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TL;DR: AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series performance in V-Ray
While the Threadripper Pro CPUs do not give a performance boost to V-Ray themselves, Threadripper Pro as a platform offers a lot of features that may be useful to CPU based renderers. More RAM channels and much larger RAM capacity could be a huge benefit to very large and complex scenes.
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. 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 V-Ray compared to a range of CPUs including the AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen 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).
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 (quad channel). The only exception to this rule is the AMD Ryzen platform where we used 4 sticks even though it is only dual channel.
Overall V-Ray 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 do not see a significant difference in the rendering performance between the new Threadripper Pro and the existing Threadripper CPUs. However, this is only part of the picture. The V-Ray scene is not a hugely complex scene to render, so it is not really taking full advantage of the Threadripper Pro platform. Depending on the project you are working on, you may see a small performance bump or nothing at all.
The platform also offers the ability to have significantly more RAM, which again, if the scene is sufficiently large, will help with performance as it won’t have to cache to the hard drive. Unfortunately, we’d need a scene that is a few hundred gigabytes to be able to really test that. If you are currently constrained on RAM with a Threadripper, then Threadripper Pro may be the platform for you.
How well do the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro CPUs perform in V-Ray?
While the Threadripper Pro CPUs do not give a performance boost themselves, Threadripper Pro as a platform offers a lot of features that may be useful to CPU based renderers. More RAM channels and much larger RAM capacity could be a huge benefit to very large and complex scenes. The additional PCIe lanes allow for more fast NVMe drives, or the ability to move to multi-GPU rendering.
There is a cost increase with this platform. The CPUs and motherboards are more expensive. In the case of the top-of-the-line 3995WX, a $1500 premium, but you get more features, in addition to, at least according to AMD, more reliable workstation-grade hardware. It is too soon to have reliability data, but this is the same thing we’ve seen from Intel’s Xeon line of processors.
Some may not find the cost worthwhile, in which case, the current Threadrippers still offer amazing performance. But for those that can benefit from the extra features the Threadripper Pro offer, this is a very strong platform.
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 V-Ray 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.