It's been a steady rise from AMD but after lots of pushing and proving, the newly-released Ryzen 3000 series processors provide some stiff competition to Intel. This crop of 7nm Zen 2 CPUs has got Intel sweating, and with good reason.
The top-end Ryzen 3rd generation processors have released. The dust has begun to settle and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of PC gamers are beginning to get these CPUs in their hands and into their rigs. The review samples sent out were largely restricted to the Ryzen 7 3700X and the Ryzen 9 3900X, so we'll be sticking to those two for now.
Both the 3700X and the 3900X are based on the Zen 2 architecture and will slot into the also-new X570 chipset motherboards (as well as the PCIe Gen 4 and AM4 platforms). Like all of the Ryzen AM4 platforms, they’re also backward compatible with older motherboards. However, they will miss out some of the juicy new features such as PCIe 4.0 support.
The Ryzen 7 3700X has 8 cores (16 logical cores) whereas the new Ryzen 9 3900X has a massive 12 cores (24 logical cores) and all 6 of the newly released Ryzen CPUs are built on the industry-leading 7nm process
Look I know you like CPU numbers, so let’s stick them all into a table format so we can make some sense of them and then talk about how well these new CPUs are going to help us play our AAA games and why we should upgrade or switch from Intel to AMD or not.
The New AMD Ryzen 7nm processors released are:
Model Price Cores/ Threads TDP L3 Cache Base Clock Turbo Clock Process PCIe DDR4 Ryzen 9 3950X (Sept 2019) $749 16/32 105W 64MB 3.5GHz 4.7GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200 Ryzen 9 3900X $499 12/24 105W 64MB 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200 Ryzen 7 3800X $399 8/16 105W 64MB 3.9GHz 4.5GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200 Ryzen 7 3700X $329 8/16 65W 32MB 3.6GHz 4.4GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200 Ryzen 5 3600X $249 6/12 95W 32MB 3.8GHz 4.4GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200 Ryzen 5 3600 $199 6/12 65W 32MB 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 7nm 24 Dual 3200
Ok, so that's the 6 new Ryzen processors stacked up together. The leader up there, the Ryzen 9 3950X is out in September of this year, whereas all the others released on 7th July. It sounds as if there’s high demand for these CPUs and supply may be limited, so which should you go for? We need to see how they look when put against the competition - Intel. In particular, it’s the mid to top-end Intel desktop CPUs, such as the Core i7-9700K, which AMD's latest processors compete with.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X & 3900X Gaming Performance
When it comes to gaming, clock speeds and IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) are king. You can have all the cores and threads in the world, but it’s going to mean nothing up against a CPU with six cores clocked monstrously high. While support for threaded applications in gaming is growing, the vast majority of games these days are geared around 4 to 8 core CPUs.
Having a 16-core CPU with a low clock speed isn’t going to help your gaming performance a great deal and, if you’re using your PC almost exclusively for gaming, would just be a waste of money.
To that end, there’s a balance to be struck between core counts and clock speeds that means the most expensive new CPUs aren’t necessarily the best for gaming. This rings true for Ryzen 3000, courtesy of the Ryzen 7 3700X landing its place as one of the fastest AMD gaming CPUs around, faster even than the top-tier Ryzen 9 3900X.
If you’re buying a CPU for the express purpose of gaming with it, all the synthetic benchmarks in the world are fairly redundant. All that matters, in the end, is how fast can this CPU run your games, and at what point will it become the bottleneck to your graphics card, if ever. On this front, AMD has provided a bunch of fantastic new processors with its Ryzen 3000 range.
Should you want the absolute best in terms of gaming performance, the Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K are still the champions. The $449 Core i9-9900K's 5 GHz Turbo frequency right out of the box is a force to be reckoned with. However, we’re dealing with a comparatively small difference in real gaming performance, something that’s only ever a factor when playing at lower resolutions. These CPUs are all super-fast, and there's no pressing gaming need to upgrade to anything near this level.
Still, the $329 AMD Ryzen 7 3700X appears to hit the sweet spot in terms of price to performance, offering up considerably improved performance when compared to the previous-gen Ryzen 7 2700X. However, it does come up short compared to even the i7-9700K, indicative of Intel’s still-dominant position in terms of real-world gaming performance.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X & 3900X Multithreaded Performance
Most people don’t use their CPUs solely for gaming though, and AMD’s high-core count across its Ryzen 3000 range make them great jack-of-all-trades processors that offer decent gaming performance and phenomenal threaded performance.
The Ryzen 9 3900X is an absolute beast when it comes to multithreaded performance. Its speed belies its $499 price tag. While this may seem steep, the Ryzen 9 3900X offers multi-threaded performance so far in excess of Intel’s at this price point that it's beginning to make Intel look foolish.
Delving into the realm of synthetic tests for a moment, which serves to give us a better understanding of multithreaded applications and more intense workloads, the 3900X scores just north of 32,000 in Passmark’s CPU test. This compares to just 20K for the Intel Core i7-9700K ($379) and ~19K for the i9-9900K ($449). The 3900X annihilates Intel’s performance in the same price bracket, going toe-to-toe with $1000+ processors.
If very heavy multitasking, encoding, and other workstation uses are important to you, then the Ryzen 9 3900X appears to be the ultimate CPU of choice for now, at least without totally breaking the bank.
But what does this mean for you, now, with your current CPUs? Well, if you're already rocking a Ryzen processor and you're almost exclusively interested in gaming, you're arguably not going to see a huge increase in terms of frame rates when you upgrade. The faster your graphics card, the faster your CPU will need to be in order to prevent bottlenecks, but these latest high-end CPUs are only truly a concern for those with high refresh rate monitors.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X & 3900X Value For Money
In terms of value for money, the now cut-price Ryzen 2000 series is the way to go. A new wave of price cuts for AMD's last-gen processors means this could be a fantastic time to pick up a bargain.
Taking the average frame rate benchmarks from above, and combined with the current retail value on Amazon, the Ryzen 5 2600X is the best bang for your buck among this bunch of processors, with the 2700X following narrowly behind. The Ryzen 9 3900X ends up being the worst value in terms of gaming performance, yet of course, this fails to take into account its excellence at multitasking and multithreaded tasks.
Should a gamer buy a new AMD Ryzen 3000 and which one should you get?
All in all, it's a strong showing from AMD. The Zen 2 architecture should provide an ample springboard from which AMD can go on to achieve even greater things. The 7nm FinFET process has opened the door to low power, high-performance CPU designs which can stand tall alongside Intel. This is just the beginning, and we expect AMD to finetune this process and bump up those clock speeds as the 7nm node matures.
When it comes to price to performance for gaming, both the bottom and the middle of AMD's pack of Ryzen 3000 CPUs look strong. You really can't argue with a hexa-core Ryzen 5 3600 for less than $200, all the way up to a fearsome Ryzen 7 3700X for $329. All of these make great gaming CPU purchases. Anything above this is arguable too excessive for PC gaming needs in 2019 though.
At the top end, the real benefits are for power users such as those doing extensive streaming, video editing, 3D rendering, multitasking and so forth. It's here where the 3800X and, in particular, the 3900X shine. These folks now find themselves with the option to pick up 8 or 12-Core CPUs for what are comparatively cheap prices. Intel has been dominating this area for years and AMD has come along and blown them out the water with the 3900X.