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TL;DR: AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series performance in Unreal Engine
Overall, the Threadripper Pro gives a decent performance increase to users that spend a lot of time compiling code or shaders in Unreal Engine, averaging roughly 9% faster compile times. The extra memory channels greatly benefit that sort of work as it relies on moving a lot of data around. Other CPU bound tasks such as packing projects or building lighting are roughly equal to the non-Pro Threadripper.
Keep in mind that this is only talking about performance. Threadripper Pro also has all the additional workstation features like support for up to 2TB of RAM and 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4. While those two features may not be particularly important for Unreal Engine by itself, other considerations like the higher reliability of workstation products are something that is universally worthwhile no matter what your workflow is.
Over the last four years, AMD has been pushing the boundaries of CPU performance – steadily increasing core count and improving per-core performance with their Ryzen and Threadripper lines of processors. In addition to these mainstream areas, they have also been competing with Intel in the server world with their EPYC line.
With the launch of Threadripper Pro, AMD is now also breaking into the "workstation" space. For workstation products, straight CPU performance is not typically the most significant factor, but rather it is things like memory and PCIe capability that sets it apart from a consumer or enthusiast CPU. And in these areas, in particular, Threadripper Pro has a number of advantages over the normal Threadripper CPUs including eight-channel memory support (which maxes out at 2TB of total RAM) and 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4. Workstation products like this are also typically more reliable and include manageability features that can be important for some users.
If you want to read about what sets Threadripper Pro apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for Threadripper Pro.
In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new AMD Threadripper Pro CPUs in Unreal Engine compared to a range of CPUs including the AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen and a few Intel CPUs, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5950X. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for several other applications on our article listing page.
If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion.
Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:
|AMD Threadripper 3000 Series Platform|
|CPU||AMD TR 3990X 64 Core ($3,990)
AMD TR 3970X 32 Core ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X 24 Core ($1,399)
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI|
|RAM||4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)|
|AMD Ryzen Test Platform|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X ($799)|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)|
*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of Feb 1st, 2021
To see how well the Threadripper Pro CPUs perform, we are primarily going to be comparing them to the AMD Threadripper (non-Pro) processors. However, we will also be including the AMD Ryzen 5950X 16 Core CPU (to act as a core-to-core comparison for the Threadripper Pro 3955WX 16 Core CPU) as well as two of Intel's top processors, the Core i9 10900X and Core i9 10980XE, to see how AMD compares to Intel's top performing CPUs.
While most of the specs are as similar as we can make them across each test platform, the one thing we did vary was the number of RAM sticks and whether they were Reg. ECC or not. Essentially, we used Reg. ECC when supported by the platform (Threadripper Pro), and matched the number of sticks to the number of memory channels supported by the CPU and motherboard. This meant using 8 sticks for Threadripper Pro (8 channel), and 4 sticks for Threadripper and Intel 10980XE (quad channel). The only exception to this rule are the AMD Ryzen and Intel 10900K platforms where we used 4 sticks even though it is only dual channel.
Raw Benchmark Results
While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide the individual results for you to examine. If there is a specific task 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 each configuration performs.
Overall Unreal Engine Performance Analysis
The new Threadripper Pro 3000 series is very interesting to test since the processors themselves have slightly lower maximum boost clocks compared to Threadripper (non-pro), but feature twice the number of memory channels. These two factors may simply cancel each other out, or one can end up being more important depending on the application.
We see Threadripper Pro pull ahead in some tasks such as compiling the source code in Visual Studio or compiling shaders in the engine. Both were just over 9% faster than the existing Threadripper 3990WX. This is likely thanks to the extra memory channels as these tasks have a lot of data being moved around by the CPU.
Other tasks like Packaging a projector building lighting are essentially equal, likely due to the lower boost clock offsetting the extra RAM channels. The odd exception is the Threadripper Pro 3975WX, as it some how managed a faster time that any other CPU. each of these was run multiple times and the results matched. It boils down to which tasks you spend more time on, and how often you are waiting for that task to be completed. Compiling Shaders is probably the task that most users encounter the most often. For some that may be a few minutes, others may take much longer.
How well do the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro CPUs perform in Unreal Engine?
Overall, the Threadripper Pro gives a decent performance increase to users that spend a lot of time compiling code or shaders in Unreal Engine, averaging roughly 9% faster compile times. The extra memory channels greatly benefit that sort of work as it relies on moving a lot of data around. Other CPU bound tasks such as packing projects or building lighting are roughly equal to the non-Pro Threadripper. Packaging is difficult to compare as each consecutive attempt just updates the previous package, making it a task that isn’t always a bottleneck. And lighting now has a GPU Lightmass option with much-improved speed and accuracy, so many users may be moving away from CPU based light baking.
Keep in mind that this is only talking about performance. Threadripper Pro also has all the additional workstation features like support for up to 2TB of RAM and 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4. While those two features may not be particularly important for Unreal Engine, other considerations like the higher reliability of workstation products are something that is universally worthwhile no matter what your workflow is.
Really, the only downside to Threadripper Pro is the price, but with these CPUs, even the cost is very reasonable for what you get. Motherboards will likely be more expensive as well, but for the CPUs themselves, you are only looking at a price premium of about $24 per core over Threadripper. Since there are so many cores, that can still be up to a $1,500 price bump with the 64 core model, but in exchange for the higher performance and all the other benefits, Threadripper Pro is a solid investment.
Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for Unreal Engine and that performance will vary widely in different applications. If your workflow includes other software packages, you need to consider how the system will perform in those applications as well. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles to keep up to date on how all of these software packages – and more – perform with the latest CPUs.