Over the past month or so, we've been asked a lot whether you should wait for the 3950X or just snap up a discounted Threadripper 2950X. Our advice has been to wait for 3950X reviews and we’re happy that’s what we suggested given how good the 3950X is. Right now the TR 2950X retails for $680 but it’s around 30% slower and pushes total system consumption 30% higher. So in terms of performance and efficiency, the 2950X is the inferior choice except for those extra PCIe lanes.
The Ryzen 9 3950X also has the advantage of more affordable motherboards. You can throw this thing on a decent B450 board for a little over $100 and we’ll be doing just that in a new review soon. Meanwhile a decent X399 board costs around $300. Ultimately we feel for most people the 3950X and 3900X have put down the 1st and 2nd-gen Threadripper series.
As for Intel, the R9 3950X is clearly a much better CPU than the $1,050 Core i9-9920X. However, that part will be refreshed very soon as the Core i9-10920X for only $700. While the 12-core Intel CPU consumes a similar level of power, it’s often heavily outgunned in terms of raw performance. There are instances where the 10920X will win, but only by a slim margin, while there are plenty more instances where the 3950X completely buries it. For a similar level of workstation performance you’ll need to spend $800 on the 10940X, or $1,000 on the 10980XE to beat AMD's finest AM4 CPU.
AMD has delivered a "mainstream" AM4 part that can rival and outcompete the best high-end desktop CPUs Intel has to offer. This explains why 3rd-gen Threadripper is so damn expensive as AMD looks to separate their mainstream and high-end desktop platforms. But with the $1,400 24-core 3960X offering more PCIe lanes than most of you’ll know what to do with, and twice the L3 cache of the 3950X, 3rd-gen Threadripper is going to be truly high-end desktop stuff.