AMD "Zen 3" is here, and we have with us the Ryzen 9 5950X, the absolute king of the series. This 16-core/32-thread processor is designed to bring the HEDT (high-end desktop) segment down to the mainstream desktop platform; that is, for those who don't care much about a quad-channel memory interface or tons of PCIe lanes. The fact that HEDT chips don't dominate mainstream chips at gaming goes to show that quad-channel isn't all that relevant to the client desktop segment. With the 5950X, you could get yourself HEDT-kind multi-core muscle, higher memory clock headroom to make up the bandwidth deficit, and a more affordable platform since the 5950X is compatible with even mainstream chipsets, such as the AMD B550.
The "Zen 3" microarchitecture introduces a massive 19% IPC uplift over "Zen 2," which already changed the desktop processor market in a big way. Higher IPC means higher single-threaded performance, which conversely means improved gaming performance, with AMD claiming the Ryzen 9 5000-series as having beaten the fastest Intel Core i9 "Comet Lake" part at gaming. Productivity performance should naturally be higher since you have 60% more of these faster cores than the i9-10900K.
The AMD Ryzen 5 5950X in this review uses the "Zen 3" architecture, which is a combination of micro and macro changes to the "Zen" architecture. At a macro level, we see AMD practically doing away with the 4-core CCX design, resulting in each of the two 7 nm "Zen 3" chiplets having a monolithic group of eight cores sharing a large 32 MB L3 cache. At a micro-level, AMD has invested heavily in improving the various components inside the core, resulting in that sweet 19% IPC gain. Together, the higher IPC cores and improved multi-core topology should put the 5950X on firmer ground against not just Intel's LGA1200 "Comet Lake" parts, but also its Core X "Cascade Lake-X" parts that go up to 18 cores.
AMD is launching the Ryzen 9 5950X at $799, making it the priciest mainstream desktop processor, which is right up there with HEDT parts. Since this is a Socket AM4 part that doesn't temper down its clock speeds to afford such a large core count, AMD claims that the 5950X will give you the best of both worlds: leadership AAA gaming performance and productivity that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars compared to an HEDT. In this review, we test the Ryzen 9 5950X against a large selection of processors.