AMD vs. Intel at 16 cores: We test Ryzen Threadripper 1950X against Core i9-7960X

Who makes the best 16-core CPU? Now that AMD has its 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and Intel has its 16-core Core i9-7960X, we had a chance to find out when boutique custom PC builder Falcon Northwest built a pair of nearly-identical rigs that could truly go head to head. 

Our 16-core Falcon Northwest Talon specs

As Falcon Northwest is famous for, both Talon systems are over-the-top in specs and chassis. Each came equipped with:

  • 128GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Two Nvidia Titan Xp graphics cards in SLI
  • A pair of Samsung 1TB 960 Pro SSDs
  • A 6TB Western Digital hard drive

Both feature the same 1,000-watt EVGA Super Nova G3 PSU and the same custom closed-loop cooler system. The number and type of system fans are the same as well.

talon redclouds right hi Falcon Northwest

This Falcon Northwest Talon features a 16-core Threadripper 1950X, 128GB of RAM, and pair of Titan Xp graphics cards. The paint job is called Red Clouds.

Although both have the same storage subsystem, there is a slight variance. The pair of Samsung 960 Pro NVMe SSDs in the Intel system are configured as PCIe devices in RAID 0, while the AMD box keeps both Samsung 960 Pro drives as separate drives. 

We settled for this variance so as not to hobble the Intel box. After all, at the time we requested the machines in early September, RAID 0 using NVMe drives was available only on the Intel platform (not VROC, but using the X299 chipset) not on AMD’s X399. Since then, AMD has introduced support for NVMe RAID.

Looking at the read and write performance of both machines, the difference doesn’t seem to matter much. The Intel system has somewhat higher read speeds, while the AMD system has somewhat higher write speeds.

We matched carefully in most other areas.  Both CPUs are kept bone stock. At the time of our story, Falcon had qualified 128GB of RAM up to DDR4/3000 speeds for the Intel system, while the highest-clocked RAM on the Threadripper system when using 8 DIMMS was DDR4/2400. We decided to keep both machines at DDR4/2400 to match in price as well as capability.

Other than the CPU and motherboard, the only other big difference is the color.
The AMD machine is hand-painted in luscious Red Clouds, while the Intel machine is hand-painted in the striking Cobalt Clouds.


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