Now, we know what you’re thinking, and yes, AMD‘s Threadripper CPUs aren’t really intended for gaming. AMD designed these multi-core behemoths for heavily-threaded applications. Stuff like video encoding, 3D rendering, and running virtual machines come to mind.
But for gaming, it’s fair to expect that they won’t offer a much better experience than their quad-core, hexa-core, or octa-core bretheren. In the case of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, however, things were a bit different.
Initial testing with a GTX 1080 Ti and the 398.26 GeForce drivers by PCPer has shown that in 32-core, 364-thread mode, the 2990WX would constantly under-perform in games, achieving only around half the performance of the 16-core, 32-thread Threadripper 2950X. Going into Legacy mode, which disables half of the cores, fixes the problem and the 2990WX performs similarly to the 2950X.
Updating to Nvidia’s new 399.24 GeForce drivers apparently fixes (most of) the problems. With the new drivers and in full 32-core, 64-thread mode, the 2990WX performs nearly as well as it does in legacy mode, with F1 2017 seeing a performance increase by as much as 78%.
As PCPer notes, not even AMD called them out to second-guess the initial results of their testing when their review came out. And while Nvidia could have known about the bug in their drivers, they might have decided not to inform the community.
Going forward, this might put into question all reviews on the Threadripper 2990X if graphics card drivers can affect CPU performance. Or for that matter, all reviewers might need to test CPUs with more than just one graphics card from one brand to see if drivers have an impact on multi-core performance.
All reviewer woes aside, this is good news for the pro-sumers and professionals who have sunk a lot of money into AMD’s X399 platform and a Threadripper 2990WX because they can now at least run games reasonably well when they’re not crunching numbers or editing 4K videos.