AMD’s 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X ($999 on Amazon) can be an angry Godzilla stomping his way through downtown Tokyo. Those puny 8-core, 6-core, and 4-core CPUs? They’re just tanks and army trucks to be punted over the city.

Yes, it’s that good.

But before you get, there’s a lot you have to know in what is arguably the most effective consumer CPU ever unleashed after mankind.

Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
AMD’s 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is arguably the most effective consumer CPU on earth today.

What is Threadripper
Ryzen Threadripper’s name lets you know its lineage: the ground-breaking Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 3 CPUs which may have made AMD a contender again, after years of watching Intel dominate.

AMD
Each Zen core complex comprises of four individual CPUs. Two of the complexes constitute an 8-core Ryzen die.

While Intel currently builds its CPUs around a monolithic little bit of silicon for most of its cores, AMD has designed Ryzen to be modular at the chip level. The essential building block of most Ryzen CPUs are two 4-core complexes, or CCXes, joined by AMD’s high-speed Infinity Fabric interconnect. Every Ryzen 7, for instance, comes with an 8-core die including the one below.

AMD
AMD’s new Ryzen Threadripper is founded on the same dual 4-core complex (CCX), so rather than one chip, you get two.

To access 16 cores in Threadripper, AMD uses the same high-speed Infinity Fabric to become listed on two 8-core dies. The 12-core version also joins two 8-core dies, but each one of the 4-core CCXs has one processor core disabled.

AMD
A 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X involves two 8-core dies linked using AMD’s high-speed Infinity Fabric.

But wait: You’ve seen pictures of the within of a Threadripper and there are four chips-are those two other 8-core dies just waiting to be enabled? Nope. It’s no secret that Threadripper reuses hardware from AMD’s 32-core, server-focused Epyc CPU, but AMD isn’t giving us 32-core consumer CPUs today. Two of these “chips” are actually dummy pieces to include structural support for the cooler which will be clamped onto the CPU.

der8auer
Two of the 8-core “dies” on the 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X are simply dummies to support heat spreader.

With great cores, come great resources
AMD actually doubles down twice with Threadripper specs, providing you double the quantity of CPU cores and double the quantity of memory channels. In addition, it vastly escalates the PCIe lanes.

[ Further reading: AMD Ryzen Threadripper X399 motherboards compared: Specs, prices, and features ]

For instance, the mainstream Ryzen line supports dual-channel DDR4 memory. Threadripper supports quad-channel DDR4. Unlike Intel, whose strategy is to disable features on its Core-series CPUs to push persons to its pricier Xeon chips, AMD leaves in support for ECC RAM to greatly help correct single-bit errors. AMD also says Threadripper should technically have the ability to support up to 2TB of RAM, although the business hasn’t validated this because there are no DIMMs that support the capability yet.

Asus
This Asus ROG Zenith Extreme takes good thing about the 64 PCIe lanes in the brand new Threadripper CPU.

As for PCIe, as the mainstream Ryzen chips give a pedestrian 20 lanes for support of graphics cards or SSDs, Threadripper offers an impressive 64 lanes. Of these 64, four are being used to hook up south bridge, leaving 60 open to hook up up to seven different simultaneous PCIe devices. Which means up to four GPUs along with three NVMe PCIe drives.

Compare AMD’s generous method of Intel’s careful rationing: The $1,000 10-core Core i9-7900X, for instance, includes a decent 44 lanes of PCIe, however the $599 8-core Core i7-7820X has only 28. Even AMD’s cheapest Threadripper up to now, the 8-core Threadripper 1900X, includes a full 64 lanes of PCIe support.

The Lineup
Despite many unsubstantiated rumors of a huge lineup of Threadripper CPUs, AMD is officially launching only three CPUs today (the 8-core Threadripper 1900X will ship in some more weeks). The lineup (see below) is sparser than Intel’s currently, but an unintentional leak by motherboard vendors indicates the business has lower-wattage, non-“X” versions coming, too.

IDG
AMD’s Threadripper lineup is sparse, but it’s enough to upset Intel’s Core i9 lineup.

Intel’s own lineup looks more impressive, but so far, the business has shipped only the 10-core Core i9-7900X and its own 8-core, 6-core, and 4-core siblings.

IDG
Intel’s new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs look impressive as an organization, but only the lower-end (4-core to 10-core) parts have shipped up to now.

Installation: Browse the manual. Seriously.
No matter just how many systems you’ve built, in the event that you buy Threadripper, be kind to yourself and browse the manual. Needlessly to say, Threadripper brings a fresh CPU socket, officially called sTR4. As the mainstream Ryzen features the pin-grid array acquainted with AMD fans, Threadripper moves to an LGA, or land-grid array, which will be more familiar to Intel fans.

Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
With Threadripper, the CPUs no more feature easily bendable pins. Instead, the easily bendable pins are moved to the motherboard.

LGA moves the delicate pins to the motherboard rather than the CPU. Which is way better? From a customer viewpoint, it probably depends. Mash a pin on a $550 motherboard badly, and you trash the motherboard. Mash it on a $999 CPU, and you trash the CPU.

One thing we can say for certain: Installing a Threadripper is unlike anything you’ve done before. That doesn’t mean you must sweat bullets, but don’t just dive involved with it without first reading the documentation and watching an effective installation video (preferably not ours, which we did dead-tired and blind).

Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
Failure to utilize the included torque wrench could bring about a machine that won’t POST. AMD also contains an adapter bracket that fits many popular Asetek-based coolers.

The three essential takeaways from your own manual-reading and video-watching ought to be these:

You must keep carefully the plastic orange carrier on the CPU. The CPU can’t be installed without it.
You must utilize the torque wrench that’s packed in to the bottom of the Threadripper box (see above).
Pay attention to the right sequence for installing and uninstalling the CPU.
Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
There are two covers in the sTR4 socket. Leave the black the one which protects the delicate pins until you’re prepared to put the CPU set up.

To set up it, you open the socket by loosening three T20 Torx screws with the AMD-provided wrench. Take away the top-level protective plate and insert the complete CPU with the orange plastic carrier. Slide the CPU until it clicks into place or is evidently in the bottom of the assembly.

Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
A Threadripper CPU is preparing to be installed.

Once you’re sure the CPU is in the carrier correctly, take away the protective cover over the socket and gently lower the CPU into place. Finally, you carefully tighten all three Torx screws with the provided AMD torque wrench.

Once more: Don’t make an effort to muddle through this without at least familiarizing yourself with the procedure.

Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
The Threadripper includes a torque wrench and an adapter for some Asetek-based CLC coolers in the box. Although we removed the outer orange CPU carrier (lower right) to take pretty pictures, AMD recommends leaving it set up at all times.

Meet up with the new Game Mode
Before we reach the all-important performance section, you have to know about Threadripper’s new Gaming Mode. Most persons don’t buy 16-core CPUs to play video gaming, however the world is a-changing, and several professional gamers and streamers need the capability to play games at high frame rates and in addition edit this content once it’s done.

IDG
The brand new Game Mode helps address legacy games that can’t handle the crazy core count and in addition switches to a NUMA memory mode.

When it designed Threadripper, AMD says it realized the high-thread-count CPU didn’t always perform at its best for a few games. Remember, it’s made using two separate chips, each using its own dual-channel memory controller. Out from the box, Threadripper supports Uniform Memory Access mode, which spreads the memory access between both memory controllers. The power is greater memory bandwidth, but often higher latency. Some games, AMD says, just want low latency.

To handle this, AMD has introduced a fresh Game Mode that switches the machine to Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), or what AMD calls Local Mode. Local Mode essentially shunts all memory usage of one memory controller to lessen latency. Memory access that would go to the other memory controller can be done, but it’s finished with higher latency.

Threadripper’s crazy core count has another unintended consequence: AMD says some older games crashed in its tests. This isn’t a problem with Threadripper, AMD notes, however the games themselves, because they just can’t handle the amount of CPU cores.

To address this issue, Game Mode essentially tells Windows to identify only 8 of the 16 CPUs in the machine. An updated Ryzen Master Utility enables you to switch between Game Mode when it’s necessary for older games, and Creator Mode when you wish your entire CPU cores and more memory bandwidth.

IDG
Game Mode does lower memory latency by a substantial amount.

Does it work? Yes. Although we won’t enter its effect on gaming until later, we did gauge the modes’ effect on latency and memory bandwidth. You can observe how Game Mode lowers memory latency in the chart above.

As you can plainly see within the next chart, however, Game Mode gets the opposite influence on memory bandwidth. Because Game Mode permits NUMA/Local Mode, you quit a substantial amount of memory bandwidth

IDG
Switching from the default Uniform Memory Access mode to Non-Uniform Memory Access mode trades off a substantial amount of bandwidth.

What’s right? Well, it’s complicated. Gears of War Ultimate, AMD says, likes low memory latency, so Game Mode ought to be on for that game. Rise of the Tomb Raider likes more CPU cores, so maybe you’ll want to buy off. Far Cry 4 likes low core-to-core latency, so maybe you’ll want to change on Game Mode.

AMD
Games often require various things for the best performance.

If this all sounds much too complicated when you want to play a game, understand that generally this is merely being nit-picky. Any modern game paired with today’s powerful GPU and a Threadripper CPU will run fine at normal resolutions and visual quality settings. AMD just wants gamers to have significantly more granular control to allow them to wring more performance out from the new CPU. Some could be defer by this complexity, but if you’re really investing in a 16-core, 32-thread CPU simply for conventional gaming, you’re carrying it out wrong. A normal Ryzen or Kaby Lake CPU is most likely better for that purpose.