AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Vs Intel Core i9-9900K IPC Shootout: Did AMD Close The Gap?

Cinebench, POV-Ray, LAME MT, and Y-Cruncher

Cinebench R20 is the latest and greatest OpenGL-based rendering test from Maxon. It uses Cinema 4D's engine to draw a scene and measure how quickly a given CPU can complete the task, then converts that time to a score.
Cinebench R20
3D Rendering Benchmark
This version removes the animation test from its predecessor, R15, and the scene it renders is much more complex than before.

graph cinebench r20

AMD's latest CPU ever so slightly edged-out Intel's latest and greatest in the single-threaded Cinebench R20 benchmark in our full review, even though at stock speeds it's at a major clock speed deficit. However, when the playing field is leveled at 4GHz and in this new version of the test, the Ryzen 9 3900X takes a sizable 8% lead over the Core i9-9900K. Maybe these results explain why AMD touts Cinebench in all of its performance presentations. 

Ray Tracing Benchmark
POV-Ray, or the Persistence of Vision Raytracer, is a free, open-source tool for rendering high-quality, 3D graphics. It demonstrates software-based ray tracing throughput on the CPU. We tested with POV-Ray's standard "one-CPU" test on both of our test machines, and recorded the scores reported for each. Results are measured in pixels per second throughput. Higher scores equate to better performance.

graph pov ray test
Single-Threaded Performance

The Intel Core i9-9900K turns the tables this time in POV-Ray and wins by around 7.5% over the Ryzen 9 3900X. That probably shouldn't come as a surprise, since in our full Ryzen review, Intel's processor bested AMD's by around 17%, which is far more than the clock speed advantage that the 9900K enjoys at stock. 

Single-Threaded Audio Encoding
In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular, day-to-day use case for many end users, to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. LAME is an open-source audio encoder that can produce high-bitrate or variable bitrate MP3 audio files.

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single-threaded mode. Processing times are listed below in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

graph lame mt single test
Single-Thread Performance

In our original tests, the Ryzen 9 3900X lost soundly (no pun intended) to the Core i9-9900K, even in multi-threaded mode. The speedy single-threaded performance of Intel's CPU was more than the multi-threading scaling advantage on AMD's latest CPUs could overcome. The gap in single-threaded performance was around 30% there. When the CPUs are running at the same frequency in this test above, however, AMD cuts the deficit by a little less than half, though there's still a noticeable 17% difference between the two. Score this one for Intel.

Pi Calculation Test
Y-Cruncher is a multi-core-capable tool that calculates the value of pi to a specified number of digits. In this case, we ran the tool on a single thread and had the application calculate the value of pi to 500 million digits. The values below are the time required to perform the calculation expressed in seconds. As a result, lower values indicate better performance.
graph y cruncher
Single-Thread Performance

In our full review, we calculated pi to a billion digits using all the hardware threads each CPU had. In that test, even the Ryzen 7 3700X bested Intel's Core i9-9900K, indicating that AMD should do well in our single-threaded tests. That indeed seems to be the case; when both CPUs were locked at 4 GHz, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X beat the Intel Core i9-9900K by nine seconds, good for a 5% lead. 

Next, we'll take a look at some CPU-bound gaming tests then make some sense of all the numbers we've pored through in this review...

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