Ryzen 7950X3D review: An expensive but incredibly efficient 16-core CPU

Enlarge / AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D.

Andrew Cunningham

Near the end of Ryzen 5000’s run, AMD released the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, a special version of the eight-core 5800X with an additional 64MB of L3 cache stacked on top.

The result was an interesting but niche experiment. The extra “3D V-Cache” helped the CPU perform particularly well in games, but lower clock speeds (plus higher power consumption and heat generation) detracted from overall app performance. The extra cost was (and remains) far from commensurate with the speed gains over the 5700X or 5800X. And the 5800X3D was the end of the line for the old socket AM4 platform, making it an interesting upgrade option if you already had an older Ryzen PC, but a tough choice to build a brand new PC around it.

Now AMD is back with an expanded lineup of Zen 4-based Ryzen 7000X3D processors. The $599 12-core Ryzen 9 7900X3D and $699 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X3D are available now, while the 8-core Ryzen 7 7800X3D arrives April 6.

The expanded scope of the lineup suggests that AMD has become more familiar with the manufacturing end of the equation – 3D V-Cache isn’t in every Ryzen CPU, but it’s also not limited to a single product running in a strange way point in the Ryzen 7000 lifecycle. AMD has addressed some of the 5800X3D’s biggest shortcomings by boosting the clock speeds, though not always in an elegant way. The CPUs still feel like experiments in some ways, and most people buying or building a PC will be fine served by one of the cheaper, non-X3D CPUs (or something from Intel). But the performance – and especially the power efficiency – of the 7950X3D make it worth a look for anyone building a gaming PC that also doubles as a video editing rig or workstation.

Prices and comparisons

The Ryzen 7000 CPU range is currently divided into three subcategories: the X-series CPUs that were available at launch, non-X-series CPUs for mainstream PCs with lower power management defaults and lower prices, and now the high-end, gamer- targeted X3D models. Compared to the X series, you’ll pay anywhere from $100 to $150 more for CPUs that usually promise better gaming performance.

Current prices cores/wires Bells (Base/Boost) Total Cache (L2+L3) TDP
Ryzen 9 7950X3D $699 16c/32t 4.2/5.7GHz 144MB (16+128) 120W (162W PPT)
Ryzen 9 7900X3D $599 12c/24t 4.4/5.6GHz 140MB (12+128) 120W (162W PPT)
Ryzen 9 7950X $589 16c/32t 4.5/5.7GHz 80MB (16+64) 170W (230W PPT)
Ryzen 9 7900X $448 12c/24t 4.7/5.6GHz 76MB (12+64) 170W (230W PPT)
Core i9-13900K $580 8P/16E/32t 3.0/5.7 GHz (P cores) 68MB (32+36) 125 watts PL1/253 watts PL2
Core i7-13700K $418 8P/8E/24t 3.4/5.3 GHz (P cores) 54MB (24+30) 125 watts PL1/253 watts PL2

Prices for AMD’s other Zen 4 processors have dropped a bit since the chips launched in September, partly because Intel’s 12th and 13th generation CPUs are very competitively priced and partly because CPU and desktop PC sales are much lower than in the US. start of the pandemic (although they are still higher than before the pandemic). If you read our older coverage, you might notice that the 7950X3D launches at the same price as the regular 7950X that launched less than six months ago; this is presumably not the competitive position AMD wanted to take so early in the Ryzen 7000’s lifecycle.

Looking at the top of Intel’s 13th Gen lineup, the i9-13900K costs $600 or less these days (normally the KF or non-K version of the 13900 can save you even more money, but as of this writing all are three float in the same price range). The main shortcoming is that you have to let it consume lot power to get the most out of it, especially compared to the 7950X3D, but in terms of initial cost, you can still put together a top-notch Intel system for a little less money than an AM5 system.

As we wrote before, the AMD platform also mandates a new motherboard with a new socket and chipset And DDR5 memory, while Intel’s CPUs work with a wider range of cheaper motherboards, and you can still use DDR4 RAM to save money if you want to. But if you’re seriously considering a 7950X for your PC, you’d probably also consider a DDR5-compatible Z690 or Z790 motherboard for an Intel CPU, which closes that price gap a bit. Putting an i9-13900K into a cheap motherboard with an H610 chipset would technically be workbut it is likely that the power supply system in that motherboard would limit performance.

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