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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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Puget Systems offers a range of workstations that are tailor-made for your unique workflow. Our goal is to provide the most effective and reliable system possible so you can concentrate on your work and not worry about your computer.

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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
luke

Ok so what is the best investment for active work and rendering...3950x, 3960x or 3970x

Posted on 2019-11-25 14:30:13
Misha Engel

That will depend on how you use your computer(s).
For us it will be 3x 3950x and 1x 3970x as a replacement for 4 old i7-3960x's(they served us well for many years).

Posted on 2019-11-25 15:57:32
luke

Heavy highpoly modeling in 3dsmax, cloth and particle simulations, rendering in Corona, Zbrush modeling, adobe photoshop, adobe premie, adobe aftereffects. So I need do it all workstation!

Posted on 2019-11-25 16:15:42

For absolutely do-it-all? Man, it is hard to go wrong with any of those... mostly depends on budget. The Threadrippers will be better for rendering and Premiere Pro, while the Ryzen 9 will be a little better for the interactive stuff (modeling, photo editing, etc). They are all really good, though, so I'd say let it come down to your budget and get the one that best fits that.

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:10:17
luke

I Budget isn't an issue since I've been waiting for 7nm for some time so I gathered enough funds to go even 32 cores TH. The thing that worries me is the power hunger of TH. Let's say I do a bit more of modeling and does it mean that it will draw all that crazy power, or it's only during some heavier tasks?

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:21:05

Power draw should scale, at least somewhat, with CPU load. When doing modeling and such only a few cores will be active, so CPU power draw should be far below maximum. I haven't tested that myself, but AnandTech did:

https://www.anandtech.com/s...

Hopefully that helps :)

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:27:54
luke

I read that there is option now to turn off cores right? So maybe this way I could also save energy when needed?

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:34:56

I haven't heard of that, outside of being able to turn off cores in the BIOS (which has been a thing on many motherboards for years). But really, that shouldn't be necessary: the system will load up cores as needed, and power consumption will follow. Unless you are in a situation where you are running off batteries or something else has you severely limited on power usage I wouldn't worry about it. Assuming you are connected to the normal power grid, even if the CPU was running at full-tilt all day long (24 hours) that is only going to be 6-7 kWh of power usage from the processor, which should only be like $1-2 depending on where you are located.

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:43:16
luke

oh, thank you William, I guess it's 32 then :)

Posted on 2019-11-25 18:46:29
psy

luke, before you spend your savings, my sincere advice would be, if possible, do some in-software, actual plugin usage in your host package using both AMD and Intel's offerings. High chance that you might be surprised how much difference there is in the results that you see in Vray's benchmark versus the actual plugin that you'll be using. I appreciate Puget Systems a lot more than the youtubers but given my experience with the 2 1950x and a 2950 I got for our little VFX animation shop running mostly X79 and x299 setups, I no longer trust standalone benchmark results and unlikely that i'll ever be buying AMD again.

Posted on 2019-11-25 20:46:54
Misha Engel

1950x and the 2950x are NUMA, the new 3960x and 3970x are UMA, have enhanced AVX2, uniform latency, double the cache, support faster memory, etc...
https://www.nextplatform.com/2019/08/15/a-deep-dive-into-amds-rome-epyc-architecture/
An AIO 360 cooler is not a luxury with the new threadrippers, the cooler they are, the faster they run at the same 280Watt (they react the same to temperature as GPU's).

Posted on 2019-11-25 23:04:08

The previous 1st and 2nd gen Threadrippers were a whole different beast under the hood. They had a lot of issues with anything that wasn't extremely well threaded with very little need for memory access. Just look at how poorly they performed in the charts above compared to the new stuff (I didn't include 1st gen TR, but there are three of the 2nd gen models in this roundup). The one downside is that it is a new chipset, so you can't just drop in the 3rd gen processors on your existing systems :(

Posted on 2019-11-25 23:07:52
Eastman

That's only if you can get your hands on a 3950x... They're out of stock everywhere.

Posted on 2019-12-03 12:22:23
ComputahNerd

It seems threadripper has come a long way since gen.1 which I owned and sold quickly as it had serious issues in single core performance. But I'm curious about cooling. How hard was it to keep the 3970x under the recommended 68 celcius while under full load? From all the benchmark tests I've seen they reach above 70 degrees. On my 1950x when reaching above 70 degrees it would eventually freeze up while rendering because of overheat - so I'm very cautious not to make a failed investment again - and very curious if the CPU becomes unstable. Actually both ram and cooling was a huge issue with 1950x along with a ton of other problems of course.

Posted on 2019-11-28 08:32:13

We didn't do thermal monitoring during this performance testing, as that aspect of hardware evaluation is handled by our product qualification team. They are working on Threadripper now, since we know it performs well in several of our target applications and want to carry it. I expect they will also be evaluating some different cooling options, but I am not sure what their specific target temperature under load is... I know Intel chips are fine up to much higher temperatures than 68-70C, but AMD may be different.

Posted on 2019-11-29 19:59:33
ComputahNerd

Thanks, yes this is my concern. As AMD states on their website that the Threadripper has max temp on 68 degrees (same for all 3 gens) and not a single benchmark test on youtube has shown the CPU below 70-80 degrees I would imagine it would be hard to keep this CPU cold. Now I don't know at which point it starts throttle or if the AMDs recommended temp is just a ideal number but not written in stone. But because of bad experiences on previous threadrippers (which required to be below 70 to not crash), I for one would love it if you guys considered release a report of your temperature findings. It seems like a though beast to tame. Once again I must say I truly appreciate the work you guys do, you are the only one that put hardware through tests that actually matters for content creators. Much appreciated!

Posted on 2019-11-30 13:27:36