Single Core Performance

In the single-core tests that we ran today when comparing the Ryzen 9 5950X to the Ryzen 9 3950X, we saw gains beyond 20% for single-threaded applications. This is a very significant performance boost that is not often seen in a single generation’s gap between processors.

Multicore Performance

Most of the benchmarks that we did today were in the multicore world and utilized all of the core and threads that were made available to each application. When all cores are in use, we no longer saw the 20%+ performance gains that we saw in the single-core world, however, in virtually all scenarios, there was a 5-10% boost in performance by selecting the Ryzen 9 5950X over the Ryzen 9 3950X.

PBO Performance

When turning on PBO, the Ryzen 9 5950X gobbled down a good bit more power in the name of finding peak performance. This was certainly the case for most of the multicore loads that we ran on it – we would performance gains in the 10%+ range for a number of the benchmarks that we through at it. This represents a significant real-world performance difference for workstation tasks as it will save the end-user time waiting for each task to finish.

Turning on PBO isn’t all roses and daisies. The single-threaded performance showed either comparable performance or slightly slower performance. It also did not make a difference for gaming. At the end of the day, PBO showed itself to be a great option to turn on for better workstation performance and that’s about it.

Gaming Performance

On the gaming front, the differences between the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Ryzen 9 3950X come down to whether the game you’re playing is CPU or GPU limited at the settings that you want to play. We utilized a GeForce RTX 3090 GPU in an attempt to take the GPU limitations as far away from testing as we could.

At 1080p, we saw at least a 10% performance gain by using the R9 5950X over the R9 3950X. This is an expected result as the RTX 3090 is typically not the limiting factor at 108p in today’s games.

When we turned the resolution up to 4K in those same games, we saw the performance differences vanish faster than a toupee in a hurricane. In each game that we tested, we saw identical performance between the 5950X and the 3950X.

Power and Temperature

In the power space, both the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Ryzen 9 3950X sport a claimed TDP of 105W. This appears to be accurate when comparing it to our observed package power, with the 9 5950X drawing slightly less power than the 9 3950X at stock under a multicore load. PBO added nearly 100W to the tab which is simply the cost of revving the engine of all 16 physical cores in the CPU.

On the temperature side, the Ryzen 9 5950X ran slightly cooler than the R9 3950X at stock clocks under a multicore load. This is consistent with a slightly lower power draw given that the same AIO and configuration were used to test the temperature. Turning on PBO pushed the limits of what our 360mm AIO could do.

Final Points

We gathered here today to see how AMD’s current flagship CPU, the Ryzen 9 5950X, compared to its previous flagship, the Ryzen 9 3950X. The 9 5950X sits at an MSRP of $799 (which is currently $709 at the time of publication) which is $50 higher than the R9 3950X and for that extra money, you get a significant upgrade in performance across the board.

If you’re looking at this from an upgrade scenario to bring your AM4 platform to peak performance, the calculus changes. If you’re primarily focused on high-resolution gaming, there’s absolutely no reason to pull the trigger on this upgrade. However, if you’re hitting the CPU hard with workstation tasks and have an itch for another 10-20% performance then it may be worth upgrading your rig.

If you’re deciding between the two in a “which should I buy to put in my new rig”, it’s an easy decision to grab the R9 5950X over the R9 3950X. Don’t even question it, just get it.


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David Schroth

David is a computer hardware enthusiast that has been tinkering with computer hardware for the past 25 years.

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