Ryzen 9 3950x vs i9 9900k: Which high-end CPU should you choose?

If you have trouble reading and understanding product specifications, you are in the right place! Choosing a new processor can turn into a nightmare since there are many technical terms to understand. So, to save your precious time, we have decided to compare the Ryzen 9 3950x vs i9 9900k and point out all you have to know about these two powerful processors!    

3950x vs 9900k

When it comes to choosing a manufacturer, things are simple. You can choose between the two most popular CPU manufacturers on the market – Intel or AMD. Compared to the AMD Ryzen 9 line, Intel i9 processors have higher speeds but fewer cores and threads.

Is this the case with these two specific models? Let’s find out! 

Ryzen 9 3950xCore i9 9900k
Number of cores168
Number of threads3216
Base clock speed3.5 GHz3.6 GHz
Max clock speed4.7 GHz5.0 GHz
L3 cache64MB16 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Integrated graphicsIntel UHD Graphics 630
Memory TypeDDR4 (3200 MHz)DDR4 (2666 MHz)
SocketAM4FCLGA1151
TDP105 W95 W
Max temperature No official data100°C
UnlockedYesYes

Ryzen 9 3950x

AMD Ryzen 9 3950x
AMD Ryzen 9 3950x

Pros 

  • Twice as many cores as Intel’s i9 processor 
  • Significantly more threads
  • Great for video rendering and 3D animation
  • Unlocked for overclocking

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with integrated graphics
  • Lower clock speeds compared to the Intel i9

i9 9900k

Intel Core i9 9900k
Intel Core i9 9900k

Pros 

  • Higher clock speeds
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics
  • Lower TDP
  • Unlocked for overclocking

Cons

  • A low number of cores and threads compared to the Ryzen 9 3950x
  • Slower RAM speeds

Key Specifications

A CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the base unit of every computer. The main goal of each processor is to solve logical operations and execute instructions given by a specific program.

When choosing a processor, you should have enough relevant information to choose the one that suits your needs. In this article, we compare two specific models, 3950x vs 9900k

Cores

When comparing processors, people usually talk about their speeds. Although the CPU speed is a significant indicator in choosing a new processor, we need to pay more attention to cores. 

If you want to find a powerful processor, you should take the number of cores as an important indicator of the CPU power. The more cores a processor has, the better performance!  

CPU Cores
CPU Cores

But let’s find out what the term core means? Simply put, a core is an independent processor within the processor. One processor can have two, four, six, eight, or even more cores! The most powerful processors on the market have around 50 cores! 

All new programs, especially high-demanding video rendering or 3D animation, can take advantage of all the cores on the processor. Therefore, if you work in these applications, you might consider the Ryzen 9 3950x processor a great option since it has 16 cores!

Winner: Ryzen 9 3950x

Clock Speed

The most commonly highlighted aspects of CPUs are clock speeds and the number of cores. The clock speed ​​is calculated in gigahertz (GHz)

However, it is important to know that modern processors adjust their speed according to the number of tasks they receive and their temperature. That is why we have two types of speed – a base (minimum) speed and turbo (maximum) speed.  

For example, if you open a video editing app and start working, your processor will probably increase its speed to ensure comfortable work. The result of this might be a higher CPU temperature. However, the processor can increase its speed to the maximum level

With that in mind, we should mention that the maximum turbo speed of the i9 9900k processor is 5.0 GHz. So it is a clear winner of this segment since the Ryzen 9 model has a maximum speed of 4.7 GHz. 

When it comes to base clock speeds, the situation is almost the same. The Intel i9 processor runs at 3.6 GHz, while the AMD model has a slightly lower speed of 3.5 GHz.

Winner: i9 9900k

Threads

Many processors have multiple input capabilities, allowing one core to create two threads. This is called Hyper-Threading. AMD calls it Simultaneous Multithreading. These technologies divide one physical core into two virtual cores. In other words, a single-core processor works as if it has two cores. 

single threading vs hyper threading
Source: GetHow

As you can see in the picture above, the single-threading processor performs one process at a time. On the other hand, the Hyper-Threading technology allows performing two or more processes simultaneously

By using this technology, the processor handles tasks more efficiently. This improves the entire system’s performance, including the performance of high-demand applications, such as video editing and 3D modeling applications

Therefore, if you work in applications that require a lot of hardware resources, it might be a good idea to equip your configuration with a multi-threaded processor

On the other hand, a multi-core processor might be a good choice if you use your device for basic things, like surfing the net or watching movies. 

To conclude, if you want to do more things at once without worrying that your system might crash, invest in a processor with many cores and threads. With that in mind, the Ryzen 9 3950x stands out as the best solution as it has 16 cores and 32 threads!

Winner: Ryzen 9 3950x 

Socket

The motherboard is the main part of the computer that connects all the components. It enables communication between various parts of the computer. 

One of the key parts of the motherboard is the socket. The socket establishes communication between the processor and the motherboard. It also determines what type of processor can be placed in the motherboard. 

Unfortunately, this implies that it is not possible to mount any processor on any motherboard. The last universal socket supported by all CPU manufacturers was Socket 7. Today, it is impossible to put an AMD processor in a motherboard supported by an Intel socket.

So whether you are going to get an Intel or AMD processor, make sure it is compatible with your motherboard

The Ryzen 9 3950x is compatible with the AM4 socket, while the i9 9900k uses the FCLGA1151 socket. 

Cache

The cache is a memory that bridges the gap in speed between a fast processor and slow RAM. This memory is very fast but expensive, which is why its capacity is much smaller than the capacity of RAM. 

Instead of constantly reading and writing the same data in RAM, the processor does the same thing with its cache, thus saving time. In this case, the cache speeds up all processes that the CPU performs more often than the others.

Cache memory has several levels: L1, L2, and L3. L1 is the fastest but also the smallest in capacity compared to L2 and L3. 

A larger cache means a faster computer. For example, the Ryzen 9 processor has 64 MB, while the i9 has 16 MB of cache.

Winner: Ryzen 9 3950x 

Integrated graphics

Before you buy a new processor with integrated graphics, there are some things you need to know. Firstly, a CPU with integrated graphics doesn’t have its own memory. Instead, it uses RAM resources. Therefore, it is recommended to consider how much RAM you need to make your system operational. 

Secondly, integrated graphics is not good for gaming. This is only a temporary solution until you buy a discrete graphics card. A discrete graphics card has its own memory and graphics processor that significantly increases your system’s graphics performance.

When it comes to our 3950x vs 9900k comparison, only the i9 model has integrated graphics. It comes with the Intel UHD Graphics 630. 

With this integrated solution, you might be able to play popular video games (GTA 5, Fortnite, Dirt Rally) at 720p on medium settings or 1080p on low settings. So if you are planning to buy a discrete card soon, this might be a great temporary solution.   

Last but not least, integrated graphics bring many benefits. For example, your configuration might consume less power and produce less heat. If this sounds interesting to you, the i9 9900k may be a good purchase!  

Winner: i9 9900k 

TDP

Whether you buy the Ryzen 9 or Intel i9 model, at some point, you may face high temperatures. High CPU temperatures may occur when you are running heavy programs. 

A high-demanding application requires a higher clock speed and more electricity. Unfortunately, that electricity usually turns into heat inside the processor. That is why it is important to have a good cooling system that can dissipate heat and avoid overheating that can lead to damage.

However, to determine what temperatures your processor is designed for, you need to check out its TDP and the maximum temperature

TDP (Thermal Design Power) is expressed in watts. It is a measure of the maximum amount of heat that the CPU generates when running heavy programs. 

On the other hand, the max temperature is the maximum allowed processor temperature defined by the manufacturer. 

In general, the normal CPU temperature is up to 50ºC in low load mode and up to 70 in high mode. However, these values may vary depending on the manufacturer. For example, one processor may normally operate at temperatures above 70ºC, while another may experience serious damage at 60ºC. 

We were unable to find information about the maximum temperature on the official AMD website. Therefore, we can’t compare the Ryzen 9 3950x and i9 9900k using the maximum temperature criteria. 

However, the Ryzen 9 processor has a TDP of 105W, while the Intel i9 has a TDP of 95W. This means that the i9 heats up less under high voltage even though it has higher clock speeds.

Winner: i9 9900k 

Unique features

Overclocking

Overclocking increases the system performance with no additional costs. In other words, you can increase the speed of your CPU above its factory values without buying a new processor. 

To be able to overclock your processor, it has to be unlocked. Many CPU manufacturers allow overclocking. For example, the Ryzen 9 and Intel i9 processor are both unlocked for overclocking. If this feature is important to you, you won’t go wrong if you choose either of these two processors.

Ram compatibility

In general, when you want to buy new components for your PC or laptop, you need to make sure everything is compatible. When it comes to RAM compatibility, you need to pay attention to the type of RAM and the speed of RAM. 

Both processors support the same type of RAM – DDR4. But the Ryzen 9 processor supports higher RAM speeds – up to 3200 MHz which is slightly more than the Intel i9 limit of 2666 MHz.

Fan/cooling

A good cooling system is a guarantee of a long processor life. Therefore, when choosing a new processor, it might be a good idea to choose the one that comes with a cooling system. 

Unfortunately, both processors we test in this article do not come with a cooler, so you have to buy it yourself. AMD recommends liquid cooling, while Intel recommends investing in its BXTS15A or BXTS13X thermal solutions

Conclusion

Finally, we have enough relevant information to claim a winner of this 3950x vs 9900k comparison. But each processor has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we will point out the differences between these two products and help you make a choice! 

Use the Ryzen 9 3950x if you: 

  • Use video rendering or 3D animation programs
  • Want to overclock the processor eventually
  • Would like to work in several programs at the same time
  • Prefer high memory speeds
  • Need more cache memory 

Use the i9 9900k if you:

  • Like high clock speeds
  • Would like to play popular games on low or medium settings
  • Intend to buy a high-quality graphics card and enjoy playing games on high settings
  • Want to have the option to overclock the processor
  • Want to have a processor that doesn’t heat up too much
About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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