AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D review: Closing the Intel gap for gaming

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AMD is back to challenge Intel for the crown of PC gaming. After losing out to the Core i9-13900K with its first Zen 4 chips, the new Ryzen 9 7950X3D closes the performance gap for PC gaming. But it doesn’t seem to replicate the massive jump we saw with the dominant Ryzen 7 5800X3D due to a rather mixed bag of results in the selection of games we tested.

This new flagship Ryzen 9 7950X3D chip costs $699 and has 16 cores with 32 threads and 144MB of cache. It rivals Intel’s flagship Core i9-13900K, which costs around $589 and has eight performance cores and 16 efficiency cores for a total of 32 threads. While Intel’s main Core i9 is cheaper, AMD also has to compete with Intel’s new $699 Core i9-13900KS processor, which breaks the 6GHz barrier at standard speeds for the first time.

AMD has promised it will beat Intel’s gaming and productivity performance with its X3D chips, while consuming less power at the same time. So we pitted its flagship 7950X3D against Intel’s Core i9-13900K and Core i9-13900KS chips to find out.

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I tested AMD’s 7950X3D with MSI’s Meg X670E Ace motherboard, 32 GB G.Skill DDR5 6000 RAM and Nvidia’s RTX 4090. This AM5 motherboard contains one PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot and three PCIe 4.0 M2. slots, so there’s plenty of room for the latest storage.

The edge doesn’t rate processors in the traditional sense, so we don’t have dedicated hardware test rigs or multiple CPUs and systems to provide all the benchmarks and comparisons you typically find in CPU reviews. We are going to recommend from Eurogamer Digital foundry, Tom’s hardwareAnd computer world for those.

I tested various workloads, synthetic benchmarks and games on both AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D and Intel’s Core i9-13900K and 13900KS. All tests were performed on the latest Windows 11 2022 update with VBS security disabled, Resizable BAR enabled and at 1080p resolution. Tests are run at 1080p to help avoid any GPU bottlenecks and to analyze raw CPU performance.

AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D matches Intel’s Core i9-13900K in most of the games I’ve tested. In Subway Exodus the 7950X3D is practically identical in frame rates to the 13900K and 13900KS at 1080p, and it’s comparable to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla And Watchdogs: Legion, at.

The major exceptions are Shadow of the Tomb Raider And F1 22, where the 7950X3D fires right past Intel’s latest and greatest. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran at 354 fps on the 7950X3D at 1080p, while reaching 308 fps on the 13900K and 313 fps on the 13900KS. AMD’s 7950X3D also reached 423 fps F1 22with the 13900KS trailing at 389 fps.

Intel’s main advantage in the games we tested was Gears 5, where the 13900KS manages to average 237 fps compared to 213 fps on the 7950X3D. However, it’s clear from this small selection of games that AMD has closed the gap here.

In terms of synthetic benchmarks and productivity, Intel is still largely ahead. The 7950X3D loses out in PugetBench’s Photoshop test, but manages to close the gap on the Premiere Pro side. I found that the 7950X3D also lags behind both Intel’s latest Core i9 chips in Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23. Oddly enough, it also lags way behind in the 3DMark Time Spy CPU test.

While Intel can take the lead in some productivity tests and pass gaming tests, it does so on a much larger power budget. AMD bumped up its first flagship Zen 4 chips to a TDP of 170 Watts, but it has dropped this Ryzen 9 7950X3D to a TDP of 120 Watts. Intel, on the other hand, has a base power of 125 watts on the Core i9-13900K and increased it to 150 watts on the 13900KS. At maximum turbo power, both of Intel’s newest chips hit just over 250 watts and can go much further if a motherboard is set to unlimited power. The difference can be over 200 watts between the 7950X3D and 13900KS under identical multithread loads. Digital foundry also found that the 7950X3D consumes significantly less power than Intel’s Core i9-13900K.

Both AMD and Intel have also been maximizing thermal space lately. That saw the 7950X run at around 95C during heavy mutilthread loads in our previous review, and the Core i9-13900K hit 100C in similar workloads. I noticed the 13900KS hit 101C in a multithread load, while the 7950X3D managed 86C during the same test. Both CPUs use the same Corsair H150 Elite LCD cooler.

AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D arrives February 28.

AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D arrives February 28.

If you like the performance results, here are some considerations. AMD’s latest 3D Zen 4 processors take advantage of the company’s impressive 3D V-Cache technology. AMD’s first desktop chip to use this technology was the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, and it surpassed its own Ryzen 5900X and Intel’s 12th Gen Core i9-12900K for PC gaming last year. Even against the 13900K it still holds up.

We now have a better idea of ​​how it performs at the flagship level for productivity and display apps, in addition to PC gaming. But if you’re interested in a 7950X3D, you’ll need a new AM5 motherboard, just like the regular 7950.

Motherboards using AM5 have support for DDR5 memory and up to 24 PCIe 5.0 lanes. We’re still waiting for the first PCIe 5.0 consumer SSDs, so you’ll probably pair any AM5 motherboard with PCIe 4.0 SSDs for now. The PCIe 5.0 support is also only future proof on the GPU side as Nvidia’s latest RTX 40 series does not support this latest standard and we have not yet reached the limits of PCIe 4.0 for GPUs.

Existing AM4 coolers should work just fine, and like the 7950, I was able to use Corsair’s H150 Elite LCD with no changes needed. You should check with your cooler manufacturer to ensure that existing AM4 models can be easily used with these new AM5 motherboards.

I noticed some early issues with the DDR5 memory training process during my Ryzen 9 7900X test, with an additional boot time of about 30 seconds. New BIOS updates have certainly fixed this, but I still notice slower boot times compared to the Intel system I tested.

I’m pleased to report that the hibernation issues I also experienced during the Ryzen 9 7900X test have been resolved. I can now wake up with the latest BIOS updates for the MSI Meg X670E Ace.

AMD’s 7950X3D really closes the gap to Intel’s latest and greatest processors for PC gaming, but it doesn’t go much further than in our small selection of games. With AMD promising support for its new AM5 socket through 2025, the 7950X3D feels like a great option for those who need performance in both gaming and productivity tasks.

For just pure gaming, AMD may still have a more reasonably priced option for PC gamers that comes with the performance and power consumption benefits. The 7950X3D arrives alongside the 7900X3D which costs $599. Both chips ship on February 28, and the new Ryzen 7 7800X3D goes on sale on April 6 for $449. AMD only provided the 7950X3D for testing, but the 7800X3D could be a true successor to the 5800X3D that became a popular option for PC gamers.

Since we haven’t had a chance to test the 7800X3D yet, the 7950X3D offers some great PC gaming performance in a processor that won’t hit your power bill like Intel’s flagship CPUs. In an era where chipmakers don’t always focus on efficiency, AMD’s 7950X3D shines as an exception to the rule.

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