It is possible that this kind of performance gain would occur in other situations if we had more GPU power in the system, but either way, this is a good sign that the extra memory channels and other "behind the scenes" improvements can make a substantial difference in DaVinci Resolve.

How well do the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro CPUs perform in DaVinci Resolve Studio?

Overall, we are very impressed with the AMD Threadripper Pro processors. Even in terms of straight performance (which is not the primary draw of this platform), the Threadripper Pro CPUs we tested were in most cases on par with the slightly higher clocked Threadripper CPUs. But in certain situations, Threadripper Pro was actually up to 60% faster! This higher performance was only present in a few select situations, but when it is a factor, it is a very big factor.

Compared to Intel's Xeon W-3200 line, it isn't much of a contest. Threadripper Pro has higher memory capacity (unless you invest in the very expensive Xeon W "M" models), more memory channels, and twice the number of PCI-E lanes - which are also Gen4 to boot. In addition to all of this, Threadripper Pro is also massively faster in DaVinci Resolve. It is hard to compare Threadripper Pro to Intel Xeon W-3200 since the pricing doesn't line up well, but in general, we would say that you can expect about 30% higher performance in DaVinci Resolve with Threadripper Pro.

Keep in mind that this is only talking about performance which really isn't the primary draw of workstation products like Threadripper Pro. Higher reliability and Reg. ECC memory support is always good, and the extra memory channels can improve performance depending on the specific workload. Even more important is the 128 PCIe Gen4 lanes since it is not uncommon for DaVinci Resolve workstations to have multiple GPUs, network cards, NVMe drives, and other PCIe devices in the system.

128 lanes are actually more than any desktop workstation is going to be able to utilize even with an EATX motherboard, but it effectively means you never have to worry about how many PCIe lanes you have available when using Threadripper Pro. We only tested with a single GPU in this article, but we do have planned a round of testing to see how Threadripper Pro performs with multiple GPUs in the near future.

Really, the only downside to Threadripper Pro is the price, but with these CPUs, even the cost is very reasonable for what you get. Motherboards will likely be more expensive as well, but for the CPUs themselves, you are only looking at a price premium of about $24 per core over Threadripper. Since there are so many cores, that can still be up to a $1,500 price bump with the 64 core model, but in exchange for the higher performance and all the other benefits, Threadripper Pro is a solid investment.

Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for DaVinci Resolve Studio and that performance will vary widely in different applications (or even versus the free edition of Resolve). If your workflow includes other software packages (we have similar articles for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and more), you need to consider how the system will perform in those applications as well. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles to keep up to date on how all of these software packages - and more - perform with the latest CPUs.

Looking for a DaVinci Resolve Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5950X, DaVinci Resolve, AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series, 3960X, 3970X, Threadripper 3990X, 3955WX, 3975WX, 3995WX, W-3245, W-3265
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