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Is the Ryzen 9 7950X overkill for gaming?

We find out whether or not the Ryzen 7950X is overkill for gaming.

Updated: Oct 10, 2022 11:24 am
is the Ryzen 9 7950X overkill for gaming

On August 27th, 2022, AMD lifted the veil from its brand new Ryzen 7000 series of desktop CPUs, based on the Zen 4 architecture. Together with the new CPUs, the new AMD AM5 platform has been a target of much conjecture and speculation, but AMD’s announcement laid out all the facts.

Now Read: Ryzen 9 7900X review

AMD announced four new CPUs for the initial wave of the Ryzen 7000 series. The flagship AMD Ryzen 9 7950X leads the charge, followed by the Ryzen 9 7900X, the Ryzen 7 7700X, and the Ryzen 5 7600X CPUs. We see an improvement in boost clocks across the board when compared to the outgoing Ryzen 5000 series, while the TDP numbers can be seen creeping up as well.

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AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Cores
16
Threads
32
Base Speed
4.5GHz
Boost Speed
5.7GHz
Cache
64MB
Socket
AM5

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is the new king of the ring when it comes to AMD processors on the consumer desktop platform. AMD has priced it at $699, which is $100 less than the launch price of the previous-gen flagship, the Ryzen 9 5950X.

Ryzen 9 7950X Specs

AMD has not changed the core count of the new Zen 4 CPUs, rather focusing on boost behavior and architectural improvements. Going purely by the spec sheet, the Ryzen 9 7950X puts up some impressive numbers:

  • 12 cores 
  • 24 threads 
  • Base clock 4.5GHz
  • Boost clock 5.7GHz 
  • L3 cache 64MB
  • Default TDP 170W 
  • iGPU: 2 CU 2200MHz

A quick look at the specs reveals that AMD has really focused on the maximum boost clock as well as the power budget for the CPUs in this generation. The Ryzen 9 7950X can boost up to 5.7 GHz (if the power and thermal budgets allow it), making it an extremely competitive choice for gaming as well as multi-threaded workloads.

Moreover, AMD has also increased the TDP of the Ryzen 9 7950X to a whopping 170W, a monumental 62% increase over the outgoing Ryzen 9 5950X. This will allow the 16-core behemoth to hit much higher boost clocks and sustain them over longer periods, but the extra heat output will be a major point of concern.

Is the Ryzen 9 7950X overkill for gaming?

Ryzen 9 7950X

Even though the Ryzen 9 7950X is the best that AMD has on offer right now, it might not be the ideal pick for most gamers out there. Sure, the Ryzen 9 7950X is a productivity monster thanks to its 16 cores and 32 threads, but gaming performance does not necessarily scale the same way with cores.

Gaming performance is more dependent on the single-threaded performance of the CPU, and the latency (or lack thereof) between the different cores of the CPU. This is exactly why Intel enjoyed a long period of success over AMD in terms of raw gaming performance. Their cores, although fewer in number, were clocked higher than competitive AMD cores, and had lower latency overall.

Modern games still do not take advantage of more than six cores, at a stretch. That is not to say that there is no advantage to 8-Core and 16-Core CPUs, but there is a point of diminishing returns when you’re talking strictly about gaming. Even though the Ryzen 9 7950X is one of the absolute fastest gaming CPUs out there, the 6-Core Ryzen 5 7600X and the 8-Core 7700X do not lag behind significantly.

AMD has packed a lot of cores and threads in the Ryzen 9 7950X, making it the default king of the hill when it comes to the 7950X’s productivity performance according to initial benchmarks. The sheer number of cores, along with the architectural improvements of Zen 4, make the 7950X arguably the best CPU for productivity at the time of writing.

It can be said, however, that the Ryzen 9 7950X is a bit overkill if you want a CPU strictly for gaming. There are more affordable options out there that can provide a similar gaming performance without completely breaking the bank.

Ryzen 7000 series on the AM5 motherboard

ASUS Motherboards

Along with the new Ryzen 7000 series CPUs, AMD has also released the brand new AM5 platform to go along with these processors. The AM5 platform replaces the outgoing AM4 platform and brings a ton of generational improvements along with it.

Firstly, AMD is using a completely new socket for these new CPUs. Yes, the new AM5 socket is LGA instead of PGA, which means that both Intel and AMD are on the same page about this one factor at least.

Moreover, the new X670 and X670E chipsets on the AM5 platform also support DDR5 memory, exclusively. AMD has taken a bit of a different stance than Intel here, as they have dropped support for DDR4 memory entirely. This can have an impact on the overall entry cost of the platform.

PCI Express 5.0 is also a highlight feature of the new AM5 platform, although it is yet to receive widespread adoption when it comes to storage devices. We do see some PCIe 5.0 SSDs starting to roll out, and Nvidia’s new RTX 4000-series GPUs also support this technology which is a nice touch.

The mid-range B650 motherboards are also expected to hit the market in October, driving down the price of the platform.

Final Word

Competition is back, and it is stronger than ever. The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X leads the charge for the Red Team as it goes toe-to-toe with the Intel Core i9 12900K when it comes to gaming performance. However, for most gamers, it might be a bit overkill to choose the 16-Core 7950X purely for gaming. 

The Ryzen 9 7950X is more suited to a productivity-focused workstation machine where it can be allowed to really spread its wings. For gamers, there are options out there that provide a much better value for money when it comes to gaming performance.

Is the Ryzen 9 7950X overkill for gaming?

Whilst the Ryzen 9 7950X is an incredibly powerful CPU there are better options out there for gamers, such as the Ryzen 7 7700X. The Ryzen 9 7950X is more suited to productivity and workstation tasks.

Is the Ryzen 9 7950X worth it?

Yes, but it depends on what you’re going to use it for. The Ryzen 9 7950X is a very powerful CPU well suited to productivity and workstation workloads. So if you do a lot of rendering, simulation, or creative work, then this may be the CPU for you.

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