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TL;DR: Are the Ryzen XT and i9 10850K worth it for Adobe CC?
AMD's new 3600/3800/3900XT models might be a hair faster on paper, but in Adobe Creative Cloud, they provide effectively the same performance as the current "X" models. At most, they are 1-2% faster which is within the margin of error for our benchmarks.
The Intel Core i9 10850K, however, is a bit slower than the Core i9 10900K (as it's specs and price indicate) – but only by at most 3%.
Overall, these new models from AMD and Intel can be considered to be the same as their "normal" counterparts. There is no reason to worry about using them; but no reason not to, either.
For most CPU launches, there is typically a lot of 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 CPU models from AMD and Intel, however, lack almost all of that.
Rather than a major update, what we are getting this time around is a handful of (extremely) minor changes. From AMD, the new Ryzen 3600XT, 3800XT, and 3900XT are a small step up from the normal "X" models, but as far as the specs go, the only real difference is a 100-200Mhz increase in the Max Boost Clock. This translates to a maximum theoretical performance gain of around 2-5%, which in reality is likely to be even smaller.
On Intel's side, they actually went the other direction with 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 a 100MHz lower base and Maximum Turbo Boost clock speed. This should translate to around a 2% drop in performance at most.
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600X||6||3.8||4.4|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT||6||3.8||4.5|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3800X||8||3.9||4.5|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT||8||3.9||4.7|
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||12||3.8||4.6|
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT||12||3.8||4.7|
|Intel Core i9 10900K||10||3.7||5.3|
|Intel Core i9 10850K||10||3.6||5.2|
As far as pricing goes, the AMD Ryzen "XT" CPUs actually have the same exact MSRP as the normal "X" models. The older models are often on sale, however, so at the moment, the "XT" models are effectively a bit more expensive by around $50. The Intel Core i9 10850K, on the other hand, comes with a slight reduction in price compared to the 10900K on the order of about $40.
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 small part of what determines the real-world performance of a processor. Today, that is the question we want to answer within the confines of the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to our Conclusions.
Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:
|AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen Test Platform|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)|
*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 a number of Adobe applications, we will be using our PugetBench Adobe suite:
- PugetBench for Premiere Pro V0.91
- PugetBench for After Effects V0.91
- PugetBench for Photoshop V0.91
- PugetBench for Lightroom Classic V0.91
If you wish to know how your system compares, you can download and run the benchmarks for yourself, or use our Result Browser to examine a wide range of uploaded results.
One thing we do want to point out is that we did not have access to a Ryzen 5 3600X, so we had to resort to using the lower-clocked "3600" version. That means that we should see a bigger improvement in performance with the 3600XT, but just keep in mind that this isn't an accurate comparison. Because of this, we will largely focus on the 3800XT and 3900XT models.
Also, with the Z490 chipset, many motherboards do not default to using Intel's specified power limits. This isn't anything new, but now that Intel is being more aggressive about adding cores and pushing the frequency, is resulting in much higher power draw (and heat) than you would expect from a 125W processor – often resulting in 100c temperatures after only a few seconds of load. Because of this, we decided to manually set the PL1 and PL2 power limits in the BIOS. We use a value of 125W for the PL1 setting on all Intel 10th Gen CPUs, along with the following PL2 limits:
- Core i7 10700K / i9 10850K / i9 10900K: 250W
- Core i5 10600K: 182W
Setting the 10700K to 250W is technically beyond Intel's recommended power limit, but in our testing having it at 250W versus 229W made almost no impact on performance or thermals, so to keep things simple we are going to stick with 250W on the i7 and i9 CPUs. Setting these power limits made our Noctua NH-U12S more than enough to keep these CPUs properly cooled and helps match our philosophy here at Puget Systems of prioritizing stability and reliability over raw performance in our workstations.
While our benchmarks present various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide the individual results in case you want to get into the details. If there is a specific task in one application 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 the CPUs perform in each application.
Premiere Pro Benchmark Analysis
We are going to start off our analysis with Premiere Pro, where AMD has a slight lead over Intel in terms of performance. But what we are really concerned about in this post is how AMD's XT and the Core i9 10850K models perform relative to their "normal" counterparts.
In short… they are pretty unexciting. The AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT came in at a whopping 1% faster than the 3800X and 3900X respectively. The Ryzen 5 3600XT did a bit better compared to the 3600(non-X), but we suspect that if we had a 3600X to test with that the results would have again been within a percent or two. This means that at least in Premiere Pro, there is no reason to prioritize getting one of the new XT models.
On the Intel side, the Core i9 10850K ended up being about 3% slower than the i9 10900K. This is a larger difference than what we saw on the AMD side, but still small enough that it is going to be very difficult to notice in your day-to-day work.
After Effects Benchmark Analysis
Moving on to After Effects, things get a bit more interesting… but not by much. Here, the AMD Ryzen 3800XT and 3900XT scored around 1-2% higher than the standard "X" models. This is within the margin of error for this kind of test, however, which makes them effectively the same.
Once again, the Intel Core i9 10850K showed a larger performance delta compared to the Core i9 10900K, coming in at 3% slower – most of which was from the tracking tests.
Photoshop Benchmark Analysis
In Photoshop, things are mostly a continuation of what we saw in Premiere Pro and After Effects, only to an even lesser degree. In this case, the AMD Ryzen XT models and the Intel Core i9 10850K are around 1% (or less) faster than their standard counterparts. In other words, even with a benchmark designed to measure the tiny differences between processors, there is almost no effective difference.
Lightroom Classic Benchmark Analysis
Last up in our testing is Lightroom Classic – where you can probably guess the results. We feel like we are repeating ourselves at this point, but once again, the AMD Ryzen XT models and the Intel Core i9 10850K are within 1% (or less) of their standard counterparts. The only interesting thing this time is that the Ryzen XT models ended up a hair slower than the "X" models, but when we are talking about a difference of 1%, that is most likely just due to the margin of error rather than an indication that the "X" models are faster than the "XT" models.
AMD Ryzen 3800XT/3900XT vs 3800X/3900X for Adobe CC
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. Even in the best cases, the Ryzen 3800XT and 3900XT were only 1-2% faster than the 3800X and 3900X, which for our tests is well within the margin of error. That means that there is no reason to prioritize getting the newer XT models for a content creation workstation. If you can get a 3800X or 3900X for even a few bucks less, you might as well do so.
Intel Core i9 10850K vs Core i9 10900K for Adobe CC
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. In Premiere Pro and After Effects, it was about 3% slower, but that is right on the edge of our margin of error, and unlikely to be noticeable in the real world. In Photoshop and Lightroom Classic, the difference was even smaller to the point that there were effectively the same.
Supply of the 10th Gen Core i9 processors is very limited (which is partly why Intel launched the i9 10850K in the first place), so if you are considering purchasing or building a new system with either of these CPUs, we recommend just going with whichever one you can get your hands on. You are unlikely to ever notice a difference, so there no reason to hold out for one or the other unless the slightly lower price tag of the Core i9 10850K is a factor.
Overall, this is probably one of the most uninteresting pair of CPU launches we've seen in a while. Neither AMD nor Intel touted these as being anything significant, but when the performance is within a few percent, it almost doesn't seem worth the effort. At least with the Intel Core i9 10850K, we can assume that it is just a slightly lower binned version of the Core i9 10900K, which could be an attempt by Intel to alleviate some of the current 10th Gen Core i9 supply limitations.
But from AMD, we're not quite sure why they felt the need to launch a new series of processors. Unlike Intel, they cannot be an attempt to help with supply since they are higher binned. Perhaps it is just a method for AMD to ensure that they are staying in the news cycle, but given how much confusion this is likely to cause with consumers (especially since they are now using the "XT" modifier for both CPUs and GPUs), it is just an odd product for them to launch.
In short, though, we would recommend not worrying about the "XT" or "X" models from AMD and treat them as being interchangeable. For Intel, you can use either the Core i9 10850K or 10900K depending on which you can find a supply of.