AMD's 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX CPU is now available

The chip that AMD is billing as the "world's most powerful desktop processor," the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, is now available and shipping to customers.

AMD's claim that the 2990WX is tops in the high-end desktop (HEDT) market is based in part on its high core and thread counts. It has 32 cores and 64 threads to throw at workloads, and is 53 percent faster in multi-threaded tasks than Intel's flagship Core i9-7980XE, according to AMD. It also delivers 47 percent more rendering performance than Intel's top desktop chip, AMD says.

We have not tested those performance claims yet, but it is reasonable to expect the Threadripper 2990WX to chew through multi-threaded tasks faster than the Core i9-7980XE, which has 18 cores and 36 threads. AMD's processor wields almost twice as many cores.

"We created Ryzen Threadripper processors because we saw an opportunity to deliver unheard-of levels of multi-threaded computing for the demanding needs of creators, gamers, and PC enthusiasts in the HEDT market," said Jim Anderson, senior vice president and general manager, Computing and Graphics Business Group, AMD. "With the 2nd Gen processor family we took that challenge to a whole new level – delivering the biggest, most powerful desktop processor the world has ever seen."

For the most part, games will not make full use of all those cores and threads. You would be better off buying a second generation AMD Ryzen processor like the Ryzen 5 2600X, or 8th generation Intel Core CPU like the Core i7-8700K (see our CPU buyer's guide for several recommendations).

That said, if you can put all those cores and threads to use, the Threadripper 2990WX is now available for $1,799 at places like Amazon. Or you can wait for the rest of AMD's second generation Threadripper lineup. Here's a look at what's coming:

HEDT processors come with a pricing premium compared to mainstream CPUs, though AMD's parts are cheaper than Intel's nearest equivalents—the Core i9-7980XE, for example, sells for $1,879.99 on Newegg. The X399 motherboards for Threadripper, and socket TR4 compatible CPU coolers, also carry a price premium, but that's typical of the HEDT market.

If you're wondering about the per-core cost, we did the math. Here's how it breaks down for AMD:

  • 2990WX 32 @ $1799 is $56.22 per core.
  • 2970WX 24 @ $1299 is $54.12 per core.
  • 2950WX 16 @ $899 is $56.19 per core.
  • 2920WX 12 @ $649 is $54.08 per core.
  • 2700X 8 @ $320 is $40 per core.
  • 2700 8 @ $280 is $35 per core.
  • 2600X 6 @ $223 is $37.17 per core.
  • 2600 6 @ $166 is $27.67 per core.

And here's how it breaks down for Intel:

  • i9-7980XE 18 @ $1780 is $98.89 per core.
  • i9-7960X 16 @ $1400 is $87.50 per core.
  • i9-7940X 14 @ $1150 is $82.14 per core.
  • i9-7920X 12 @ $1000 is $83.33 per core.
  • i9-7900X 10 @ $865 is $86.50 per core.
  • i7-7820X 8 @ $459 is $57.36 per core.
  • i7-8700K 6 @ $347 is $57.73 per core.
  • i5-8600K 6 @ $255 is $42.5 per core (but only 6-thread).
  • i5-8400 6 @ $169 is $28.17 per core (but only 6-thread).

There is more to performance than just the raw core and thread counts (and clockspeeds), but this gives you a general idea of what you are paying for, in terms of specs. The short takeaway is that AMD is providing more cores (and threads) than Intel at every price level, and for multi-threaded workloads the result is that AMD wins most value comparisons.