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Ryzen XT and Core i9 10850K for Rendering: Are They Worth It?

Written on July 27, 2020 by William George
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TL;DR: Are the Ryzen XT and i9 10850K any better or worse for rendering?

AMD's new Ryzen "XT" processors and Intel's new Core i9 10850K are so close in performance to the original models that there should be no perceptible difference in real-world usage. Our advice, for each pair of chips, is to get whichever is more affordable and readily available.

None of these are the best or fastest CPUs for rendering, though: that honor goes to AMD's Threadripper 3rd Gen lineup.

Introduction

Most CPU launches include a lot of rumors, leaks, and fanfare - with reviewers rushing to get content out, system integrators updating their product lines, and enthusiasts doing everything they can to get their hands on one of the new models. The latest processors from AMD and Intel, however, lack almost all of that.

Rather than a new product generation, what we are getting this time around is a handful of very minor updates. From AMD, the new Ryzen 3600XT, 3800XT, and 3900XT are a small step up from the existing "X" models - but as far as the specs go, the only real difference is a 100-200MHz increase in the Max Boost Clock. In theory that could boost performance by as much as 2-4%.

On the other side, Intel actually released a slightly slower model - presumably to help alleviate some of the supply issues with the Core i9 10900K. The new Core i9 10850K is essentially the same as the 10900K, only with 100MHz lower base and Maximum Turbo Boost clock speeds. This should translate to around a 2-3% drop in performance, at least in theory.

Core
Count
Base
Clock
Max
Boost/Turbo
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6 3.8 GHz 4.4 GHz
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 6 3.8 GHz 4.5 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 8 3.9 GHz 4.5 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT 8 3.9 GHz 4.7 GHz
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12 3.8 GHz 4.6 GHz
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT 12 3.8 GHz 4.7 GHz
Intel Core i9 10900K 10 3.7 GHz 5.3 GHz
Intel Core i9 10850K 10 3.6 GHz 5.2 GHz

As far as pricing goes, the AMD Ryzen "XT" CPUs actually have the same MSRP as the normal "X" models. The older models are often on sale, though, so at the moment the "XT" models are effectively a bit more expensive (~$50 more as of this publication). The Intel Core i9 10850K, on the other hand, comes with a slight reduction in price (~$40) compared to the 10900K.

All-told, this means that between the slightly different models from Intel and AMD, you can effectively think of it as paying $50 more for 100-200MHz higher clock speeds. Or, if you want to look at it another way: saving $50 in exchange for the slightly lower frequency.

The question is: does this tiny difference in clock speed even matter? While certainly important, the frequency (either base or Boost/Turbo) is just one factor in what determines the real-world performance of a processor. To answer that question, within the context of CPU-based rendering, we have run all of these chips through multiple rendering benchmarks.

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Test Setup

The details of our testbed systems for each processor platform are listed below:

AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen Test Platform
CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT ($499)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X ($499)
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT ($399)
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X ($399)
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT ($249)
AMD Ryzen 5 3600* ($199)

* We don't have a 3600X available

CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel 10th Gen Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 10900K ($488)
Intel Core i9 10850K ($459)
Intel Core i7 10700K ($374)
Intel Core i5 10600K ($262)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 Vision D
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
(Set to 2666MHz for 10600K testing)
Shared PC Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 2004)
Cinebench R20 & R15
V-Ray Next & V-Ray Benchmark

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of July 20th, 2020

In order to see how each of these CPUs perform in CPU-based rendering applications, we ran the following tests:

  • Cinebench R20
  • Cinebench R15
  • V-Ray Next Benchmark 4.10.06
  • V-Ray Benchmark 1.0.8

Each benchmark was run twice per CPU, and the faster of the two results is included below. That method does slightly complicate things with the Intel processors, though, as these new 10th Gen Core models have multiple power limits which can substantially impact performance. This isn't completely new, but it is more pronounced with this generation of processors... and it leads to short-term boosts in performance when a processor first gets under load which then drops off after a while. As such, the first run of each benchmark test on the 10900K and 10850K scored substantially higher than their second runs. If anything, this may make those Intel processors look better than they should when compared to AMD's models - because in longer workloads (which would include most real-life rendering situations) most of the processing time would be spent at the lower power limits and thus enjoy reduced performance. I may cover this topic in more depth in a later blog post, but I wanted to make sure readers were at least made aware of it here.

Benchmark Results

We'll start off with the results for Cinebench, which tests the rendering of a single scene in Cinema 4D's built-in engine:

And similarly, here are the charts showing results for the various V-Ray and V-Ray Next benchmark tests:

Analysis & Conclusion

The results above line up almost exactly with what we predicted, based on the small clock speed differences. The Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT are 1-2% faster than the 3800X and 3900X, respectively. The Ryzen 5 3600XT sees more of a gain over the vanilla 3600, but that is in part because we didn't have a 3600X to test... so the clock speed difference is more pronounced between these models. Similarly, on Intel's side of things, the new Core i9 10850K is 0-3% slower than the 10900K - right in line with our predictions.

AMD's new Ryzen "XT" processors and Intel's new Core i9 10850K are so close in performance to the original models that there should be no perceptible difference in real-world usage. Our advice, for each pair of chips, is to get whichever is more affordable and readily available. None of these are the best or fastest CPUs for rendering, though: that honor goes to AMD's Threadripper 3rd Gen lineup.

AMD Ryzen 3800XT/3900XT vs 3800X/3900X for Rendering

Given that the AMD Ryzen "XT" models only have a small 100-200MHz increase in maximum Boost frequency compared to the "X" models, we didn't expect to see much of an increase in performance... and we were right. Across all of our rendering benchmarks, the 3900XT and 3800XT only performed 1-2% faster than the previous 3900X and 3800X models, respectively.

If you can get these new XT versions for the same price as the older X models, then great - but if not, the fractional difference in performance is probably not worth paying more for. It is also worth noting, if you are building your own system, that the new XT models do not include a CPU cooler (not that I'd advise using the stock AMD coolers, personally, but this difference could impact those looking to build on a budget).

Intel Core i9 10850K vs Core i9 10900K for Rendering

While the Intel Core i9 10850K has a $40 lower MSRP compared to the Intel Core i9 10900K, you don't give up much in the way of performance. Cinebench showed a 2-3% drop in rendering speed, while V-Ray showed a similar drop in CPU-based rendering and no difference in GPU emulation mode.

Supply of the Intel Core i9 10900K processors is very limited, which is partly why Intel launched the Core i9 10850K in the first place, so if you are considering purchasing or building a new system with either of these CPUs we recommend going with whichever one you can get your hands on. You are unlikely to notice the small difference in real-world usage, so there no reason to hold out for one or the other unless the savings available from the 10850K is enough to alter what other specs you can afford.

Rendering Workstations

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 Ryzen 3rd Gen, Intel 10th Gen, i9 10900K, i7 10700K, i5 10600K, i9 10850K, Ryzen 5 3600, Ryzen 5 3600XT, Ryzen 7 3800X, Ryzen 7 3800XT, Ryzen 9 3900X, Ryzen 9 3900XT, Cinema4D, V-Ray, Rendering, Render, CPU, Intel, AMD, Cinebench, Cinema, 4D
El James

Hi! Awesome article!

Im planning to create davinci resolve computer, with some "future proof"... But deciding between 3700x and 3800XT.

Also, would you recommend watercooling? Thanks!

Posted on 2020-08-14 19:11:38

For more info on performance in Resolve, I would recommend looking at some of our articles that focus on that application. Here is one that is a little older, but includes the 3700X and 3800X (and the XT is just a hair faster most of the time, as shown above):

https://www.pugetsystems.co...

It looks like those two CPUs you are considering will perform very similarly, so if the money you would save with the 3700X would let you upgrade other components it might be worth going that direction. Or if you can swing an upgrade to the 3900X (or XT) that would be even better, but more expensive.

As for cooling, none of those CPUs should need water cooling; I would just stick with a nice air-cooler, personally.

Posted on 2020-08-14 19:17:33