Ever since AMD launched its Zen 4 architecture and Ryzen 7000 series CPUs, gamers everywhere have been asking about the 3D V-Cache models. It is finally here, AMD is launching its first of the Zen 4 3D V-Cache CPUs today with its AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D Gaming Processor with an MSRP of $699.99. Both the Ryzen 9 7900X3D and Ryzen 9 7950X3D will be available on January 28th, 2023, however, AMD is only sampling the Ryzen 9 7950X3D for testing today.
We are going to review the Ryzen 9 7950X3D with a gaming focus in this review. This is a gaming-oriented review of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, and we will have a separate productivity-focused article to come. To put a focus on gaming, we are going to test the Ryzen 9 7950X3D at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p in 11 games with and without Ray Tracing.
That’s right, we are putting it to the test at all three common resolutions so that gamers will get a broad focus on the overall picture the Ryzen 9 7950X3D paints for gaming. By including games with and without Ray Tracing, and testing with a fast NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition video card we think you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need to make an informed buying decision. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D was a great success, so let’s see how the Ryzen 9 7950X3D shapes up.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D Specs
Naturally, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D (codenamed Raphael-X) extends upon the Ryzen 9 7950X and what it already brought to the table based on the AMD Zen 4 architecture. This is the 5nm manufacturing process, AM5 platform, PCIe 5.0, and DDR5 support that all Ryzen 7000 series CPUs share. The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is a 16-core/32-thread CPU that can boost up to 5.7GHz and has 144MB of total combined cache with 3D V-Cache and a TDP of 120W. For comparison, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is a 16-core/32-thread CPU that can boost up to 5.7GHz and has 80MB of total combined cache with a TDP of 170W.
AMD Zen 4 3D V-Cache on the Ryzen 9 7950X3D works in a unique way AMD calls Asymmetric Chiplet Design. In this implementation of 3D V-Cache, the V-Cache only exists on one CCD while the other CCD is the standard implementation. This allows the CCD without 3D V-Cache to run at the intended boost clock frequency. When an application favors frequency, it can run on the standard CCD, and games can run on the CCD with 3D V-Cache, as long as Windows manages this correctly.
How Windows is going to manage this comes down to software implemented by AMD via an SBIOS update and its chipset drivers. The AMD Chipset drivers will include new software called AMD 3D V-Cache Performance Optimizer Driver. This driver evaluates in real-time and dynamically modifies the preferred cores seen by the Windows OS based on workload preference.
There is also another component to this called AMD PPM Provisioning File Driver which will also install with the AMD Chipset drivers. When a game is detected, the game is restricted to a single CCD by parking the second CCD to reduce latency and increase performance. The game should then be restricted to the CCD with the higher game performance, almost always the CCD with the larger cache. If utilization is high enough, the cores on the parked CCD will be automatically enabled.
AMD is putting the Ryzen 9 7950X3D at $699.99 MSRP, and officially it is keeping the Ryzen 9 7950X also at $699.99. However, recent prices as of this writing have the Ryzen 9 7950X available at around $599 (Newegg / Amazon) or slightly lower.
Important Note about Performance Reviews Across the Web on 7950X3D
One of the things to be aware of is that the reviews you see in regard to Ryzen 9 7950X3D could vary in results wildly. This is due to a few possible reasons. The first difference will be game choice. Some games benefit more than other games when it comes to 3D V-Cache performance improvements. That is why we are using 11 games today, to give a broad perspective. The other issue will be GPU used and tested game resolution. If you are GPU-bound, you won’t see much difference, if you are CPU bound, you might, depending on the game being used. These are obvious concerns, but worth noting as you read reviews around the web and compare them with our results. Some more not-so-obvious differences that might arise that will now affect results are as follows.
It is possible XBOX Game Bar did not get updated properly, and some games aren’t getting recognized properly for X3D to work efficiently. We will talk about the XBOX Game Bar KGL update necessity on the following page. It is also possible there are bugs or issues with the CCD partitioning optimizations in place by AMD that have to be ironed out and optimized further. Some games may not be behaving correctly. Finally, it is strongly recommended to benchmark 7950X3D with a freshly installed Windows installation and games so that the games can run their pre-computed shader optimizations again on the 7950X3D CPU. If these things are not done properly, or there are game issues and optimization issues, results can and will be different across reviews.
For our review today, we have updated XBOX Game Bar completely to the latest version KGL 2225. We have formatted our drive and installed Windows 11 freshly on the 7950X3D CPU with all Windows updates. We have installed the latest AMD chipset driver as provided by AMD for 7950X3D. We have installed each game freshly on the 7950X3D and allowed them to run their shader optimizations at launch, to optimize shader compilation for the 7950X3D CPU. We have disabled Virtual Based Security. We have Game Mode On. We have Resizable BAR on.
If reviewers have ported their drive from one platform to another, or one CPU to another, for testing, results may not be favorable toward the 7950X3D. We did not do this, all of our CPUs and platforms have fresh installations of Windows and games on that platform and CPU. We did see an issue where a freshly formatted Windows and new game installation on the 7950X3D resulted in better performance than if we migrated Windows from one CPU to another. We wanted to put this section up front here so that we can be very transparent about our testing configuration so you know what you are getting with our results and know that we strived for the absolute best result.