AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs: Here’s everything you need to know

Ryzen 3000 has already made huge impact, and it's only getting started

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

AMD’s new generation of Ryzen 3000-series processors are here and they have in many ways matched the sky-high expectations of them. Based on a next-gen Zen 2 architecture, Ryzen 3000 processors offer dramatic performance improvements over their predecessors in the Ryzen 2000 series with improvements to clock speed, core count, and instructions per clock. That makes them not only a great choice for AMD fans, but a worthwhile consideration for Intel ones too.

These are the best chips AMD has ever made and they’re more competitive with Intel than the red team has been in more than a decade.

Pricing and availability

Having launched officially on July 7, almost every Ryzen 3000 CPU is available to buy both singularly and as part of pre-built systems. There is an additional CPU, the 3950X, coming in November, and there have been some issues with stock due to the immense popularity of the new Ryzen processors, but for the most part, if you want a new Ryzen 3000 chip you can get one.

As for pricing, they run the gamut. The 3200G APU starts at just $95, with its companion APU, the 3400G, starting at $144. The Ryzen 5 3600 is $195, though it can be found for as little as $170 in some great deals, while the 3600X is most commonly found at $235. The 3700X is priced at $329, while the more selectively-binned 3800X is $399. The king of the hill, the 3900X, is $565.

These prices are hotly competitive with Intel’s 9th-generation chips. With performance being so close in many cases, AMD’s new Ryzen processors often represent better value for money.

Desktop Ryzen 3000

amd ryzen 3000 cpu everything you need to know zen2architecture

The Ryzen 3000 series is built upon a successor architecture to the Zen and Zen Plus cores used in the first and second-generation chips, known as Zen 2. It represents a major overhaul of the design of the CPUs, as well as a die shrinking for certain components. In a similar fashion to AMD’s “Rome” Epyc server CPUs, AMD has split its next-gen chips into “chiplets,” built on TSMC’s 7 nm FinFET process. They contain the CPU cores and are paired with a 12nm input/output (I/O) processor that gives them direct connections to memory, which should reduce the latency concerns that we saw on similar designs with the Zen and Zen Plus-based Threadripper CPUs.

The full lineup of currently available AMD Ryzen 3000 desktop chips is as follows:

CPU Cores/Threads Base clock Boost clock TDP
Ryzen 5 3600 6/12 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 65w
Ryzen 5 3600X 6/12 3.8GHz 4.4GHz 95w
Ryzen 7 3700X 8/16 3.5GHz 4.4GHz 65w
Ryzen 9 3800X 8/16 3.6GHz 4.5GHz 105w
Ryzen 9 3900X 12/24 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 105w

Note: The Ryzen 9 3950X is expected in November and will offer 16 cores and 32 threads, with a boost clock that can reach 4.7GHz. It will have the same 105-watt TDP as the 3900X and 3800X.

Although these specifications fall short of the rumored 5GHz we heard tell of before their reveal, it’s important to note that there are other enhancements at play that contribute to an overall uptick in performance. AMD CEO Lisa Su revealed that Ryzen 3000 chips enjoy a 15% increase in instructions per clock. That, combined with the efficiency boost from moving to 7nm and the new, enhanced design of the Zen 2 cores, provides a big boost to both single-threaded and multithreaded performance for all Ryzen 3000 CPUs.

In our testing, we found that across the board, Ryzen 3000 CPUs are, blow for blow, pretty close to Intel’s best counterparts in gaming. The 3600X is just as capable as the 9600K, the 3700X as the 9700K, and the 3900X as the 9900K. While the Intel chips typically remain competitive across the board (their much higher clock speeds are a big factor there) AMD’s chips now offer more IPC than Intel’s offerings and that really shows in gaming.

That makes AMD’s Ryzen 3000 processors great for gaming, but where they really shine is in multithreaded workloads. Thanks to the massive core counts and across the board support for simultaneous multithreading (Intel’s hyperthreading is reserved for its 9th-generation Core i9 CPUs only) AMD’s chips dominate Intel in productivity workloads and even compete with its $1,000 plus HEDT chips like the 9960X.

X570 motherboards

The new chipset for third-generation Ryzen CPUs is the X570. These new generation motherboards aren’t strictly necessary for Ryzen 3000 CPUs, since they’re based on the same AM4 socket (see below) as the last two generations of Ryzen platforms, but they do bring some exciting enhancements to the table.

PCIe 4.0 is a major advancement for both Ryzen 3000 and will be supported on X570 motherboards at launch. It may be added to more mid-range motherboard solutions further down the line as well as some X470 boards through a BIOS update. It will double the bandwidth of PCIExpress 3.0 and opens the door to greater graphical bandwidth and higher speed PCIe solid-state drives too.

These boards support up to 128GB of DDR4 memory and up to 5G Gigabit Ethernet.

Some of them require dual eight-pin CPU power connectors and due to the power requirements of the X570 chipset, all of the revealed boards so far require active cooling, as well as additional passive cooling across the PCB, especially on the VRMs.

AM4 Socket

Like Zen and Zen Plus platforms, the Zen 2 chips utilize the AM4 socket. That means the Ryzen 3000 CPUs can work in existing AM4 motherboards with a BIOS update and future motherboards built with the new-gen chips in mind should support first and second-generation Ryzen CPUs in turn.

The only caveat there is that the higher core counts of some Ryzen 3000 CPUs require greater power. That means that certain first-generation and even some second-generation boards won’t be compatible. It’s going to be down to the manufacturer on a case by case basis, so make sure that your board can support the new-gen CPU if you’re planning to upgrade your chip without a new motherboard.

AMD has pledged to continue to use the AM4 socket through 2020 when Ryzen 4000 CPUs (based on the Zen2 Plus architecture) are expected to be released. That means that not only will those looking to upgrade to the Ryzen 3000 series from existing Ryzen platforms not have to upgrade their motherboard at the same time, but they won’t have to do so for the Zen 2 Plus chips either. That could make it a much more cost-effective upgrade, and the backward compatibility opens up many more options for potential buyers.

Overclocking

Overclocking has been a major factor in CPU purchasing decisions for decades, so what can AMD’s Ryzen 3000 chips do for the enthusiast wanting more performance? It turns out, not much in actuality. AMD has tuned its Performance Boost Overdrive and automated overclocking algorithms so well, that Ryzen 3000 CPUs act more like modern-day graphics cards. They boost as high as they can go taking into consideration the workload, and thermal and power headroom.

All-core overclocks that approach the rated boost clock have been possible under extreme cooling solutions, but for the most part, AMD Ryzen CPUs perform better (especially in games) when given a decent cooling solution and left to their own devices. There is some additional performance that can be unlocked by overclocking the infinity fabric between the chips and I/O die and tweaking memory, but it’s not substantial.

In comparison, Intel’s chips overclock very well. Most 9900K buyers can easily overclock them to 5GHz, but Intel boost clocks are only maintained for a minute or two, whereas AMD’s chips will stay as fast as they can go for as long as they can. While Intel’s chips might offer more headroom for those willing to tweak, the new Ryzen 3000 CPUs give you near-maximum performance right out of the box.

Threadripper

Threadripper 3000 CPUs are expected to debut before the end of the year, though specifications and pricing remain unannounced at this time. We have seen some leaked performance numbers, which point to at least 32 cores and stellar single-threaded and multithreaded performance. They should give Intel’s new Cascade Lake X chips a run for their money, if not handily outpace them.

Mobile Ryzen 3000

AMD kicked off its discussion of the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs at CES 2019 with the unveiling of its entire lineup of mobile CPUs. It confirmed earlier rumors from a leaked road map that suggested the Ryzen 3000 series mobile APUs would be code-named Picasso and built upon the Zen Plus architecture, rather than the new Zen 2 design.

Mobile APU Cores/threads Process node L2 & L3 cache Base/Boost frequency Vega GPU cores GPU frequency TDP
Ryzen 7 3780U 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.3/4.0GHz 11 1,400MHz 15w
Ryzen 7 3750H 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.3/4.0GHz 10 1,400MHz 35w
Ryzen 7 3700U 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.3/4.0GHz 10 1,400MHz 15w
Ryzen 5 3580U 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.1/3.7GHz 9 1,300MHz 15w
Ryzen 5 3550H 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.1/3.7GHz 8 1,200MHz 35w
Ryzen 5 3500U 4/8 12nm 6MB 2.1/3.7GHz 8 1,200MHz 15w
Ryzen 3 3300U 4/4 12nm 6MB 2.1/3.5GHz 6 1,200MHz 15w
Ryzen 3 3200U 2/4 12nm 5MB 2.6/3.5GHz 3 1,200MHz 15w
Athlon 300U 2/4 14nm 5MB 2.4/3.3GHz 3 1,000MHz 15w

The Ryzen 3000 mobile CPUs come in dual-core and quad-core varieties, with some sporting simultaneous multithreading for up to eight supported threads at one time. Boost clocks reach up to 4GHz on the fastest 3780U and 3750H CPUs, with entry-level options sitting well south of 3GHz.

Since these are based on the 12nm Zen Plus architecture, rather than the Zen 2 that the desktop 3000-series will be built on, the performance improvement over the 2000-series Ryzen mobile chips is unlikely to be as dramatic as in the desktop space. However, the increases in clock speed will provide a small bump in power in compatible laptops.

As with that first-generation though, these chips are all AMD APUs, rather than just dedicated CPUs. They come bundled with Vega graphics cores, which make them relatively capable gaming chips. They’re not enough to make their systems gaming laptops, but they’re certainly more capable than Intel’s traditional UHD 620 onboard graphics.

The Ryzen 7 3780U, with its 11 Vega cores will be the most capable of the lot, but will only be found in Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3, as an AMD Ryzen Microsoft Surface Edition processor. The same goes for the 3580U.

Asus’ new Ryzen 5 3550H-powered laptop, the FX705DY, is said to be capable of seven hours of video playback, but can switch to a dedicated Radeon RX 560X when more graphical power is needed.  AMD also announced a number of partnerships with major manufacturers at Computex 2019, so expect to see a much broader array of AMD-powered laptops before the end of the year.

As exciting as that is though, AMD may need to speed up the proliferation of Ryzen 3000 laptops, as Intel’s Ice Lake chips look set to dominate on the mobile performance front later this year.

Updated on October 8, 2019: Updated news for 3950X, Threadripper 3000, and Ryzen 7 3780U.

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