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Is it worth it to go for 3970X if I only need threadripper for the PCIE lanes?

Or should I go for the 3960X and save the difference in cost?

Depending on your use case, you might be interested in the AMD EPYC 3000 series SoC boards. SuperMicro has some available on Amazon starting at 600 bucks (US, incl shipping) and Gigabyte has announced a similar product back in November last year, but that one hasn’t been spotted in the wild yet.

If you take that route, go for the 3151 or up. (the SuperMicro 3151 borad goes for approx 800 USD, incl shipping)

Note, these boards come with SoC already installed, just need RAM and PSU to post.

Hey, please correct me if I’m wrong, but at a quick glance it appears that the embedded SuperMicro boards just have one x16 pcie slot. If @unregistered just needs more pcie lanes, does this help?

Depends on the margin you will find it - MSRP is not a huge difference as far as I recall. 3960X has higher base clocks so might worth taking that into account.

The 3000 series EPYC embedded are Zen 1 or Zen 1+ but if you just needs PCIE lanes and not CPU then they aren’t a bad option. Asrock is coming out with a microATX one that has more PCIE slots and most of the embedded boards have several other connectors for their additional lanes (like OCuLink) that you can use for things like M.2 or U.2. Getting them to work with a standard PCIE card might be possible but I’ve never seen that kind of adapter before.

Once you get to the high end EPYC embedded boards with better CPUs it looks more enticing to go full EPYC. You can get the better performance per clock of EPYC Rome (Zen 2), get 128 PCIE lanes, and several CPUs to choose from (8 core to 64 core). They won’t have the single threaded performance of a Threadripper, but can cost less.

It comes down to what you need.
Need CPU performance & PCIE Lanes? Threadripper
Need PCIE Lanes and CPU performance not as much? EPYC
Need PCIE Lanes but not CPU? EPYC Embedded

On 3960X vs 3970X it is going to be workload dependent. Both have very close to the same single threaded performance. Mildly threaded will be pretty close to the same (i.e. not hitting 3960X core limit), but heavily threaded the 3970X will top the 3960X.
There might be some other instances where they trade blows as well.

If it is only for the pci-e lanes?
then i´m assuming you don´t do workloads that requiere allot of cores.
Otherwise you wouldn´t ask this question.
So in that regards i would say no.

Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer, I do need the core performance but not that many. I’m a developer and have to deal with virtualization and stuff so yes core performance is important but I just don’t see myself using 36 cores.

I checked pricing and it looks like the 3960x is going for around 1600-1700 (2-300 above msrp) now in most etailers that have it in stock, while the 3970x is still hovering around 2000 which was its msrp. At this price range, I’d personally pay the extra for the 3970x since the 3960x is already marked up.

Yeah, it’s hard to recommend without knowing what exactly you’re trying to do, how many PCIE lanes is “enough”, and exactly how may cores yo want. Also are you worried at all about thermals and/or energy costs, and are you looking to build a new system, or do you have the motherboard and/or all the other components lying around ready?
What about 10 Gbe networking? How much memory? Is ECC important to you? How much is the extra $500 between the 3960x and 3970x a problem? [You can currently get 3960x for $1399 @ MicroCenter, with additional $100 off a motherboard if you purchase at same time…]

Since single thread performance [or maybe 8, or even up to 16 threads?] seems to be important to you, you likely want Theadripper rather than Epyc, but more than 8, 12 [or 16] cores seems unnecessary [so 24 or 32 are both overkill…].
My off-the-wall proposals would be:

All new system:
Lenovo Thinkstation P620 with the Threadripper Pro 3945WX [12 core]…
Includes ECC RAM, 10 Gbe and a 1000 W Platinum supply, and Quadro P620.
Just over $2k USD with 16 GB ECC RAM and 256 SSD… or a few hundred more for 32 GB and 512 SSD…
[Issues are the proprietary motherboard and PSU]

or
New CPU and motherboard:
New Threadripper 2950x [16 cores, $650 USD @ BH Photo] and a
consumer grade X399 motherboard [$250 USD], or a workstation X399 board [ASRock Rack for ~$450] if you want IPMI/built in graphics and/or 10 GbE built in…