A superb showcase for AMD’s Ryzen 9 3000 series, which form a powerful basis for a professional workstation
- Fantastic processor makes for ultra fast speeds
- Phenomenal image editing and video encoding
- Impressive storage
- Objectively quite expensive
When AMD released the Ryzen 7 and Threadripper, the company was clearly back in the processor business for real. But that was just the opening salvo. This month, we see the arrival of the AMD Ryzen 9 3000 series, based around the Zen 2 architecture. Where the Ryzen 7 2000 series was a tweak of the original 1000 series, including a die shrink, the 3000 series is much more of a leap.
Our first look comes in the shape of the Ryzen 9 3900X delivered in a high-end workstation from Scan, the 3XS WA4000 VR.
Scan 3XS WA4000 VR review: Features
Scan has taken full advantage of the capabilities of the Ryzen 9 3900X with its 3XS WA4000 VR workstation. The CPU has a base frequency of 3.8GHz, increasing to 4.6GHz in turbo mode. But Scan has permanently set the clock to 4.3GHz across all cores. There’s multithreading, providing 24 threads, so there will be lots of grunt available for activities such as rendering.
Another benefit of the new Ryzen is that memory support has been improved to 3,200MHz DDR4, and Scan has included a pair of 16GB DIMMs for 32GB in total. But the Asus Prime X570-P Motherboard has four DIMM slots and supports up to 128GB, meaning there’s plenty of room for upgrades.
AMD may have a compelling story for workstation processors, but it hasn’t moved its 7nm technology to professional graphics yet. So Nvidia still rules the roost here, and Scan has unsurprisingly gone for a member of the recently launched Quadro RTX range, in this case the 5000. This is a phenomenal accelerator, with 3,072 CUDA cores running at up to 1,815MHz on boost, and 16GB of GDDR6 memory running at 1,750MHz. The latter sits on a 256-bit bus and provides a considerable 448GB/sec of bandwidth. This will provide a huge amount of modelling power.
Another feature of the new Ryzen worth mentioning is that it supports PCI Express Gen4 via the X570 chipset. This provides double the bandwidth of PCI Express Gen3, so around 2GB/sec. You don’t get any benefit from this with the Quadro RTX 5000 as it’s only PCI Express Gen3, but you will when future graphics cards arrive with Gen4.
However, there is an area that can take advantage of PCI Express Gen4 already: storage. The Asus motherboard sports two M.2 NVMe slots and both support Gen4. Scan has chosen to populate one slot with a 2TB Corsair MP600 NVMe M.2 drive that runs at Gen4 x4 speeds, giving a ceiling of 8GB/sec. Testing with CrystalDiskMark 6, I saw 4,990.5MB/sec sequential reading and 4,276MB/ sec writing.
To put this in perspective, the fastest Gen3 NVMe drives I’ve tested can only manage around 3,200MB/sec reading. You don’t get any further storage or a removable optical drive, but the Corsair Carbide 275Q chassis offers a pair of 3.5in and quartet of 2.5in bays for upgrades.
Scan 3XS WA4000 VR review: Performance
Our main interest with this system, however, is the CPU performance, and in this respect the WA4000 VR delivers – in spades. Its overall score in the PC Pro benchmarks of 507 is the third-fastest we’ve ever seen, with only 16 and 18-core Intel Core i9 processors being slightly faster. This is made up of a phenomenal 208 in image editing, 485 in video encoding and 622 in multitasking.
Putting this in more perspective is the Maxon Cinebench R15 rendering score of 3,375, which is faster than a 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. Just for future reference, the Cinebench R20 score of 7,699 is also phenomenal, although we don’t have any comparisons with this new benchmark yet.
It’s no slouch for modelling, either. Running SPECviewperf 13, highlights included 243 in 3dsmax-06, 351.8 in maya-05, and 182.6 in sw-04. That makes it a fantastic system for modelling as well as rendering.
Scan 3XS WA4000 VR review: Verdict
Even the price of £3,700 inc VAT isn’t that steep considering the performance available. This is a brilliant all-round workstation, offering phenomenal image editing and video encoding, rendering in the class of last year’s 16-core systems and 3D modelling with no compromises. The Scan 3XS WA4000 VR shows just how much the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has to offer – and there’s a 16-core version coming soon, too.