The cheapest second-gen Threadripper is now a 12-core CPU priced at $649

AMD on Monday added two new second generation Threadripper processors to its product stack, and in the process it lowered the cost of entry for enthusiasts who want to splurge on a high-end desktop (HEDT) chip based on the latest Ryzen silicon.

Previously the least expensive second-gen Threadripper part was the Threadripper 2950X, priced at $899. Now that distinction belongs to the new Threadripper 2920X, a 12-core/24-thread CPU clocked at 3.5GHz to 4.3GHz with 38MB of total cache and a 180W TDP. It's $150 cheaper at $649 and will be available today.

"The dramatic transformation in the HEDT and overall PC market is driven by AMD leadership and innovation, and the AMD Ryzen Threadripper family is central to this global excitement," said Saeid Moshkelani, senior vice president and general manager, Client Compute, AMD. "We are expanding this excitement while also ensuring the HEDT market remains accessible to a broader range of creators and gamers with two new Threadripper processors that start at $649."

AMD's other new addition is the Threadripper 2970WX, priced at $1,299. This is a 24-core/48-thread CPU clocked at 3GHz to 4.2GHz, with 76MB of total cache.

We noted in August that the Threadripper 2920X is arguably the most intriguing of the bunch, given its core/thread counts and $649 price tag. It's still overkill for gaming—a second generation Ryzen processor like the Ryzen 7 2700X offers more bang for your buck—but for users who want to take the plunge into Threadripper territory, the price is certainly more palatable. It will also be interesting to see where street pricing eventually lands once the inevitable sales and price cuts arrive.

One angle that AMD is pitching to gamers is ray tracing performance, compared to Intel's chips.

"Both the 2970WX and 2920X processors offer up to 32 percent faster performance in ray tracing, and 60 percent faster encryption for creators compared to the Core i9-7960X and Core i7-7820X respectively," AMD says.

The ray tracing claim is based on a handful of benchmarks run internally at AMD, including POV-Ray 3.7 nT, Corona 1.3, V-Ray 1.0.8, DaVinci Resolve 15, and Maya 2018. How ray tracing performance carries over to actual games when paired with a GeForce RTX graphics card remains to be seen.

Gaming alone shouldn't be a reason to consider a Threadripper chip. HEDT parts are geared toward heavy lifting, things like video encoding and content creation chores that can stress the additional cores and threads (compared to mainstream desktop chips).

In any event, professionals and enthusiasts alike now have more second-gen Threadripper options to choose from.