Greatest CPUs for Workstations: December 2020

In our sequence of Greatest CPU guides, right here’s the newest replace to our advisable workstation CPUs checklist. All numbers within the textual content are up to date to mirror pricing on the time of writing. Numbers in graphs mirror MSRP.

Greatest CPUs for Workstations December 2020

Generally selecting a CPU is tough. So we have you coated. In our CPU Guides, we offer you our decide of among the greatest processors out there, supplying knowledge from our opinions. Our Greatest CPUs for Workstations information principally covers workstation processors out there to shoppers, though some server merchandise cowl each segments.

Workstation CPU Suggestions: 2020 December
Phase Processor
Most Cores Non-ECC: Threadripper 3990X $3848
ECC: EPYC 7702P $4750
The Good Cash AMD Threadripper 3970X $2250
HEDT Mid Vary AMD Threadripper 3960X $1600
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X $799
Intel Core i9-10850K $400
AVX Accelerated 2P: Intel Xeon Gold 6258R $4100
1P: Intel Xeon W-3175X $3075
Reminiscence Assist EPYC 7232P (4 TB/skt)

Intel Cascade Lake (2 TB/skt?)

Intel Xeon + Optane (4.5 TB/skt)

HEDT On a Funds AMD Threadripper 1900X $240

As we’ve moved by way of 2020, there haven’t been many new releases for the high-end desktop market. It has been sluggish, and everybody has been in a position to sit on some new {hardware} for some time, understanding that they’ve the most effective for his or her cash. The abundance of AMD’s Third Technology Threadripper processors and Intel’s Cascade Lake-X {hardware} signifies that customers have had choices relying on workload stability. The instant horizon doesn’t present a lot, however we all know the subsequent huge goal goes to be AMD’s Zen 3 primarily based Threadripper processors, anticipated within the first half of subsequent 12 months. Primarily based on the uplift Zen 3 has been having within the client house, translating that into Threadripper is predicted to be an enormous internet plus, however we don’t see these elements popping out earlier than EPYC; additionally with a wholesome efficiency lead AMD can afford to let the market breathe for some time. What this implies is that customers should buy a high-end desktop processor or system in the present day and nonetheless get tons and plenty of use out of it.

It’s price noting that for some high-end desktop customers, notably professionals that may amortize the price of the {hardware} over time as a result of their elevated throughput, value and longevity may not be a difficulty. Additionally, companies and even educational establishments might have most popular distributors for his or her pre-built techniques, and in consequence will expertise a distinct value construction than simply merely shopping for a processor – they find yourself with a system that may have an prolonged elements and help guarantee, and even with progressive computerized upgrades, and it will likely be as much as the seller to produce that. Hopefully this checklist could be helpful to these distributors as effectively in terms of constructing techniques for his or her clients.

An ECC Query

Additionally, to handle the difficulty of ECC on AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper platforms. ECC lies on this area of ‘it form of works’ however is not validated. There’s what’s known as ‘unofficial help’, which is completely different to ‘official qualification’. Technically, not one of the Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs are ‘formally certified’ for ECC, nonetheless most of them (if not all) will exhibit unofficial help. Because of this it’d work, however AMD will not offer you help for it. There are two caveats to this:

First, it requires motherboard help. Some distributors are designing their boards with ECC help, and a few will formally qualify supporting ECC. Notice that even when the seller lists official help, you might be in ‘unofficial help’ from AMD’s perspective.

Secondly, there’s the ‘is it working’ query. Positive you possibly can have a CPU that unofficially helps ECC, and ECC reminiscence in a motherboard that ‘formally helps’ ECC, and there are instruments within the OS to find out that every one the elements of the chain help it. However the subsequent query is that if it truly works – some software program solely checks the ‘does it help ECC’ flag, fairly than truly testing for it. There are experiences of customers who, by most measures, have the whole lot within the chain sorted and reported as working, however none of it’s truly enabled. This could possibly be right down to particular drivers, or a BIOS problem. Some software program would possibly say ‘ECC discovered, working, however not enabled’, or phrases to that impact. In the end you want the flexibility to help ECC monitoring, which regularly is not supported natively on client grade motherboards. On server grade motherboards, it’s.

It is a minefield, and your mileage might differ. Our advice right here is that in case you completely want an AMD CPU with ECC as a mission important a part of your construct, go for EPYC. 


Mainstream and Desktop Blurred

When Intel launched its Cascade Lake-X Refresh platform again in November with considerably decrease costs than the earlier Skylake Refresh-X era, we noticed numerous points with provide of processors, stemming from Intel’s manufacturing focus – this has all been sorted now, however Intel’s HEDT technique is slowly falling backwards.

The purpose of a HEDT platform is to offer high-end efficiency, generally no matter value. This implies peak numbers of cores, reminiscence channels, and PCIe lanes. Consequently, there’s usually a really apparent line between the mainstream processors and the high-end. Due to AMD, that line is now very a lot blurred at the place mainstream ends and HEDT begins.

Right here’s a direct comparability:

Intel vs AMD Comparability
AnandTech Intel





(24-core solely)
Technology Comet Lake Zen 3 Cascade-X Zen 2
Advertising Title Core tenth Gen Ryzen 5000 Core tenth Gen Threadripper 3000
Prime SKU i9-10900K R9 5950X i9-10980XE TR3 3960X
Launch Date 4/2020 11/2020 11/2019 11/2019
Cores 2-10 4-16 10-18 24
TDP 125 W 105 W 140 W 180 W
Peak Energy

(as examined)
255 W 141 W 190 W 182 W
Base Freq 3700 MHz 3400 MHz 3000 MHz 3800 MHz
Turbo Freq 5300 MHz 4900 MHz 4800 MHz 4500 MHz
PCIe 3.0 x16 4.0 x20 3.0 x48 3.0 x56
Motherboards Z490 X570 / B550 X299 TRX40
Value (tray/SEP) $499 (1ku) $799 (SEP) $979 (1ku) $1399 (SEP)
Retail At the moment $540 ? $995 $1600
1ku = 1000 unit batch, 1 unit at retail is commonly barely (3-5%) greater

SEP = Steered Etail Value

Whereas Intel’s mainstream processors go from two cores as much as ten, and the high-end desktop processors go from ten to eighteen, AMD’s mainstream stops at sixteen, and the high-end AMD begins at 24. Because of this AMD’s highest performing mainstream processor basically has the identical variety of cores as Intel’s highest performing high-end desktop processor. These two processors are additionally worlds aside in efficiency:

Clearly the HEDT platforms have two important areas the place mainstream can’t compete – reminiscence channels/capability, and PCIe. For those who want these, then HEDT is the one solution to go. However for benchmarks, in a straight comparability when pulling knowledge from our newest opinions, the 5950X takes an virtually clear sweep.

The 10980XE wins within the AES efficiency check, barely. Not pictured, as a result of it isn’t a good combat, is our 3DPMavx check, which runs at the most effective AVX for every platform. This implies the 10980XE runs on AVX512, in comparison with AVX2 on the 5950X, and the 10980X scores 4.26x what the 5950X does. Which is the primary promoting level for Intel’s processors on this vary, ought to your workload be AVX512 accelerated.

AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X was solely simply launched, and is in brief provide until you discover a retailer with new inventory. The Intel Core i9-10980XE, against this, was launched in November final 12 months, and inventory is accessible in a number of locations. Going above and past, on the HEDT facet of AMD although, Zen 3 primarily based Threadripper (5000 ?) is due across the nook, offering a drop in replace for any of the Threadripper 3000 sequence. Intel’s HEDT plans are considerably of a thriller to everybody, with the newest principle that we’re not going to see an replace in 2021.

For AMD’s {hardware}, it needs to be famous that since our final information in August, we’re seeing numerous value rises throughout the board. This could possibly be right down to demand, or as a result of inventory ranges with a future Threadripper version.


Going for the Most Cores:

AMD Threadripper 3990X at $3848 (up from $3600)

AMD EPYC 7702P at $4750 for ECC

Generally all you need are cores – both for lots of digital machines, or extremely parallel workloads, or one thing else. Each AMD and Intel attempt to maintain their highest core rely {hardware} for his or her enterprise strains, corresponding to 64-core EPYCs and 28/56-core Xeons, which signifies that these additionally come at a further value for options corresponding to multi-socket capabilities or RDIMM help and RAS options.

For extra ‘client’ {hardware}, the best core rely on supply is 64 cores from AMD, with the Threadripper 3990X, presently out there for $3848 from its MSRP of $3990 (up $248 since our final information). This chip offers 56 lanes of PCIe 4.0, with one other 8 lanes for the chipset, and is available in at a base frequency of two.9 GHz and turbo of 4.3 GHz.  We examined the Threadripper 3990X towards $20k of Intel’s premium enterprise CPUs, and for workloads that had been embarrassingly parallel.

You’ll be able to learn our full evaluation of the 3990X right here:

The 64 Core Threadripper 3990X CPU Assessment

In The Midst Of Chaos, AMD Seeks Alternative


If there’s a want for ECC, customers can get 64 cores on this approach in the event that they wish to go EPYC. The one socket 64-core EPYC 7702P is the best selection right here, with an MSRP of $4425, or a current retail value of $4750. For that value the {hardware} has a base frequency of two.0 GHz and a turbo frequency of three.35 GHz, and entry to eight full reminiscence channels. The Threadripper 3990X has greater frequencies as a result of its greater TDP (200W vs. 280W), however as far the 3990X solely has 4 reminiscence channels. It is going to be necessary to maintain this in thoughts.

Intel’s choices go as much as the 56-core Cascade Lake-AP processors, however these are solely out there as a part of a default server system that Intel’s companions can promote on. Intel nonetheless refuses to attribute a value to this processor, though we’ve estimated it round $25000. There’s the Xeon W-3175X up on the market with 28-cores for $3075, plus a motherboard for about $500-1000, so that is virtually the identical value because the 3990X for under half the cores. The EPYC 7702P on this occasion, being a socketed half that may be bought off the shelf, will get our vote.

The Good Cash:

AMD Threadripper 3970X at $2250 (up from $1853)

One of many peak performers of the final spherical of HEDT refreshes was the Threadripper 3970X. Providing 32 cores on a high-end desktop platform with a unified reminiscence design at a value the place Intel used to supply 10 cores not too way back is an astonishing leap in cores per greenback, and once you consider that the Threadripper has a better IPC and an aggressive frequency makes it all of the extra spectacular.

The 2 greatest upgrades the 3970X offers is the unified reminiscence distribution (will get rid of some complaints from the earlier Threadrippers), and that utilizing a 64 thread processor additionally removes points on Home windows associated to a number of processor teams when going above 64.

3970X Widget

In our 3970X evaluation, I used the phrase ‘massacre’, as a result of any benchmark the place the Core i9-10980XE wished to do effectively, the 3970X got here and received, generally by a big margin by having practically double the cores. The one multi-threaded check that the 10980XE received was AVX512 associated, and a few folks complained that I didn’t level on the 35+ gaming assessments the place the 10980XE additionally received by small (sub-3%) margins, however these folks clearly don’t know what these processors are about. The 3970X is a positive processor for anybody who can lay down $2000 for the chip and one other $100+ for cooling (then $500+ for reminiscence, $500 for motherboard, and many others).

The truth that this processor has gone up in value to the tune of just about $400 since our final information is a bit regarding. It’s nonetheless the steered processor for its class.


Mid-Vary Providing:

AMD Threadripper 3960X ($1400)


Intel Core i9-9940X ($760)

For anybody wanting a cheaper high-end desktop system, then we will avoid wasting monies by trying on the mid-stack. That is the place Intel is definitely a bit extra aggressive: 18 cores within the i9-10980XE for an OEM value of $979 in comparison with the 24 core TR 3960X at $1399. Price per core is clearly shut, round $55/core for each, and each processors have plus factors (though in our assessments, the 24-core does pull forward as a rule).

In earlier guides this phase has all the time been different as a result of availability. That is additionally the place the mainstream processors often get a glance in for value, relying on use case and the way a lot tools is able to hand. One choice right here is to take a look at AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X, with 16 Zen 3 cores. As famous within the graph above, it wins out towards the 10980XE in virtually all of our assessments, however the availability of the Ryzen 9 5950X is kind of restricted at the moment.

Prior to now we’ve steered Intel CPUs at this value phase, such because the 14-core 10940X ($800) and even the 18-core 10980XE ($995), when the timing is correct. Right now, the most effective supply I can see is on the Core i9-10850K, presently at $400 at Amazon. This can be a mainstream processor, so there are fewer PCIe lanes and DRAM channels in addition to no AVX512, but it surely’s a 10-core high-frequency processor. That is the processor Intel created as a result of its 10900K was too aggressive on frequency to offer affordable provide, so the 10850K was launched as a fall again as a result of it’s simpler to supply. It nonetheless sucks numerous juice (250W in our testing), in order that needs to be famous.


AVX Accelerated

2P: Intel Xeon Gold 6258R at $4100 (down from $4300)

1P (ECC): Intel Xeon W-3175X at $3075

I’ve added an AVX processor suggestion right here for the straightforward undeniable fact that if a person is prone to encounter AVX acceleration, it’s going to be with software program aimed toward prosumers and high-end desktop customers. Intel has been pushing its AVX512 help, even bringing it into its client laptop computer processors, in an effort to drive issues like DLBoost to reinforce AI throughput. One of many ache factors I’ve had with Intel during the last couple of years is definitely getting an inventory of AVX512 use instances: actual software program examples the place AVX512 is used. It usually will get added for very particular issues, like a sure filter in Photoshop, or a particular version of a benchmark, however finally these within the HPC house get probably the most from it. For these customers, this suggestion is for you.

Xeon W-3175X

The most effective high-end desktop off-the-shelf processor for AVX512 you should purchase is the Core i9-10980XE, with 18-cores that every one allow AVX512. For those who want ECC, then the Xeon W-3275/3175X goes to be your greatest wager, however it is going to value a bit extra and a particular Xeon W motherboard is required. If value isn’t any object, then shifting right into a twin socket system with Xeon Scalable processors may be preferable, though take be aware that this introduces a non-uniform reminiscence entry (NUMA) atmosphere, which might inhibit bulk knowledge switch if the software program will not be NUMA-aware. To be on the secure facet often single socket is most popular. The draw back to going Intel right here is discovering a CPU on the market.


Some customers would possibly level to the Xeon Scalable facet of the equation, for anybody needing extra Enterprise degree options. Within the Cascade Lake-SP Refresh cycle, Intel launched the Xeon Gold 6258R, with an inventory value of $3950. This processor is actually an identical in each solution to the top-of-the-line Xeon Platinum 8280 ($10009 checklist), besides it solely helps single and twin sockets. That’s a $6000-odd saving per-CPU in case you’re not going above 2P. These Xeon Gold elements presently retail for $4100. The choice is the Xeon W-3175X out there for $3075, with barely greater frequencies, however that may solely do a single socket. The Xeon W-3275 is technically newer, however costlier ($4449 1ku) and never technically a retail product-in-box product.

In the end, for the value of 1 Xeon Platinum 8280, customers can get two Xeon Gold 6258Rs, get double the uncooked AVX efficiency, and nonetheless have change left over.

Reminiscence Assist:

AMD EPYC as much as 4 TB per socket,

Intel Xeon with Optane DCPMM as much as 4.5 TB per socket,

or Intel Core i9-10900X (or any Core i9-109xx sequence)

Some customers are in it only for the reminiscence help, both as a result of a number of VMs or high-memory use-case necessities. For these, generally the reminiscence capability is extra necessary than the compute efficiency, because the software program requires workspace within the terabytes – on this case doubling as much as 128 GB of DRAM or extra is all the time extra helpful than including compute, because it reduces the strain on shifting knowledge backwards and forwards between DRAM and storage. Usually it’s on this occasion too that RDIMMs with ECC are advisable, simply because because the reminiscence capability will get bigger, the possibility of an errant bit flip does scale with reminiscence capability. The worth of the reminiscence on this product class usually outweighs the CPU value by an order of magnitude as effectively.

128 GB LRDIMM, authentic retail $4000+ (now $1200-ish)

On this occasion, one selection is an EPYC, one thing just like the 7232P at $481 will simply help 4 TB of LRDIMMs per socket out of the field. Thoughts you, in case you’re shopping for *that* a lot reminiscence, then going for the 64-core 7702P at $4750 isn’t that a lot of a leap.

The one solution to get extra reminiscence than this with an x86 processor could be to look to Intel Xeon Scalable processors geared up with Optane DC Persistent Reminiscence, permitting as much as 4.5 TB per socket. In an effort to get that quantity, it’s a must to put money into one of many M processors, which provides one other $3k to the price of the chip. The opposite issue right here is that Optane DCPMM isn’t freely on the market by way of normal channels: it usually comes as a part of an OEM system construct, and in consequence the person will find yourself with a help contact for a particular OEM. For greater companies and analysis communities, that needs to be appropriate – test along with your most popular OEM with what they’ve to supply.

I additionally wish to put in a phrase right here for Intel’s newest Cascade Lake-X processors. Usually, with 4 channels / eight reminiscence slots and 32 GB of DRAM per slot, this might max out at 256 GB. However apparently sufficient, when paired with an ASRock X299 motherboard (both the X299X Taichi, the X299 Metal Legend, or the X299 Creator), these motherboards can now help 128 GB RDIMMs, permitting for 1 TB of DRAM per single socket.

Right now ASRock is trying into additionally enabling LRDIMM help. This can be a comparatively new growth, posted by considered one of ASRock’s engineers to his private social media accounts, however the BIOSes required at the moment are public, and for customers invested within the Intel ecosystem that is effectively price a glance. 

Cores for Money:

AMD Threadripper 2950X ($400 on sale)

For anybody wanting probably the most cores for the least quantity of $$$, then our decide has to go to the 16-core Threadripper 2950X or 1950X when these are on sale. With the launch of the brand new 3000 sequence Threadripper processors, the earlier elements are sometimes discovered at low costs with some retailers trying to empty their inventory of them. We’ve seen 2950X processors as little as £330/$400 even on Amazon (presently $500), and 1950X for $250.

2950X eCommerce Hyperlink

Having 4 channel reminiscence and 64 PCIe lanes for prosumer workflows is nice – as we famous in our opinions these processors cowl most, however not all, the high-end desktop bases, so it’s price researching what works greatest for the supposed software program. However in comparison with a number of years previous {hardware}, that is very a lot a worthy improve for lots of people. The 2950X additionally performs higher on numerous workloads in comparison with the 2970WX/2990WX, and could be discovered for lots cheaper, making it a worthwhile buy.

HEDT on a Funds:

AMD Threadripper 1900X $240 (up from $213)

If you’d like a HEDT system on a price range, the query to ask is that if it must be new or used. In numerous skilled circumstances, new continues to be most popular, and the processor to get on the ladder right here is AMD’s Threadripper 1900X. The 8-core processor presents excessive capability reminiscence help, a number of PCIe lanes, and the low-end motherboards for Threadripper at the moment are coming into that low-to-mid vary pricing. In a sale, the 1900X could be discovered for underneath $200 (customers with more cash would possibly look for an inexpensive 1950X as an alternative), which looks as if a loopy low value for a high-end desktop processor. That being stated, until you want the PCIe lanes of the high-end desktop processor, in search of one of many newer 6-core Ryzen 5 5600X processors ($299 MSRP) may be extra suggested from a efficiency standpoint.

1920 eCommerce Hyperlink

On The Horizon: Not A Lot

We’re a 12 months on from AMD and Intel’s earlier HEDT launches, and neither firm appear that eager to push extra HEDT product onto the market. AMD is predicted to go for Threadripper primarily based on Zen 3 in some unspecified time in the future in 2021 (H1 fairly than H2 I’d suppose), and Intel’s HEDT roadmap is as unchanging as a drive on a desert bus. Any system bought in the present day will probably be set to final for a very long time.

Particulars on Intel’s future HEDT choices will not be clear within the slightest. We don’t know what Intel plans to launch on this house, or when. The corporate lately diminished the scope of its Cooper Lake Xeon platform to pick clients solely, which additionally places a cease to any HEDT product. Because of this the subsequent era Xeon coming to market needs to be Ice Lake on the corporate’s 10nm course of. With an enterprise launch date of Q1 202, there are many involved ideas as to what number of will truly be out there – will Ice Lake Xeon be usually availability, what is going to the efficiency be like, after which for the HEDT market, when will it filter down? These are all questions I’m wondering if Intel may even trace at proper now – for that manufacturing course of, the important thing could be making an attempt to fabricate probably the most value efficient elements that it may, and HEDT doesn’t maintain a candle to the premium Xeon elements.

There was some hinting that Intel might need one thing else up its sleeve. The corporate lately introduced new Rocket Lake client processors for early subsequent 12 months, which take the newer Ice Lake cellular CPU design on 10nm and ‘back-port’ to 14nm, with the IPC enchancment if not the method node enchancment. These Rocket Lake merchandise peak at 8-core, and will extra simply be expanded to 18-core and 28-core processors ought to Intel wish to put these back-ported cores into one thing greater than client merchandise. It creates an insurance coverage coverage and a possible route. Nevertheless, nothing out of Intel has steered that these backported cores are coming to HEDT any time quickly. 

For AMD, Threadripper on Zen 3 (in all probability prone to be known as Threadripper 5000) is predicted to be coming subsequent 12 months. As Zen 3 chiplets are straight drop-ins for Zen 2 chiplets, bring-up ought to go easily. However, these chiplets will initially be served in AMD’s EPYC processors first, as a result of that’s the place the upper margins are. If demand for Zen 3 Enterprise is excessive (primarily based on preliminary numbers I’d guess as a lot) and AMD can’t meet demand, then next-gen Threadripper might need to attend a bit bit longer.

Current Threadripper / EPYC CPU Evaluations (AMD)

Current HEDT / Xeon CPU Evaluations (Intel)

Our benchmark database could be discovered at

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