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Premiere Pro CC 2018: AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance

Written on September 19, 2018 by Matt Bach


The last time we did extensive benchmarking of AMD's Threadripper CPUs in Premiere Pro, they performed extremely well but just barely fell short of their Intel counterparts. With the launch of the new Threadripper 2990WX 32 core and the 2950X 16 core CPUs, however, it is time to give AMD another look to see if the relatively higher core counts of these CPUs will allow them to pull ahead of the Intel X-series CPUs. This will be very interesting to test as (counter to what many marketing departments want you to believe) more cores is not always better. In fact, it can be extremely difficult for developers to get their software to effectively use more than a handful of cores let alone the crazy number of cores on the new Threadripper 2990WX which can sometimes result in lower performance when you have more cores.

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

Test Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the test platforms we will be using in our testing:

To thoroughly benchmark each processor, we used a range of codecs across 4K, 6K, and 8K resolutions:

Codec Resolution FPS Camera Clip Name Source
CinemaDNG 4608x2592 24 FPS Ursa Mini 4K Interior Office Blackmagic Design
[Direct Download]
RED 4096x2304
29.97 FPS RED ONE MYSTERIUM A004_C186_011278_001 RED
Sample R3D Files
RED 6144x3077
23.976 FPS WEAPON 6K S005_L001_0220LI_001 RED
Sample R3D Files
RED 8192x4320
25 FPS WEAPON 8K S35 B001_C096_0902AP_001 RED
Sample R3D Files
ProRes 422 HQ
ProRes 4444
3940x2160 29.97 FPS Transcoded from RED 4K clip

Rather than just timing a simple export and calling it a day, we decided to create six different timelines for each codec that represent a variety of different type of workloads. For each of these timelines we tested both Live Playback performance in the program monitor as well as exporting via AME with the "H.264 - High Quality 2160p 4K" and "DNxHR HQ UHD" (matching media FPS) presets.

Lumetri Color

Heavy Transitions

Heavy Effects

4 Track Picture in Picture

4 Track MultiCam

4 Track Heavy Trimming

Live Playback - Raw Benchmark Results

[Click Here] to skip ahead to analysis section

Live Playback - Benchmark Analysis

After looking through our results, one thing that stood out to us was that the AMD Threadripper and Intel X-series CPUs appear to perform differently depending on whether the media we used was RED or not. Since this was a pretty big factor, we decided to look at the results depending on whether we were using RED media or non-RED media.

The "Live Playback Score" shown in the chart above is a representation of the average performance we saw with each processor for this test. In essence, a score of "80" would mean that on average that CPU was able to play our timelines at 80% of the tested media's FPS. A perfect score would be "100" which would mean that the system did not drop any frames even with the most difficult codecs and timelines.

There is some very interesting data here, but we will start with the results when using RED media. Here, we saw pretty good performance from the Intel CPUs, but the AMD Threadripper CPUs were a decent amount faster. At the highest-end (i9 7980XE vs TR 2990WX), Threadripper was only about 5% faster but with a more mid-range CPU (i9 7900X vs TR 2950X), Threadripper was about 14% faster.

The results with non-RED media are a bit more interesting. With few exceptions, the power of the CPU didn't make much of a difference but what did make a difference was whether the CPU was Intel or AMD. Where the Intel CPUs all scored around 90-95 points, most of the Threadripper CPUs scored around 87 points while the 2990WX only scored 80 points.

What this means is that while AMD Threadripper looks to be about 5-15% faster than Intel for RED media, the Intel X-series are about 5-10% faster for non-RED media.

AME Export - Raw Benchmark Results

[Click Here] to skip ahead to analysis section

Export with "H.264 - High Quality 2160P 4K" Preset

Export with "DNxHR HQ UHD" (matching media FPS) Preset

AME Export - Benchmark Analysis

Once again starting with the results with RED media, at the highest-end (i9 7980XE vs TR 2990WX) Intel ended up being about 4% faster. This is actually almost exactly the opposite of the live playback result where TR was 5% faster. With a more mid-range CPU (i9 7900X vs TR 2950X), however, Threadripper was just shy of 25% faster!

With non-RED media, the results are pretty similar. At the high-end, the 7980XE is about 6% faster than the 2990WX while at the mid-range the 2950X is about 19% faster than the 7900X.

If export performance is a big consideration, your choice of CPU is a bit interesting. At anything other than the highest-end, you should get quite a bit more performance from a Threadripper CPU compared to an Intel X-series. But if you are looking to get the best possible performance, the Intel Core i9 7980XE will be slightly faster than Threadripper.

Is Threadripper 2 good for Premiere Pro?

AMD's Threadripper 2 CPUs are definitely great choices for Premiere Pro, but whether they are better than the Intel X-series really depends on the type of media you work with. Overall, we would recommend Threadripper 2 if you work with RED media, but the Intel X-series may be a slightly better choice if you work with other types of media.

AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Premiere Pro CC 2018 Benchmark

The chart above really doesn't tell the whole story since it is simply an overall compilation of all the live playback and Adobe Media Encoder results. To really solve the Intel vs AMD question, there are three primary comparisons we should be looking at based on the rough price of each CPU:

AMD Threadripper 2990WX vs Intel Core i9 7980XE for Premiere Pro CC

In most situations, we would give the edge to the Core i9 7980XE. For live playback, it does lag behind the 2990WX by about 5% if you use RED media, but it is 13% faster if you use any other type of media. For exporting, the 7980XE will be roughly 5% faster than the 2990WX regardless of the codec.

AMD Threadripper 2950X vs Intel Core i9 7900X for Premiere Pro CC

Here, the Threadripper 2950X is often going to be the better choice. For live playback, the 2950X is about 5% slower than the 7900X for non-RED media, but if you use RED footage it is about 15% faster. When it comes to exporting, the 2950X is about 20-25% faster than the 7900X.

AMD Threadripper 1920X vs Intel Core i7 7820X for Premiere Pro CC

This is actually very similar to the 2950X vs 7900X comparison. For live playback, the 1920X is about 6% slower than the 7820X for non-RED media, but if you use RED footage it is about 17% faster. For exporting, the 1920X is about 22% faster with RED media or 12% faster with non-RED media.

If we had to declare a winner between the Intel X-series and AMD Threadripper CPUs for Premiere Pro, Threadripper definitely takes first place. But the Intel X-series CPU are definitely a close second. Which one you should use is going to come down to the type of media you work with and how important live playback performance is to you. Threadripper has an easy win if you care about performance when exporting or if you use RED footage, but for live playback with non-RED media Intel is going to be faster. Since live playback tends to be the one area that most Premiere Pro users complain about, the ~5% higher performance from Intel (plus the fact that the Intel CPUs will typically be quieter than Threadripper) may be enough to sway many users in that direction.

Choosing the right CPU for your system is a complicated topic, and Premiere Pro is likely just one of many programs you use every day. If you want to see how the 2990WX and 2950X fare in other applications, we recommend checking out some of our other recent Threadripper articles.

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Tags: Premiere Pro, Threadripper, 2990WX, 1950X, 2950X, Core i7, Core i9, 8700K, 7820X, 7900X, 7920X, 7940X, 7960X, 7980XE