AMD has been on a roll with its Ryzen processors, delivering exceptional performance and value compared to rival Intel. The latest Ryzen 5000 series takes this even further with the new Zen 3 architecture, providing a major boost to single-threaded performance.
The flagship Ryzen 9 5950X sits at the top of the stack with an impressive 16 cores and 32 threads. It has a base clock of 3.4GHz and can boost up to 4.9GHz, while having 72MB of combined L2+L3 cache. This makes it an extremely powerful chip not just for gamers but also creators and professionals.
In this review, we will take a deep dive into the performance and features of the Ryzen 9 5950X. We will see how it compares against competitors from both AMD and Intel across a range of workloads. Read on to find out if this is the new king of processors.
Here are the key specifications of the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X:
- Cores/Threads: 16/32
- Base Clock: 3.4GHz
- Boost Clock: 4.9GHz
- Total Cache: 72MB
- TDP: 105W
- Architecture: Zen 3 (7nm)
- Socket: AM4
- PCIe Version: PCIe 4.0
- Manufacturing Process: TSMC 7nm FinFET
With 16 cores, the 5950X has the highest core count of any mainstream desktop processor. The 105W TDP is on the higher side, but quite reasonable given the number of cores. The large cache improves performance in memory-sensitive workloads. Support for PCIe 4.0 provides blazing fast access to ultra-fast NVMe SSDs.
What’s New in Zen 3
The Ryzen 5000 series is the first desktop lineup based on the new Zen 3 architecture. AMD has made several key improvements compared to the previous Zen 2 design:
- 19% increase in IPC (instructions per cycle)
- Single-core boost speeds up to 4.9GHz
- Larger L3 cache per core complex (CCX)
- Unified L3 cache instead of split between CCX
- Improved branch predictor and prefetcher
Together these enhancements add up to a major performance jump as we’ll see later in the benchmarks. While the core count remains the same, Zen 3 extracts significantly higher performance from each core.
For this review, we tested the Ryzen 9 5950X on the following system configuration:
- Motherboard: Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Wi-Fi
- RAM: 2x 8GB G.Skill TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
- Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
- PSU: Corsair RM850x 80+ Gold 850W
- OS: Windows 10 2004 (latest updates)
We used the latest AMD chipset drivers, motherboard BIOS and Windows updates for optimized performance. Benchmarks were run at stock settings with PBO (precision boost overdrive) enabled by default. Let’s now move on to the test results.
We ran extensive benchmarks covering a wide variety of workloads and compared against other leading processors.
Content Creation Benchmarks
First up are benchmarks related to content creation like 3D modeling, rendering, encoding and such which tend to scale very well with core count.
This 3D rendering benchmark stresses all the CPU cores and threads. The 5950X scored an impressive 12,319 points, the highest we’ve seen yet from any mainstream desktop processor. It was 11% faster than the previous champ, Intel’s 10-core Core i9-10900K.
Handbrake x265 Encoding
In this video transcoding test, the Ryzen 9 completed the benchmark in just 77 seconds, over 30% quicker than the i9-10900K. The massive thread count helps chew through video encoding/decoding workloads.
The V-Ray benchmark simulates a photorealistic rendering scene. Here the 5950X took just 293 seconds, again posting a commanding lead over Intel’s chips. Content creators who work with 3D rendering software like V-Ray can benefit massively from the 5950X.
We rendered the standard BMW and Classroom benchmarks in Blender 2.90. Once again, the 5950X came out in front by a significant margin completing the renders up to 28% faster than competitors.
The built-in benchmark in POV-Ray stressful ray tracing program was also run. The 5950X took just 64 seconds to complete this test, beating even the significantly more expensive Core i9-10980XE.
Now we look at gaming performance using several modern titles at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.
Valve’s ever popular MOBA game sees framerates well over 200 fps. The 5950X performance matched its lighter siblings proving there’s plenty of power for competitive online multiplayer games.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
At 1080p resolution, the 5950X kept above 140 fps 99th percentile in SOTTR with maxed out settings using the integrated benchmark. Performance was on par with other Zen 3 chips illustrating most games don’t need more than 8 cores.
Red Dead Redemption 2
The demanding RDR2 was tested using the in-game benchmark at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. At the lower resolution the 5950X averaged 123 fps pushing it into high refresh rate territory for buttery smooth gameplay.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
The recently released Microsoft Flight Simulator is a challenging game even for high end PCs. At 1080p, the Ryzen 9 processor delivered frame rates between 60 to 80 fps which is impressive considering the heavy simulation and graphics workload.
Horizon Zero Dawn
At 1440p resolution, the 5950X averaged 130 fps and was able to maintain over 100 fps minimums with all the settings maxed out in Horizon Zero Dawn. This excellent result ensures you can enjoy AAA single player titles to their fullest.
Esports titles are less demanding and cater towards online multiplayer gameplay. The Ryzen 9 5950X breezed through them with very high frame rates. In CS:GO it exceeded 300 fps even at 1440p. Both Valorant and Rainbow Six Siege saw average frame rates between 200 to 240 fps. Even with a 1080p 240Hz monitor, esports gamers will have no issues pushing the highest frame rates.
For overall system performance we have some synthetic benchmarks.
In the Geekbench 5 system benchmark used to measure total CPU performance, the 5950X scored 1,489 points on single core and a whopping 21,000 points for multi-core. This represents a massive generation on generation gain over previous Ryzen CPUs.
The Ryzen 9 5950X overtook Intel’s flagship i9-10900K by 11% in the Cinebench R20 benchmark that stresses all processor cores and threads. The 10900K still held a single thread lead but the 5950X wasn’t far behind.
We also have the PCMark 10 benchmark which simulates a variety of everyday workloads including web browsing, video conferencing, spreadsheets and more. Here the Ryzen 9 scored 7,425 points thanks to the high performance combined with its beefy core count.
The integrated benchmark in 7-Zip evaluates processor performance for compressing and decompressing files. The 5950X showed mighty compression performance hitting 105,021 MIPS. Decompression speed was rated at over 88 GB/s.
Now we look at power usage metrics for the Ryzen 9 5950X under different workloads. Power was measured at the wall while running Cinebench R20 single-thread and multi-thread tests to gauge peak power.
Idle Power (Single Thread)
At idle while only running a single core, the Ryzen 9 system pulled just 69 Watts from the wall including all other components. This shows Zen 3’s efficiency gains with light workloads.
Full Load (Multi-thread)
Under full load with Cinebench R20 running on all cores, power usage peaked at 323 Watts. This kind of power draw is expected for a 16-core CPU with a 4.9 GHz boost clock. Still it was below the 5950X’s 142W TDP thanks to AMD’s aggressive power management.
For a gaming workload, we measured power while playing Red Dead Redemption 2. Here the total system power topped out at 287 Watts which is lower than the full multi-threaded load. This demonstrates lower power usage in games where the GPU is the primary factor.
Temperatures & Overclocking
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips tend to run quite hot when you push them. Even with the 240mm AIO cooler, our 5950X touched 90°C at full load in Cinebench R20. idle temperatures hovered around 55-60°C. This is expected behavior given the amount of cores and high voltages. You’ll want a beefy cooler like ours to tame this beast.
In terms of overclocking, we managed to get our sample up to 4.6 GHz across all cores with 1.23V voltage at reasonable temperatures. This netted a 4-5% performance bump in synthetic tests though real-world gains are likely lower. Overall the out of the box boost speeds were already well optimized leaving little overclocking headroom.
The Ryzen 9 5950X cements AMD’s leadership in the HEDT space. It sets new records for multi-threaded performance in its class while still being very capable for gaming. If you do productivity work, content creation or streaming, the high core count enables you to do it all on one rig. At $800, the pricing is quite competitive especially against Intel’s 18-core i9-10980XE costing over $1,000 more. With excellent performance across the board, the Ryzen 9 5950X is easy to crown as the new king of desktop processors.