AMD Ryzen 7 3700X & Ryzen 9 3900X review

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Final Words 

The one company that keeps amazing me over the past two years has been AMD, they've gone so deep, and slowly but at a very steady pace have been crawling back to the top. Ryzen series 1000 was innovative, Ryzen series 2000 has been good and Ryzen series 3000 will bring AMD to where they deserve to be, and that's very close to the desktop performance level of team blue. Of course, there will be wins and losses on both sides, but overall AMD has got the better platform infrastructure to offer, the more secure processor and now performance to go with it. It was merely the first quarter of 2017 when AMD Released Zen with the Ryzen 7 1800X. In just over two years they are now as competitive as Intel is, with a more advanced platform at PCIe Gen 4.0 as well. Ryzen evolved and matured, it all adds up from latency, better memory support, faster base clocks, higher Turbo bins, the accumulation of it all is what has become Ryzen 3000. If I take the Ryzen 7 3700X as an example, then we're talking eight cores and sixteen threads at very competitive performance levels for 329 USD. That proc is going to be very interesting as, currently for a gaming PC or high-end PC, we find 8-cores to be the absolute sweet spot. Game performance at a lower resolution, hey, Intel still wins here and there but the margin and gap have become so small that we doubt it'll be a defining factor in your purchase options, as really the money saved over the Intel 8-core part you should invest in a faster GPU. The asking price of 329 USD for this eight-core processor is spot on and screams value. 


Price and value

Yeah I know, I already spilled the beans here, but prices are 329 USD for the Ryzen 7 3700X and 499 USD for the Ryzen 9 3900X respectively. Prices in the EU should/could be fairly equal, however, with VAT differences throughout the region, prices will likely be higher with the USD/EUR conversion and VAT. But it is, give or take, 41 bucks per core. A Core i9 9900K sells at roughly 500 bucks these days and, remember, its MSRP is 599 USD even. That's 63 USD per core or 75 USD per core if you go with the MSRP. You can also say that the 3900X and 9900K are priced similarly, yet with AMD you get four extra processor cores for the same amount of money. There is another factor to weigh in though, X570 motherboards start in the 200 USD region. That is something that needs to change. If you do not plan to go for a PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD and are content with a few fewer features, an X470 motherboard is the better value path to follow. There will be no performance differences and, since the memory controllers reside on the CPU, the memory frequency and compatibility will be the same as well.  

Gaming performance

Previous Ryzen reviews have taught me that it is extremely hard to convince a big part of the guru3d community and reader base that Ryzen 1000/2000 was plenty fast for gaming, at least mainstream gaming. For the new Zen2 Matisse based processors that will be less difficult. Combined with the respective platform, ZEN2 offers far more oomph compared to the previous two generation Ryzen processors. There are mostly wins for Intel, there will be wins for AMD based on competing and price level matched processors. It's a much closer call to make, and that by itself is a win for AMD all thanks to the increased IPC and clock frequencies.

We do feel that the gaming performance charts were a bit out of perspective, so I created another 1920x1080 chart showing all games we tested against the Core i9 9900K. This is the reality with the fastest consumer GPU available on the planet:


So based on the fastest consumer card on the globe,  GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, we can calculate and average out roughly a 5% to 10% advantage for the 9900K compared to the 3900X and 3700X overall. With varying differences per game title, of course. Guys, this is how close things have gotten in the year 2019 with Ryzen 3000. And I did pick Intel's most expensive 8-core proc here and, again, who really owns an RTX 2080 Ti? All slower cards are more GPU limited and thus the performance differences are narrower.

DDR4 Memory

Memory compatibility should not and likely will not be an issue as long as you stick to recently released DIMMs. I'll keep repeating this, but there are some really good Ryzen optimized kits out there. With Ryzen Generation 3 you can go higher in DDR4 clock frequency if you want to. We advise that up-to 3600 MHz and CL16 is fine, after that frequency value a 2:1 divider kicks in, and that can have an effect on the Infinity Fabric bandwidth, inter-core CCX bandwidth. We see no reason for faster DDR4 memory anyways, it's expensive and does not bring in added perf, much like what you see on Intel platforms as well.

Energy efficiency

With these processors now fabbed at 7nm you may see some interesting energy efficiency, the 65 Watts for the 3700X is, of course, amazing all by itself. The 12 core 3900X, however, is listed at a TDP of 105 Watts. Mind you these are numbers at nominal load. Not your continuous power draw. Overall the 3700X was idling a bit higher than expected, but that is likely due to the massively outfitted motherboard (extra ICs do use extra power). The load values are excellent. The 3900X did show roughly the same idle load, ergo read my previous statement on the motherboard. The load values with 12 cores stressed topped 227 Watts (entire PC), which was just 20 Watts more than a stressed 9900K. So yeah, it's all good there. 

The Tweak

The original Ryzen series from 2017 revealed clocks in the 3900~4000 MHz range on all cores. For Ryzen 2000 / Zen+ that was a notch higher. Ryzen 3000 seems to take an all-core clock of 4300~4400 MHz at best. Our Ryzen 7 3700X was able to reach a stable 4400 MHz, but that was on proper liquid cooling and really absolutely the maximum. If you tweak to the maximum, likely 1.425v~1.450v is needed for a stable 4.3 GHz on all cores. The thing is, and I have been thinking about this for a long time, I would not recommend overclocking and tweaking. These processors by themselves can boost 1 or 2 cores to 4500, 4600 and, on the upcoming 16-core part, even 4.7 GHz. So while the rest of the cores will be binned slower, that's where you get your extra game performance. The positives of an all-core 4400 Mhz would not outweigh the positives of the default high Turbo clocks. It is something to think about for sure. At least you can try and see what works best for you. But the binned clock recipe that AMD has applied to the processors at default likely will work out the best in most scenarios, including power consumption. Also, the automated overclocks and PBO functions really didn't yield a lot more performance. 

This is going to be a generic and general consensus for all many-core processors really. We've been seeing weird doody with 8+ core Intel processors as well. I mean you can go 5 GHz on the 9900K, make no mistake. But the energy consumption and heat levels spiral out of control big time there as well. On Ryzen 3000 however, you will not be able to reach that 5 GHz, whereas with Intel you can. Hey, fair is fair.



The conclusion

The sun is shining bright on AMD for the Ryzen 3000 series. Both the 3700X and 3900X have managed to impress me. In the more serious workloads, these things rip a hole through the clouds in the sky. The overall performance is there, single-threaded performance is really good. Gaming wise, AMD made a massive step forward as well but is not slapping around that 9700K and 9900k. The reality, however, is that AMD is close to Intel on the gaming front, just not quite everywhere. I would have liked them to fight with the 9900K just for the fun of it, that is not happening in the gaming segment with the most expensive enthusiast-class graphics card. But, the fact that I am comparing a 329 USD (MSRP) 8-core 3700X processor with a 599 USD (MSRP) Core i9 9900K feels weird, even while typing this conclusion - yeah think about that fact for a second. So how important you deem a few % difference in the lowest resolutions, is only for you to judge. With a card like the Radeon 5700 (XT) or RTX 2070/2080, you'll be hard-pressed to even notice a difference. 

If we look at desktop workloads with compression software, content creation(s), transcoding and whatever, AMD pretty much is bitch-slapping Intel. There is no other logical conclusion we can draw here. I mean heck, the 12-core 499 USD 3900X is beating 16-core 2000 USD costing products and platforms like a little b....  well you know the word. Oh hey, speaking of platforms, X570 is great, really. You do need to weigh up for yourself if PCIe Gen4 is the game-changer for you. If you're an enthusiast with that yearn for HEDT, then the answer is probably yes after you've seen our Corsair MP600 results, also as you'll be more future proof of course. However, if you want maximum bang for the buck on your gaming rig, PCIe gen 4.0 isn't going to do much for you in this day and era for your graphics card. So an X470 motherboard would probably be your choice of weapon. I have to say it though, the new X570 motherboards are loaded though, multi-GigE Ethernet, some even offer AX WIFI6 still to be found on any Intel platform, and basically a whole lot of other features.

It's time to end this Sunday the 7th article though, as yes, you still need to read a NAVI review as well ;) The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X are not a slam dunk in terms of squeezing out every last frame of game performance, but it's pretty darn close folks, especially given the test conditions we apply (in specific an RTX 2080 Ti). I'm still rating game perf as really good - just not super excellent - but that also has a lot to do with the fact that some games sometimes are better suited and developed on and for Intel platforms. For everything and anything else, AMD is sweeping the floor with Intel, offering safer and less vulnerable processors as well. That last remark on vulnerabilities is a very valid one and I am serious about this, I plan to upgrade all work systems to Ryzen 3000 as it is the safer processor series and platform to use. Desktop performance for both processors is just dazzlingly fast. I hate the fact that more-core procs get harder and more difficult to tweak. The default Turbo bins are faster than the all-core tweak, especially in games. Combined with energy consumption and heat to deal with I'd say leave things as they are. And really, the same goes for 8-core Intel processors just as well. But if you want to, both procs reached all-core tweaks in the 4.3~4.4 GHz range. Give it a go, and see if you like it. In closing, kudos to AMD for making such a strong comeback. AMD has been dictating, and Intel has been following ever since two years. And I do say that with great respect for both companies, but if it where up-to Intel, you all still would be using quad-core processors, cheap to fab and very profitable saving on that transistor budget. While sending the enthusiast crowd towards HEDT platforms with 1500 USD+ processors. Yes, how that dynamic has changed.

At 329 USD for the Ryzen 7 3700X 8c/16t and 499 USD for the 12c/24t Ryzen 9 3900X, they not only deliver proper performance and feature leading and loaded X570 infrastructure, but these procs also offer properly good value for the money you need to put down.

Drops the MIC, boom +++

- Hilbert out

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