Intel’s fastest CPU nabbed world record because of a mere technicality

(Image credit: AMD)

Our colleagues at TechRadar reported how Intel’s new W9-3495X Xeon processor bested AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995X CPU in a popular 3D rendering benchmark, Maxon’s Cinebench R23, thanks to some stunning liquid nitrogen cooling system.

That, though, doesn’t reflect the more mundane reality of Pros: using a car analogy, nobody drives drag racing cars to work and certainly no creative professionals would risk a BSOD or system lock up by using extreme overclocking. The extra performance is not unsustainable and certainly not viable long term (not to mention how dangerous it is).

For a more realistic view of how the two rivals perform on creative software, check out the content creation preview article Matt Bach from Puget Systems, a boutique workstation specialist, put together.

Xeon vs Threadripper Pro

He pitted three Xeon “Sapphire Rapids” CPUs vs three Threadripper Pro CPUs across eight popular benchmark software including Cinebench R23. He noted that current generation Xeons are 40% faster than the previous generation ones on single-core performance and faster by about 5% (56-core vs 64-core) than AMDs workstation CPU. Overall though, the 5995WX is faster than the best Xeon (W9-3495X) by about 8.5%.

And here’s the thing: the ThreadRipper Pro is not AMD’s fastest CPU. That crown now belongs to the EPYC 9654, a monstrous 96-core/192 thread server processor that some vendors - like Broadberry - have started to use in workstations. Not only does it offer better IPC (instruction-per-clock) performance because it uses the newer Zen 4 architecture, it also has 50% more cores and because you can run them in pairs, the performance offered is unrivaled.

Intel only won the Cinebench contest because no new EPYC CPU was tested using overclocking. Cinebench is also limited to 128-cores (or 256 threads) per instance which means that Cinebench R24/R25 will likely offer an instant boost to a 192-core EPYC system when Maxon decides to release it. Currently, a dual socket Cinebench R23 running on two-thirds of its cores scores up to nearly 140,000 without resorting to overclocking (via Storagereview). 

Mind the cost

The Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX was launched in March 2022 and the EPYC 9654 in November 2022. Could there be a Ryzen Threadripper Pro 7995WX launched before the end of the year? Don’t discount it yet although we suspect that there’s no need for it now given the fact that it is currently faster than the fastest CPU Intel has across a number of benchmarks.

Hypothetically, this CPU might stick to 64 cores with a slightly higher base/max frequency, more cache with a higher TDP. Those who want extra oomph can always check out boutique workstation providers like Broadberry, ThinkMate, Supermicro, Mediaworkstation and a few others: as long as your budget allows for it that is. Expect to pay more than $20,000 for a dual socket AMD EPYC workstation with 192 cores and full DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support. Check out the performance of the 9654 from our sister website Tomshardware. 

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.