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V-Ray Next CPU Performance: Intel Core X-10000 vs AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen

Written on November 25, 2019 by William George
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Introduction

For years, choosing between Intel and AMD processors has been relatively straight forward. Intel held a strong lead in per-core performance, and combined with a moderate number of cores, that gave their processors an edge in lightly to moderately threaded applications. AMD excelled in pure core count, making them great for heavily threaded workloads, but with lower per-core performance and architectural design limitations that led to poor results in some situations. This changed quite a bit on the consumer side when AMD launched their 3rd gen Ryzen CPUs, but still held true when it came to the HEDT (High End Desktop) processors from both brands.

Now, both Intel and AMD are launching new HEDT processors that have the potential to shake things up dramatically!

On Intel's side, the new Core X-10000 series processors are only slightly faster than the previous generation - but Intel has cut their prices nearly in half. For example, while the MSRP of the Core i9 9980XE was $1,979 the new Core i9 10980XE is just $979.

On AMD's side, the new Threadripper 3rd Gen CPUs are actually a little more expensive than earlier models (by $100-200) but their raw performance is expected to be quite a bit better. The gains are not in core count, though, but rather in clock speed, performance per core, and architectural improvements that eliminate some bottlenecks that the first and second-generation Threadripper CPUs had.

Intel Core X-1000 series vs AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen in V-Ray Next Benchmark

For this article we are taking a look at how these new processors compare against each other, the previous generation they are replacing, and their mainstream desktop counterparts. The focus is on CPU-based rendering performance in V-Ray Next, so we are using Chaos Group's free V-Ray Next Benchmark. More info about this tool and how we used it are available in the Benchmark Details.

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

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Test Hardware

Here are the specifications of the different platforms we used for our testing:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3950X ($749)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X ($499)
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X ($399)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel 9th Gen Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9900K ($499)
Intel Core i7 9700K ($385)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper 2nd Gen Test Platform
CPU AMD TR 2990WX - DLM on ($1,799)
AMD TR 2970WX - DLM on ($1,299)
AMD TR 2950X ($899)
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
Motherboard Gigabyte X399 AORUS Xtreme
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Intel X-9000 Series Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9980XE ($1,979)
Intel Core i9 9960X ($1,684)​​​​​​​
Intel Core i9 9940X ($1,387)​​​​​​​
Intel Core i9 9920X ($1,189)​​​​​​​
Intel Core i9 9900X ($989)​​​​​​​
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen Test Platform
CPU AMD TR 3970X ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X ($1,399)
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Xtreme
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel X-10000 Series Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 10980XE ($979)
Intel Core i9 10940X ($784)
Intel Core i9 10920X ($689)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Intel Core i9 10900X ($590)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
V-Ray Next Benchmark 4.10.06

A quick note about memory specifications: the latest CPUs from AMD and Intel support varying speeds of RAM depending on how many modules are installed. In past articles, we've sometimes tested at multiple speeds, but to help keep things more uniform going forward we are standardizing on the speed that each processor/platform supports when all memory slots are used (even if we aren't filling them completely for our testing). Along with using the same total RAM capacity, that should help to keep results fair and consistent.

Benchmark Details

As previously mentioned, we used Chaos Group's V-Ray Next Benchmark for this comparison. It includes tests for both CPU-only and GPU+CPU rendering. This is somewhat novel, as most GPU rendering engines do not use the CPU at all, but in V-Ray Next they have implemented CUDA emulation on the CPU to improve performance a bit. Even the fastest CPU doesn't add as much performance in this mode as a single high-end video card, but who would turn down additional performance during renders for no added cost?

With the information we have gathered, then, we put together two charts. The first is the CPU's native performance when V-Ray Next is running in CPU mode, while the second is CPU performance when running in V-Ray Next GPU mode. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti card in the test systems has been excluded from these results, so you can see just the contribution that the processors provide in this mode.

Benchmark Results

There is a lot going on in the charts below, so before getting into it here is a reference key for the color scheme:

  • Light blue = Intel consumer CPUs (9th Gen Core series)
  • Dark blue = Intel HEDT CPUs (X-9000 series)
  • Dark blue with glow - NEW Intel HEDT CPUs (X-10000 series)
  • Light red = AMD consumer CPUs (Ryzen 3rd Gen)
  • Dark red = AMD HEDT CPUs (Threadripper 2nd Gen)
  • Dark red with glow - NEW AMD HEDT CPUs (Threadripper 3rd Gen)

Analysis

Comparing the new processors to the old, Intel's Core X are pretty much on par with their predecessors. If they were the same price I'd be wondering why they bothered making them, but given that they are charging half as much for similar performance this seems fine.

That isn't the big news here, though: the real story is AMD's tremendous performance increase compared to the previous Threadrippers. The 24-core 3960X is 40-50% faster than the 2970WX, while the 32-core 3970X is 45-75% faster than the 2990WX. Those are massive gains, and put AMD's new Threadripper chips at the top of these charts by a wide margin.

Is Intel X-10000 Series or AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen CPUs better for V-Ray?

AMD's 3rd generation Threadripper processors are the clear choice between these two lines for rendering in V-Ray, whether in CPU mode or to increase performance a bit when running primarily on GPUs (video cards). Intel's new Core X chips aren't bad, thanks to their new, lower prices - but remember to take the whole cost of a system into account when making decisions and not just the CPU alone.

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Tags: Intel 9th Gen, Intel X-series, Intel vs AMD, AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 2nd Gen, Intel X-10000, AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, Threadripper, V-Ray, CPU, Rendering
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