The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme is the latest system from Gateshead’s best PC builders, and it’s one of the most exciting rigs to arrive on our test-bench in some time.
That’s because it uses Threadripper – the latest iteration of AMD’s Zen architecture. These chips pack up to sixteen cores and promise to deliver unprecedented multi-threaded pace for high-end work applications and productivity tools.
Threadripper isn’t cheap, though, with CyberPower’s system arriving at £3,469 – and it faces stiff competition from Intel Skylake-X.
CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme – Components
CyberPower has set a blistering pace by using the 1950X – the beefiest and most expensive Threadripper chip – in this system.
It costs a shade under £1,000 on its own, and it’s easy to see why: it’s got sixteen cores that support thirty-two threads, and each core has 2MB of L3 cache. It’s running at its stock speed of 3.4GHz, and it can use AMD Precision Boost to reach a peak speed of 4GHz, with a further 200MHz available using XFR.
Underneath all of that is the familiar and impressive Zen architecture. It’s AMD’s most power-efficient processing architecture in years thanks to its 14nm manufacturing process.
It’s a formidable bit of silicon, and it squares up to Intel’s latest Skylake-X chips. In particular, CyberPower’s machine tackles the Chillblast Fusion Halcyon, which used a Core i9-7900X processor.
The Core i9 used by Chillblast has ten cores rather than sixteen, which means it can address twenty concurrent threads, not thirty-two. It’s only got 13.75MB of L3 cache, and it runs at 3.3GHz with a Turbo speed of 4.5GHz across two cores. On paper, at least, that doesn’t compare too favourably to Threadripper – only Intel’s superior architecture could help Skylake-X deliver an advantage.
The Threadripper 1950X is formidable, but it’s not going to prove useful for every user. AMD’s latest chips and their multitude of cores are ideal for power users and creatives, because it’s only those kinds of applications that will actually make use of all the cores. Gamers just don’t need sixteen cores – and neither do those who are running normal office and home applications.
Threadripper’s high-end specification is paired with a new chipset. It’s called X399, and its headline feature is a big boost to its allocation of PCI-E lanes – so that gives any Threadripper 64 lanes when combined with the processor. That means more bandwidth for M.2 SSDs, PCI-based storage and graphics cards.
Elsewhere, X399 supports AMD CrossFire and Nvidia SLI, more than twenty USB ports across the various standards, the key RAID levels and full CPU overclocking.
Threadripper and its new chipset also bring a new features to the table. Gaming Mode switches the memory to a low-latency mode for better single-threaded performance, and Creator Mode uses wider distributed access to improve multi-threaded processing. These options are accessed in AMD’s Ryzen Master software, and it’s simple to use.
The X399 chipset has a new socket, called TR4, and it’s huge – about twice as big as a normal Ryzen processor. That’s because Threadripper’s multitude of cores need a physically larger chip to contain their multi-threaded power.
CyberPower has paired the new chip with an MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard. It looks the part: its black PCI and gunmetal heatsinks are illuminated by RGB LEDs, there’s lighting behind the board, and a shroud covers the I/O. It’s dominated by the TR4 socket and eight memory slots.
It’s packed with features, too. It uses Threadripper’s extra PCI lanes to facilitate quad-GPU support, two empty M.2 ports and a monster ten USB 3.1 ports, and it’s got beefed-up audio and internet circuits, steel-surrounded PCI slots and buttons to update the BIOS.
Despite the different processors, the CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme’s board is similar to the Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming used in the Chillblast. That board also has power and reset buttons and an on-board display, and it has 802.11ac wireless – something the CyberPower doesn’t have. It doesn’t have quite as many PCI-E lanes as the Threadripper package, which means fewer M.2 connectors.
The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme has 32GB of DDR4 memory. That’s another allocation designed for productivity tools – gaming and general PC applications just don’t need that much memory. The huge amount of memory is paired with a 500GB Samsung 960 EVO SSD and a 2TB hard disk.
Chillblast’s machine also had 32GB of memory and a 500GB SSD, although it did offer a 3TB hard disk.
The MSI-made GTX 1080 Ti has its own 120mm water-cooling unit, and the card uses its gaming mode – so the 1,480MHz core runs at 1,544MHz. There’s an OC mode that further boosts that clock speed to 1,569MHz. It’s a boon when compared to the Chillblast, which ran the GTX 1080 Ti at its stock speeds.
The final component, predictably, is a beast. The Corsair RM1000x PSU offers a whopping 1,000W of power, and it has 80Plus Gold certification.
There’s a lot to like about CyberPower’s PC, and on paper it looks like it’ll be able to outpace the Chillblast: the Threadripper CPU has more cores, the graphics card is overclocked, and its motherboard has more features.
There’s one area where the CyberPower falls behind, and that’s the warranty. Its three-year labour deal is fine, and we like the two years of parts coverage, but we wish the collect-and-return period was longer than a month. Chillblast also offers a five-year warranty as standard.
CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme – Full Specification
CPU: 3.4GHz AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
Memory: 32GB 3,000MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Motherboard: MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
Hard disk: 500GB Samsung 960 Evo PCI-E NVMe SSD; 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD
Ports: Front: 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, 2 x audio; rear: 10 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audio
Case: Corsair Carbide 600C Black
Dimensions: (W x D x H): 260 x 454 x 535mm
Extras: Corsair RM1000x 1000W PSU
Warranty: 3yr Labour w/ 2yr parts and 1mth C&R
CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme – Design
The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme is all about the components, so little budget or time has been wasted on spurious aesthetic excesses.
Instead, CyberPower has chosen a Corsair Carbide 600C for this build. It’s a large and brooding black chassis with with a plain façade, a large side window with a handle and four USB ports alongside a fan controller on the roof.
Its size puts it right at the top end of the ATX tower market – and in the same sort of territory as the Chillblast Fusion Halcyon. That system arrived in the Corsair Crystal 580X, which is just as large as the Carbide. It was more gregarious, with loads of tempered glass and RGB LEDs fitted to its case fans.
The Corsair looks subtle on the outside, and it’s unusual on the inside. The motherboard is at the bottom, rather than the top, and it’s installed upside-down – so the graphics card is in the middle of the machine, and processor is at the base, and the PSU and storage is all installed above.
Corsair says the inverse layout helps cooling, although there’s limited scope for that here because there aren’t any extra case fans – instead, the front is filled by the CPU’s Corsair Hydro H100i V2 cooler and its two fans, and the MSI’s smaller water-cooling unit occupies the exhaust mount.
The odd motherboard orientation isn’t just designed for cooling – it makes upgrading pretty easy. The free PCI slots and M.2 connectors are simpler to reach because they’re not beneath the graphics card, and the water-cooling hardware doesn’t impede the four vacant memory slots.
There are also two 5.25in bays, three 2.5in slots and a single 3.5in bay towards the top of the case, which means this larger tower offers more storage expansion than most other ATX builds – including the Chillblast.
This large, discreet build has solid cabling at the front, but it’s more of a mess behind the motherboard tray. That’s our only issue, though, and it’s a minor complaint.
CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme – Performance
AMD’s latest processor is designed for tough, multi-threaded applications, and it showed a hint of its prowess in our first test. The CyberPower machine scored a whopping 2,911cb in the Cinebench CPU benchmark, while the Chillblast machine could only manage a result of 2,188cb.
The CyberPower machine performed well in other benchmarks, although it couldn’t quite extend its lead over the Chillblast machine. It was a tad slower in both Geekbench tests, and a little behind in PC Mark 8.
That said, its Geekbench multi-core result of 27,799 remains one of the best we’ve ever seen, and a clear demonstration of Threadripper’s abilities.
The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme’s processor is paired with excellent storage and memory. The Samsung SSD’s read and write speeds of 3,320MB/s and 1,730MB/s are among the best on the market, and both outpace the Chillblast’s drive. The 32GB of DDR4 returned similar multi-threaded bandwidth to the Chillblast and better single-threaded pace.
Not all of our benchmarks see Threadripper and its sixteen cores outpacing the ten-core Intel chip in the Chillblast, but there’s still a lot to like about AMD’s latest processor. That Cinebench result is miles ahead of the Intel chip, and it’s a great hint about Threadripper’s pace – and its other results remain superb, even if they’re not record-breaking.
That’s good, but AMD’s Creator mode isn’t much cop. It only added 30cb to the already-excellent Cinebench result, and delivered similarly tiny gains in other benchmarks. It’s a free bit of extra pace, so it’s worth using, but don’t expect miracles.
The overclocked GTX 1080 Ti is no slouch. At its default settings the MSI-made card can handle any gaming scenario, including single-panel setups and VR headsets. It averaged 113fps or better in every 1080p gaming test, and its weakest result at 2,560 x 1,440 was a superb 92fps.
It impressed at 4K, too. Its weakest minimum at 3,840 x 2,160 was a 31fps result in Witcher 3, and its averages hit 47fps or better across our five test games. The CyberPower was consistently a handful of frames faster than the Chillblast machine, too – no surprise, considering its 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme score of 13,159 was more than 400 points beyond the Chillblast.
That’s a great result, although Threadripper’s Gaming mode proved a little disappointing. It actually made framerates slip in Battlefield 1, and in other titles it barely made any impact.
CyberPower’s machine delivered exceptional performance without thermal issues. The CPU and GPU peaked at fine temperatures of 73°C and 81°C, and even at its noisiest levels it was quieter than most other systems – just like the Chillblast.
The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Xtreme is a monster PC that pairs subtle design with vast power.
The new AMD Threadripper processor is a beast that can match anything that Intel can offer at the same price, although its sixteen cores are only really worthwhile for those who run high-end productivity tools – if you’re a gamer or a home user then your money is better spent elsewhere.
The CyberPower trades blows with the Chillblast in benchmarks, but we prefer the Threadripper machine – it’s got more cores, and they’ll only become more useful as time goes on. The CyberPower PC also has a better graphics card, faster memory and a motherboard with more features.
This expensive rig certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you need a powerful machine for multi-threaded tasks then this is what we’d recommend. Intel may have got there first with Skylake-X, but AMD’s extra cores and CyberPower’s better build does it better.