Ryzen 3900X

AMD beats Intel for the first time in bringing the strongest processor ever – Ryzen 3900X

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Just over a couple of years ago, AMD came out with its first generation Ryzen processor line-up. This was the first time in almost over a decade that it looked like we had another genuine challenger to Intel. Before Ryzen, the market was completely dominated by Intel with only a few enthusiasts opting to buy clearly inferior AMD processors. Most people touted Ryzen as the start of a new era for AMD. The processors were cheaper than Intel’s offerings and offered some good value in terms of performance as well, especially for productivity-focused tasks. However, Intel was still the king in outright raw performance with its superior per-clock performance. Yes, people were switching to AMD but Intel was still the place to be if you wanted pure gaming performance.

Fast forward to last year, AMD released a refresh to the original Ryzen series, the Ryzen 2000. However, it was just a minor upgrade and didn’t really shake the whole industry. Talking of shaking the industry, here we are, in 2019 with possibly the biggest industry-shaking product we’ve seen for a very long time. We’ve been hearing about the newer 7nm Ryzen 3000 series for quite some time. The hype around it is massive and there is a reason for it. The Ryzen 3000 is the first time in over a decade when AMD has an actual chance of beating Intel. Yes, you heard that right – not just competing, actually beating. The last time AMD had a lead over Intel, we did not even have YouTube or smartphones and single-core processors were the norm.

AMD Ryzen 3000: The beginning of a new era

AMD Ryzen 3000 has brought some significant changes to the board. The biggest one is probably the move from Global Foundries’ 12nm process to TSMC’s 7nm. AMD now has the claim to be the first company to manufacture consumer CPUs using a 7nm process. However, that change alone is not the only reason for why the Ryzen 3000 series is so special. The magic comes in when you look at AMD’s design. The Ryzen 3000, instead of being a single chip, uses a modular design in the form of chiplets. This allows AMD to fit more cores into its processors. While there are 6 CPUs announced for the Ryzen 3000 series, the top-of-the line Ryzen 9 3950X has been reserved for a later release.

Ryzen 3900X
Image: PCWorld

The flagship processor of the two being sampled for today’s launch is the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X. Having 12 cores and 24 threads, which is also a first for a consumer CPU, the 3900X comes in at a very competitive price of $499. Meanwhile, the lesser variant called the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X comes with an impressive total of 8 cores and 16 threads with a surprisingly low price of $329 and a rather low TDP of 65W only. Let’s take a look at what makes these two so special.

Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is the flagship processor with a 12-core design introduced for the first time for a consumer desktop socket. What sets it apart from the rest of the Ryzen 3000 line-up is the fact that it has two CPU chiplets instead of one along with the standard base I/O die. This grants the Ryzen 3900X the ability to pack those extra cores inside it. Being so powerful, you’d expect the TDP to be up in the sky as well. Interestingly, this is not the case here as the Ryzen 3900X manages to keep its TDP surprisingly low at 105W.

In comparison, Intel Core i9-9900K has a TDP of 95W with its 8 cores. However, Intel measures its TDP at base clock while AMD does so on boost clocks so the difference is pretty much non-existent between the two. The fact that AMD has managed to increase the core count by 50% while keeping the TDP the same as the last gen Ryzen 2700X is pretty impressive. Furthermore, the 3900X manages to maintain higher boost clocks at around 4.6 GHz with the base clocks also getting a slight bump to 3.8 GHz.

On the other side, the Ryzen 3700X is more of the same story but with efficiency in mind. It manages to maintain higher boost clocks at 4.4 GHz with 8 cores and 16 threads while keeping the TDP surprisingly low at only 65W.

Faster Memory and PCIe 4.0

One thing that AMD has promised for this generation is the extended support for faster DDR 4 memory. The newer controllers are able to support overclocked memory with ease up to an impressive DDR4-4200. However, anything higher than DDR4 3600 will change the memory controller to infinity fabric clock ratio from 1:1 to 2:1.

Ryzen 3000
Image: AMD

In addition to that, we also have full support for PCIe 4.0 here which helps AMD achieve just that edge and future proofing over the competition. PCIe 4.0 manages to provide double the clockspeeds and throughput as compared to PCIe 3.0. We don’t even have PCIe 4.0 graphics cards yet and the only way to take advantage of PCIe 4.0 SSDs is using AMD’s X570 motherboard and Ryzen 3000 processors. Yes, that’s how far ahead AMD is thinking. The inclusion of PCIe 4.0 is going to be crucial for AMD in the long run. There is a slight disadvantage though as having PCIe 4.0 support on X570 means that the chipset will also pull a considerably higher 11W of TDP and will also require some cooling of its own. This can potentially lead to some reliability issues later down the road.

AMD has also effectively doubled its L3 cache to 16 MB in order to get a significant edge over the competition, especially for gaming.

Performance

Now, this is going to be the make or break moment for AMD. After everything, performance is what matters at the end of the day. However, things look good here as on paper, the Ryzen 3000 should simply demolish the competition. And, unsurprisingly, it shows in our real life tests as well. In gaming, the Ryzen 3000 manages to stay neck-and-neck with equivalent offerings from Intel. The total improvement over the last gen Ryzen 2700X is a whopping 30 percent thanks to the doubled L3 cache and IPC improvements.

Ryzen Gaming Benchmark

On the productivity side, there is no competition. AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors just simply demolish any Intel counterparts, especially in multi-threaded performance thanks to higher core count across the board. Things are a lot closer in single-threaded tests though as Intel’s processors are still able to retain higher peak frequencies of up to 5 GHz. However, in some tests like Cinebench R15, the Ryzen 9 3900X manages to destroy Intel’s Core i9 9900K by a massive margin of over 40%. This carries forward to most other tests.

Ryzen 3000

The fact that AMD Zen 2 based processors are also being used in next generation consoles from both Sony and Microsoft is also promising as we would finally get some gaming consoles which are somewhat powerful enough as compared to modern gaming PCs. This will eventually push game developers into making better quality games as consoles are always the benchmark for game developers.

Pricing

This is probably the most impressive aspect of AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 line-up. The top-of-the line Ryzen 3900 X with its 12 cores retails at $499. In comparison, Intel’s flagship Core i9-9900K with its lesser 8 cores costs around $488. However, with AMD, you get an RGB cooler included in the $499 which is not the case with Intel. And, in terms of performance, AMD’s offering is on par, if not better, than Intel. Even the $329 Ryzen 7 3700X is a much better option against the Intel Core i7-9700K. There just isn’t any competition here. AMD has just managed to squeeze so much into such a modestly priced package. Frankly, I do not see Intel managing to compete here unless it slashes the prices on its processors. AMD has just won the value game here, hands down.

Ryzen 3000 Price

Conclusion

These are genuinely exciting times. This is the first time we’ve had a legitimately game-changing competitor to Intel’s dominance since the old AMD Athlon 64 CPU. The launch of Ryzen 3000 series will definitely sway consumer interests thanks to its unbeatable performance and value. Ryzen 3000 has also put Intel in a tough spot, with the company not really having an answer in sight. Meanwhile, AMD is already working on its Zen 3 architecture and is on course for its release in a couple of years.

If you only game on your PC, you could look at Intel as well but if you literally do anything else on your PC, choosing anything other than AMD right now would be outright stupid. This is a no brainer. No matter which side you’re on, you have to admit that what AMD has managed to achieve here is extremely impressive. Intel has to cut its prices to compete, there is no other way. If it doesn’t, the sales would suffer. Ryzen 3000 is finally the competition that Intel needed to finally get a wake-up call and hopefully, it responds because at the end of the day, competition is always good for the consumer.

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