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AMD Ryzen 3000: The Complete Guide

AMD Ryzen 3000: The Complete Guide

The AMD Ryzen 3000 series of CPUs are here, and it’s an exciting time for anyone with an interest in PCs, processors, gaming or productivity – or just technology in general, really.

It’s an exciting time for AMD, too. The red team has been on a roll with its CPUs since the first generation of Ryzen arrived back in 2017. Now we’re two ranges down, and the firm is promising big changes – and big competition for market leader Intel.

So, what’s new in the AMD Ryzen 3000 series and its Zen 2 architecture, what performance should you expect, and which chips will be the best ones to buy? Find out right now in our AMD Ryzen 3000 complete guide.

Head Here for our full guide to AMD Ryzen 3000 and AMD X570 motherboards

AMD Ryzen 3000 – What’s New?

AMD has made several big changes for the Ryzen 3000 series and the Zen 2 architecture. Much of the underlying, base-level CPU architecture in these new chips remains the same as older parts, but AMD has made fundamental differences to the organisation, manufacturing processes and software.

The first big change is a manufacturing move. The last generation of Ryzen chips was built using a 14nm process – but Ryzen 3000 chips use 7nm.

The move to 7nm has immediate impact. The move means that AMD can fit more transistors into its chips – so performance will jump straight away. The transistors also use less electricity, because they’re all smaller.

That means the new chips can be made to deliver solid performance while consuming less power – or that AMD can use this headroom to ramp up speeds while keeping power consumption sensible.

The processing cores in Ryzen 3000 chips have moved from 14nm to 7nm, but that’s not the only big change.

In these new chips, the cores are arranged in something AMD calls ‘chiplets’. These smaller modules each have six or eight processing cores, which are built from two three- or four-core complexes. They all have multi-threading, so an eight-core chiplet can address sixteen concurrent threads.

Using this ‘chiplet’ design means that AMD can almost build its CPUs with modularity in mind. Six-core or eight-core chips only need one chiplet, for instance. But if AMD wants to build a twelve- or sixteen-core chip then the firm just has to add another chiplet to the design.

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IO Changes

In a break from older chips, AMD has moved all of the chip’s IO functions to its own, separate die.

This move is a big change for AMD, but this multi-die design makes a lot of sense. The IO chip uses a 12nm process. That’s absolutely fine for this part of the processor. It means that AMD can used a larger, more mature process here – which means better yields and lower costs.

And, because the IO functionality is separate, it means that the CPU chiplets and dies are smaller. That introduces more benefits to scalability, manufacturing and cost-saving.

The IO dies can also address multiple CPU chiplets, which makes it easier for AMD to build processors with more CPU cores.

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Other Improvements

Those are the big changes, but they’re not the only improvements for Ryzen 3000. AMD delivers a big boost to its instructions per clock on this chip, which means more work will get done. And there’s more cache, too – the L3 cache available per core has doubled, from 2MB per core to 4MB per core. Those cache improvements mean better memory latency – and so, again, better speeds.

The new chips support PCI-Express 4.0, with AMD the only hardware manufacturer that has committed to using the new standard.

It’s not really needed right now, because today’s graphics cards and PCI-based SSDs are easily sated by the bandwidth offered by PCI-Express 3.0 slots. However, PCI-Express 4.0 will offer loads more bandwidth, with 42% faster SSD performance and 69% more GPU performance claimed. Ryzen 3000 chips serve up 24 lanes for GPUs, storage and the chipset.

It may not be necessary now, but we’re pleased AMD is already supporting PCI-Express 4.0. That’s because AMD’s new chips use the existing AM4 socket. That will be supported to 2020 and beyond – so you’ll be able to buy new PCI-Express 4.0 graphics cards and SSDs and not have to necessarily upgrade your CPU and motherboard at the same time.

Elsewhere, AMD is introducing a technology called Precision Boost Overdrive – a revision of existing Precision Boost. It’s going to deliver a higher upper limit for automated overclocking. You’ll get around 200MHz more ability in single-core situations and an unspecified improvement in multi-core applications.

The new chips also have faster response times when it comes to clock speed changes. AMD is already better than Intel in this regard. AMD’s CPUs jump in 25Hz increments, while Intel only manages 100Hz.

All of these improvements don’t have a negative impact on power consumption figures. The new flagship, the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X and 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X have a TDP of 105W. That’s the same as the eight-core flagships from last year. Elsewhere, AMD’s new six- and eight-core CPUs sit at 65W and 95W, which is no different from older chips despite improved performance.

So, what to make of AMD Ryzen 3000? It’s a similar architecture underneath, but AMD has split its CPU cores and its IO to improve efficiency, performance and costs, while shrinking the chip down and reducing power consumption. There’s a lot to be excited about.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

The Range

Today is launch day for Ryzen 3000, and AMD is releasing five new CPUs.

The flagship chip right now is the Ryzen 9 3900X. It’s AMD’s first mainstream twelve-core CPU, and is the only Ryzen 3000 chip that is built from two chiplets – in this case, it’s two six-core modules. That also means it’s the only one here with 64MB of cache – twice as much as the rest of the parts.

It’s one of the few Ryzen 3000 parts that has a 105W TDP – no surprise given its beefier specification.

The Ryzen 9 3900X runs at 3.8GHz, with a Precision Boost clock of 4.6GHz. The closest comparison from last year’s range is the Threadripper 2920X, which also had twelve cores. That older CPU ran at 3.5GHz and 4.3GHz.

The Ryzen 9 3900X costs $499 or £480, and AMD intends this part to compete with the Intel Core i9-9920X. That’s a bold move, but not unexpected: that twelve-core CPU from Intel runs at 3.5GHz and peaks at 4.5GHz. The Intel chip is far more expensive than AMD’s new hardware – it costs an eye-watering $1,250 or £1,250.

Step down the Ryzen range and you’ll find two Ryzen 7 chips. The Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 7 3800X both have eight cores that can address sixteen threads, and both have 32MB of L3 cache. The 3700X runs at 3.6GHz and 4.4GHz, while the 3800X runs at 3.9GHz and 4.5GHz. The 3700X has a TDP of 65W, while the 3800X is a 105W chip.

The Ryzen 7 3700X costs $329 or £320, and the Ryzen 7 3800X costs $399 or £380. AMD is comparing these chips with the Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K.

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardThe Ryzen 7 3700X looks great when lined up against the Intel Core i7-9700K. That chip has eight cores but isn’t multi-threaded, and it has clock speeds of 3.6GHz and 4.9GHz. Intel’s CPU costs just over $400 or £360.

The Ryzen 7 3800X and Core i9-9900K both have eight cores with multi-threading, and Intel’s chip runs at 3.6GHz and 5GHz – so the AMD chip has better stock-speed pace. As before, the AMD chip is far cheaper, with Intel’s CPU sitting at $495 or £499.

So far, the two cheapest Ryzen 3000 CPUs are the Ryzen 5 3600 and the Ryzen 5 3600X. They’re both six-core chips with multi-threading. The Ryzen 5 3600 runs at 3.6GHz and 4.2GHz and costs $199 or £189, while the Ryzen 5 3600X has speeds of 3.8GHz and 4.4GHz and a launch price of $249 or £229.

The Ryzen 5 3600X will square up against the Core i5-9600K. AMD’s part looks good on paper – the Intel chip has six cores but no multi-threading, and the Core i5 CPU runs at 3.7GHz and 4.6GHz. The Intel chip costs just shy of $280 or £275.

So, on paper, it looks very good for AMD. Every chip in the new range is cheaper than its rival from Intel, and often with a significant price saving. For the most part you get better multi-core performance from AMD because all of its chips have multi-threading. And, while Intel does retain a lead with some turbo levels, AMD’s chips are always quicker at stock speeds.

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So, AMD’s new chips are cheaper than their rivals from Intel, they often have better speeds and better core counts, and the red team has introduced a load of exciting new technology as well as a die-shrink.

What performance should you expect?

We’ve not been able to go hands-on with these chips. AMD has released its own performance figures, which do always need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But, despite that, it’s looking cautiously optimistic for these new parts.

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardAMD’s own data shows that the Ryzen 7 3700X has a 15% performance improvement over a Ryzen 7 2700X in a single-threaded Cinebench test, with bigger gains coming in multi-threaded tests.

AMD claims that the Ryzen 9 3900X is 32% quicker than a Core i9-9900K in Adobe Premiere, 47% quicker in Cinebench but only 14% better in Handbrake.

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardLesser chips also have decent improvements. AMD says that the 3800X is 28% quicker than the Core i7-9700K in Adobe Premiere and 37% better in Cinebench but only 9% faster in Handbrake. Similar gaps were recorded when AMD compared the Ryzen 5 3600X to the Core i5-9600K.

So, in applications, AMD’s chips deliver a small improvement in single-threaded tasks and bigger gaps in multi-threaded benchmarks, which is good for content creation and other productivity applications. Indeed, it’s looking like Intel will take a serious loss in these kinds of tests.

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardThese new chips don’t look as impressive in gaming. AMD’s own data shows its chips only delivering very small gains over Intel chips in some titles like Black Ops III, CS:GO, Civilization VI and PUBG.

However, in other games AMD’s silicon is actually a little slower – it fell behind in Devil May Cry 5, GTA V, Overwatch and Rocket League. Leaked data also shows AMD’s chips falling behind a little in several 3D Mark test when compared to equivalent Intel chips.

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardSo, from these figures, it looks like AMD’s new chips will deliver good improvements in multi-threaded tasks, like creativity tools and productivity applications. However, it looks like single-core performance jumps are modest. It also looks like these parts will not outpace Intel in gaming tests.

It’s certainly not bad performance. In many respects it’s very good, with multi-core and productivity performance that looks like it’s going to knock Intel into next week.

It’s tempting to point at the weaker areas of these new chips and say that AMD hasn’t done a good job here, but that’s also not the whole story. AMD is delivering single-core gains, huge multi-core advantages and level gaming performance on chips that cost loads less than Intel’s equivalents, and that’s very impressive.

Things will get better, too. AMD is prepping a new flagship – the Ryzen 9 3950X. It’s coming in September, and it’ll have a mighty sixteen cores that can address thirty-two threads. No doubt it’ll be better than Intel’s equivalent chip in multi-core applications – while also being cheaper.

One final note: AMD is also releasing a couple of 3000-series APUs today. They may have the new brand, but they use the older architecture with only a minor speed bump.

Click here for our huge guide on 4K monitors – from finding the best features to picking the right panel!

The Ecosystem

AMD will continue to use its AM4 socket for its Ryzen 3000 chips, which bodes well for people with existing hardware.

If you’ve got a motherboard that uses the older X470 chipset, then it’ll likely only need a BIOS update in order to support the new CPUs. Check your motherboard manufacturer website for an update before you take the plunge and buy a new CPU.

The socket may be the same, but AMD is introducing a new chipset, called X570. It’s worth having a compatible motherboard if you want to use every new feature of this chip.

The X570 chipset supports eight USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports but no USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports – so you’ll always get better speeds. It supports four USB 2 ports rather than 6, like older chipsets. Overall you get support for 12 USB connections rather than 14. Still, that should be enough for anyone.

Elsewhere, the X570 chipset supports 16 PCI lanes, and its memory support has been upgraded to DDR4 3,200MHz. However, the vast majority of motherboards already go higher than this anyway.

The X570 chipset supports 12 SATA and SATA Express lanes, which is twice as many as the X470 chipset.

It’s a good slate of features, but the X570 chipset has a TDP of 15W – three times higher than X470. That means more heat being produced, which means boards will need better heatsinks and more effective cooling. Combine this with futuristic technology like PCI-Express 4.0, and we could well see motherboard prices increasing when compared to X470 products and Intel equivalent boards.

The new chipset isn’t revolutionary, but it does increase support in several important areas. With a minor chipset update and the same CPU socket used, motherboard designs won’t change a huge amount with this generation of Ryzen processor – but that also means it’s going to be easy for motherboard manufacturers to release loads of new boards for this generation. Happily, that means loads of choice.

Click here for our complete guide to new AMD X570 motherboards!

AMD Ryzen 3000 – Conclusion

AMD Ryzen 3000 AMD Ryzen 3000 review AMD Ryzen 3000 motherboardSo, with a new design, an improved manufacturing process and prices that undercut Intel, there’s clearly a lot to like about the AMD Ryzen 3000 series.

These chips look great for content creation and decent for single-threaded and gaming performance, too, and they can slot into many existing motherboards – so upgrading should be easy.

Will you be buying AMD Ryzen 3000? Look out for our AMD Ryzen 3000 review soon, too!

Discuss our AMD Ryzen 3000 Complete Guide on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading the AMD Ryzen 3000 Complete Guide, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

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Mike Jennings

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