If you're gaming and creating content on an AM4 system this $375 Ryzen 9 5950X is the perfect drop-in upgrade

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X processor retail packaging against a teal background
(Image credit: AMD)
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X | 16 cores | 32 threads | 4.9 GHz boost | 64MB L3 | 105 W TDP | AM4 socket | $799$375.23 at Newegg (save $423.77 with promo code STDDR933)

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X | 16 cores | 32 threads | 4.9 GHz boost | 64MB L3 | 105 W TDP | AM4 socket | $799 $375.23 at Newegg (save $423.77 with promo code STDDR933)
Yes it's a last-gen CPU from AMD, and it's not the best gaming processor you can buy, but this is an absurdly low price for 32 threads of Zen 3 processing capability. It still performs mighty well and if you do content creation alongside gaming, it's a great upgrade for an AM4 system.

Price check: Amazon $375.26

While AMD's 3D V-cache models garner all the headlines and praise from gamers, it's worth remembering that before they came along, the most powerful Ryzen CPU you could slap into a desktop PC was the 5950X.

Underneath the big heat spreader, there are three chiplets—two CCDs (Core Complex Dies) handling all the compute work and another managing the RAM, PCIe lanes, and other tasks. Each CCD houses eight Zen 3 cores, 16 threads, for a total of 16 cores, 32 threads. The whole CPU can boost up to 4.9 GHz and while that's not as high as the latest generation of AMD processors, it's still more than fast enough. As we found when we reviewed it, the 5950X isn't slow by any measure.

Unlike Intel's CPUs with lots of cores, the 5950X's are all identical and Windows doesn't need to use a sophisticated thread manager to make the best use of it. That means it's an ideal upgrade for anyone wanting to stay on the AM4 platform, especially it's using Windows 10.

Now, if that's you and you use your PC for nothing but gaming, then the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is a better choice, and you can pick one up for just $305 at Amazon. But if you like to do lots of productivity tasks and content creation on your machine, then having more than 16 threads is very handy—this is the real strength of the 5950X.

And don't think you'll have to get a massive cooler to keep everything under control. With a TDP of just 105 W and a PPT (Package Power Tracking) of 143 W, it's within the bounds of any of the best air coolers to manage that, though you're probably better off using an AIO liquid cooler.

As a comparison, Intel's 32 thread Core i9 13900K has a TDP of 125 W and standard PL2 value of 253 W. AMD's power efficiency is well known and in content creation applications, the 5950X will breeze through most things, all while sipping power like a refined noble. And if it's still too hot for you liking, just activate ECO mode in the motherboard BIOS and watch those temperatures tumble.

When it first launched back in November 2020, the only blot in the 5950X's homework book was its MSRP of $799. How things have changed! It's no longer the very best CPU you can get but for less than $380, it's a veritable bargain.

Nick Evanson
Hardware Writer

Nick, gaming, and computers all first met in 1981, with the love affair starting on a Sinclair ZX81 in kit form and a book on ZX Basic. He ended up becoming a physics and IT teacher, but by the late 1990s decided it was time to cut his teeth writing for a long defunct UK tech site. He went on to do the same at Madonion, helping to write the help files for 3DMark and PCMark. After a short stint working at Beyond3D.com, Nick joined Futuremark (MadOnion rebranded) full-time, as editor-in-chief for its gaming and hardware section, YouGamers. After the site shutdown, he became an engineering and computing lecturer for many years, but missed the writing bug. Cue four years at TechSpot.com and over 100 long articles on anything and everything. He freely admits to being far too obsessed with GPUs and open world grindy RPGs, but who isn't these days?