AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X CPUs reviewed

Far Cry 5

The fifth installment in the Far Cry series is set in rural Montana, and while you might not think them all that similar, as someone born and raised in rural Texas, I feel right at home. Of course, that could be as much an indictment of my hometown as it is praise of Ubisoft’s simulacrum. While Far Cry 5 will sprad some work out across multiple cores, its performance relies heavily on how fast a chip can churn through a single thread.

Look at those pencil-thin frame-time plots. Far Cry 5 is an impressively-optimized game. It’s also probably the most single-threaded-performance-sensitive title in our set of gaming benchmarks. Our new Ryzens acquit themselves very nicely in Far Cry 5; while they don’t quite match the raw speed of the Coffee Lake CPUs, they still turn in excellent performances, especially in terms of smoothness.

As with Hitman, Ubisoft’s pastoral sandbox is a perfect showcase for how much smoother games run on third-generation Ryzen CPUs. The Ryzen 7 3700X spends one-sixth of the time beyond 8.3 ms that the Ryzen 7 2700X does. The Ryzen 7 1800X spends nearly ten times as long working on sub-120-FPS frames.

Gaming and streaming with Far Cry 5 and OBS

Both AMD and Intel have extolled the virtues of many-core CPUs for video game streaming. After all, most games barely make any real use of six cores, much less eight, ten, or more. Most recently, AMD demonstrated Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 on stage at E3 on one of the very same Ryzen 9 3900X CPUs that we’re reviewing today. However, The Division 2 is a multiplayer online game, and that makes it a little harder to benchmark reproducibly. Instead, we’re going to use Far Cry 5.


The home screen of Open Broadcaster Software, previewing our stream of Hexen: Beyond Heretic.

We ran the game through our normal benchmark scenario on each system while streaming using Open Broadcaster Software and its built-in x264 software encoder. Our canvas resolution was the same as our base resolution, which is to say that we were streaming in 1920×1080, at 60 frames per second, with a video bitrate of 6 Mbps. We used the same in-game settings that we used for the benchmarks on the previous page.

The x264 AVC encoder has a variety of presets ranging from “ultrafast” down to “placebo.” These presets control how much analysis the codec does when encoding each video frame. With a constant bit rate—which means a constant file size—the preset primarily affects encoding speed and image quality; the slower the preset, the better your stream will look. Most game streamers use the “veryfast” or “faster” presets while streaming.

AMD’s demo at E3 was impressive, but a little unrealistic.

In the demo at E3, AMD used the “slow” x264 preset. AMD technical marketing honcho Robert Hallock correctly noted on-stage that this is a much more demanding scenario than most hardware is even capable of. Indeed, we tested the “slow” preset and found that only two CPUs in our data set were able to stream smoothly at that setting: the Ryzen 9 3900X, and the Threadripper 2920X. In both cases, however, doing so clogged up the CPU to the point that the stream was dropping a few frames here and there.

A few dropped frames isn’t that big of a concern, but our test run is relatively sedate. Intense combat is likely to increase the game’s demands on the CPU. Furthermore, many streamers use various overlays including camera and input feeds as well as audience engagement tools. All of these overlays, as well as the step of compositing them into the stream, use additional CPU (and GPU) time. With that in mind, we decided to exclude the “slow” results from our benchmark test here. Results marked with “(medium)” used that preset; otherwise, tests were done with the “fast” preset.

There are so many results that our “Frame times by percentile” graph became a blurry mess, but you can easily see at a glance that every result becomes a lot less flat while streaming. Compare to the game-only results on the previous page.

There are a few take-aways here: the Ryzen 9 3900X is just about as good at streaming this game as the Core i9-9900K, the Ryzen 7 3700X more-or-less matches the Core i7-8700K, and HEDT CPUs are just not suited for this kind of thing.

Sacrificing a bit of your game’s performance to use x264 software encoding is always going to give superior stream quality over a hardware encoder, assuming your machine can handle the extra load. The question of what x264 preset you should use is going to come down to what game you’re playing, what hardware you have, how much ancillary software you’re running (such as the aforementioned overlays), and what kind of experience you want to deliver to your viewers. With that said, hardware encoders continue to improve, and some users will inevitably find that the overall experience is better while employing Intel’s QuickSync, Nvidia’s NVENC, or AMD’s VCE.

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Voca
Voca
3 years ago
Reply to  FRED

If they do that, then they should technically add the cost of the corsair into the price scatter-plot. It would only be fair since wraith coolers are free.

Mat
Mat
3 years ago

Where’s the 5700XT review?

FRED
FRED
3 years ago

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X & AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – > Cooling: AMD Wraith Prism
Intel Core i7-8700K & Intel Core i9-9900K -> Cooling: Corsair H110i
syrlysly?

JVee
JVee
3 years ago
Reply to  jesuscat

AnandTech had that problem back in 2001 IIRC and fixed it. There’s a Print option that makes the entire review a single page. ScanAudio speaks very highly of the new AMDs and DAWBench tests show the 3700X on par with 9700/9900 and beating all Intel’s on IPC from the 7700k back. Pretty impressive. There’s also evidence of super low latency overclocked DRAM that actually speeds up certain workloads. This definitely is no reverse engineered Design. Best news, Intel is going to counter before years end, leaks no doubt. CES 2020 will be Intel’s revenge. I’m still getting the 3700X just… Read more »

Jb
Jb
3 years ago
Reply to  jesuscat

I liked the dropdown that lest you quickly see the title for each page and quickly switch between them.
Would be nice to have something that achieves the same functionality back.

jesuscat
jesuscat
3 years ago

The lack of a next page button is really hampering the readability of the article. I wonder if there would be a way to code it. the page numbers are too easy for me to misclick when i poke my finger at the screen.

f0d
f0d
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Funk

im actually selling my ryzen 1700X and getting an intel mostly just because it might be the last overclockable cpu if intel goes the same way and releases cpus so close to the limit that they cant be clocked any further
i know im a niche but i actually like overclocking and since intel cpus are pretty cheap now after the price cuts im going back to the dark side

rudimentary_lathe
rudimentary_lathe
3 years ago
Reply to 

Unless you need the horsepower of additional threads, I don’t see much reason to replace the 8700K. That’s still a very capable chip.

rudimentary_lathe
rudimentary_lathe
3 years ago
Reply to 

Unfortunately, the age of overclocking is largely over. Manufacturers are increasingly squeezing every last inch of performance out of the box, and the little left remaining is now often handled pretty well by software overclocking tools. I actually have more fun undervolting my CPUs now to maintain performance while lowering the power bill.

Zen 2 is more power efficient, roughly on par with Intel in IPC, and significantly cheaper. Those are huge wins for the marketplace, but not as sexy as big overclocker.

rudimentary_lathe
rudimentary_lathe
3 years ago

Solid review Zak, thanks. Great to see TR with a launch day review again. I have a few questions: 1. With the 3700X, are both CCXs on the same CCD? There was a pre-lease rumour that claimed there would be one CCX on each of 2 CCDs? 2. The 6-core 3600 seems to get the same amount of L3 cache – 32MB – as the 8-core 3700X? Is that right? 3. Why is AIDA64 memory write so low on the 3700X vs the 3900X? 4. Crypto seems comparatively weak vs. Intel – any thoughts as to why and performance ramifications… Read more »

f0d
f0d
3 years ago
Reply to 

Why?
They both R5 and i5 have 6 cores and games don’t really use more than that and from other reviews I have seen sometimes smt hinders performance and sometimes it helps so it’s a wash with smt
I have learned to never predict future game core usage and to buy what’s good NOW and to upgrade often instead of buying the expensive thing hoping it will last long by predicting future game usage
My 3930k taught me that lesson

For non gaming it’s a no brainer everyone knows ryzen is way better for the price

Redocbew
Redocbew
3 years ago
Reply to 

If I was in the market right now I wouldn’t buy an i5. I’d get an i7, or maybe the R5 3600X. The thing is that the i7 9700k is $400, and local deals are… local. If you can get one that’s great, but not everyone can.

f0d
f0d
3 years ago

Pretty disappointed in ryzen myself
With all the talks about high clocks it sucks seeing them pretty much at their max clocks out the box and still behind Intel in gaming overall

It wouldn’t be so bad being behind if you could overclock them but they are pretty much max clocked out of the box and even with high voltage reports are they don’t go any higher than around 4.3ghz all core

With the recent discounts on intel CPUs they are a better alternative at a better price

[url<]https://www.pccasegear.com/products/46914/amd-ryzen-5-3600x-with-wraith-spire[/url<] [url<]https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44159/intel-core-i5-9600k-processor[/url<] $359 9600k vs $389 3600X

f0d
f0d
3 years ago
Reply to  drfish

Why would you be sad about the 9600k?
At the same clock it’s still faster than ryzen in games (but not in cinebench which is odd) and it comes with a faster clock and overclocks better
Not sure how much it cost you but with the discounts on it at my local computer shops it’s cheaper than the 3600X
[url<]https://www.pccasegear.com/products/46914/amd-ryzen-5-3600x-with-wraith-spire[/url<] [url<]https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44159/intel-core-i5-9600k-processor[/url<] It's still a better CPU imo than the ryzen

jensend
jensend
3 years ago
Reply to 

Pet peeve: people using “exponentially” for any increase more than linear, or for any accelerating growth process. A little bit of math leads us to expect that the dominant term in the relationship between power consumption and processor clock is cubic rather than exponential. And from what I’ve seen that holds reasonably well for these kind of relatively small frequency changes close to a processor’s design point. Ignoring lower order terms, that would lead us to expect the 3800X to take 27% more power. I suspect that the 40W TDP difference, which is 62% more, isn’t just the higher power… Read more »

GatoRat
GatoRat
3 years ago

I’ve been thinking about the AMD 3700X for my next build. One reason I hesitate is that I got badly burned by the chipset for the Athlon 64 build I did years ago.

My youngest son wants me to update now since he’ll get my old system, but I’m in no rush and I was quite surprised by how well the Core i7-8700K held up.

MOSFET
MOSFET
3 years ago
Reply to  Klimax

[quote<]but he can't tell you - for reasons.[/quote<] now i get it

MOSFET
MOSFET
3 years ago
Reply to  FormerGerbil

X370 and X470 follow-up would be superb. I have two X370 Asus boards (Strix and Prime) that I would be willing to loan to TR for a follow-up review. (And that could come with a Ryzen 5 1600 in it.)

I agree with you on the 3700X also. What a killer value.

bhtooefr
bhtooefr
3 years ago
Reply to  barich

The “northbridge” on those systems didn’t include the memory controller, though, I thought – I thought the Clarkdale/Arrandale memory controller was on the graphics die.

MOSFET
MOSFET
3 years ago
Reply to  Morjens

65W – 105W are targets, not set in stone (as one example)

leor
leor
3 years ago

I really would have thought my 7900x would have been more future proof. It’s delidded and running on an all core 4.6 OC, so it’s fine but 2 years ago 10 coars and 20 threads was SO INCREDIBLE, and it’s like that 1,000 CPU plus the extra 200 for delidding, and well it will be (and is fine). However when you drop that kind of coin you don’t expect it to be disrupted to quickly, I guess in another year I might be buying whatever comes after this from AMD should this process continue. Really excited to see competition back!… Read more »

leor
leor
3 years ago
Reply to 

Hey Scott, I’m playing a mobile game with a woman from Lee’s summit, I actually asked her if she knew you (small towns and all, I’m from NY and stuff), of course she didn’t, but it was a nice throwback.

And yes, VERY nice to see a launch day TR review, I’m not the top contributor for no reason, will ANYONE dethrone me???

Damage
Damage
3 years ago
Reply to  Spunjji

Nope. This is on Zak and the TR staff. Good job, folks!

njoydesign
njoydesign
3 years ago
Reply to 

Now kill it! Another article OCing whatever there is out of these chips. Can they hit 4.7 all-core with better cooling and aggressive voltage? What about RAM, does 4000 make things better? What about the latest AGESA? Still so many questions and so little answers…

njoydesign
njoydesign
3 years ago
Reply to  chuckula

Breathtaking!

on a more serious note, nice review, I was kinda surprised to see it so early)) My hypetrain honestly got derailed quite hard, i was expecting better clocks, but still, well done AMD. 5700XT also is a nice welcome, just not at that price, IMO.

Keziwithchimi
Keziwithchimi
3 years ago

I’m tempted to buy, but I do not trust the mothers with factory fans.

I absolutely need a fan replacement article for those fans on the mother. Is it doable and practical? if you need to discard a mother because the fan failed, then it is worthless.

I lost a lot of hardware to accumulation of carpets of dust.

RAGEPRO
RAGEPRO
3 years ago
Reply to  Morjens

I think it simply comes down to AMD simplifying things for OEMs. By providing two TDP targets OEMs can safely make a “65W” cooler and a “105W cooler.”

RAGEPRO
RAGEPRO
3 years ago
Reply to  Meadows

Aight bro, I fixed it for you. 🙂

tipoo
tipoo
3 years ago
Reply to  Sweatshopking

Through their floundering years I always wanted to pick up some of their stock at $2 and just hold it for years and see what happened. Kicking myself in the butt for that one lol

tipoo
tipoo
3 years ago
Reply to  chuckula

He promised, you heard it here first!

tipoo
tipoo
3 years ago
Reply to 

Having lived through nearly 16 years of their CPUs largely whelming though, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate this return to competition regardless. I do expect Ice Lake will take back the IPC crown in a big way in short order, but that looks like it can only clock high enough to be suitable to ultrabooks for now.

thecoldanddarkone
thecoldanddarkone
3 years ago
Reply to  Meadows

While it’s not entirely true, it’s definitely the norm.

K-L-Waster
K-L-Waster
3 years ago
Reply to  Klimax

Something about that phrase sounds familiar…

Srsly_Bro
Srsly_Bro
3 years ago

X570 chipset is quite a bit more power-thirsty than earlier Socket AM4 chipsets—so much so that AMD’s partners equipped every single X570 mainboard with active chipset cooling.

This is incorrect. The oarus xtreme x570 doesn’t have a chipset fan.

GurtTractor
GurtTractor
3 years ago
Reply to  Fox

Ah, dang. That’s a shame, but I expect it’s probably a sizeable improvement. Hopefully someone out there will test this, you guys are one of the only ones that I’ve seen do DAW stuff.

Thanks.

DPete27
DPete27
3 years ago
Reply to 

For a “golden” sample on LN2 it’s possible, but….

Krogoth
Krogoth
3 years ago
Reply to  keziwithchimi

It isn’t unthinkable. AMD should have been able to best a nearly-five year old architecture (Skylake) and its derivatives.

albundy
albundy
3 years ago

i wonder how theHEVC encoding compares to the Turing NVENC with the 3900x.

srg86
srg86
3 years ago
Reply to 

For me a graphics card is simply a waste of money, I don’t play games.

And that’s not to say I think the Performance and Perf-Per-Watt of these new Ryzen’s aren’t very impressive, because they are.

It’s just it would take Intel to make “Netburst 2” to make me switch back to AMD again, and with Sunny Cove coming, with purportedly a similar percentage IPC improvement to Zen 2, on I hope 10nm, that doesn’t seem likely, I think Intel learned their lesson.

I also hope Intel learned it with the 10nm debacle………

drfish
drfish
3 years ago
Reply to  drfish

Yeah, you probably should have waited.

thecoldanddarkone
thecoldanddarkone
3 years ago
Reply to 

Anyone who thought they were going to get 5ghz were um, optimistic. It looks like most reviewers got around 4.3 on all core overclocking (from what I could tell). I say they had pretty decent results overall. Bringing the prices down on CPU’s is always nice. I’ll pass but I have a current cpu. Changing out processors and boards is just not worth it.

Krogoth
Krogoth
3 years ago
Reply to 

9700K and 9900K are fine if you are willing to tolerate the cooling that it is needed to keep the beasts tame at maximum load.

K-L-Waster
K-L-Waster
3 years ago
Reply to  drfish

Sure makes the “5GHz” leaks over the past while look pretty dodgy, doesn’t it?

DPete27
DPete27
3 years ago
Reply to  superjawes

Wow. And they’re really bordering on false advertising with the “max” boost clocks. His samples could barely if at all) hit their advertised max boost clocks even on custom water cooling.

I wonder what clock speeds are with TRs samples under the stock coolers.

cygnus1
cygnus1
3 years ago
Reply to  anyrandomname

Well, neither version is obsolete. The 1809 build will continue getting updates for quite a while. More importantly, not everyone updates to the latest Windows release as soon as it’s released, especially since 1903 hasn’t even been fully rolled out by MS. This optimization theoretically should provide a decent benefit for processes that spawn threads that are tightly dependent on each other, for instance processes like games. Windows by far being the gaming enthusiast OS of choice and TR typically benchmarking gaming related hardware and software, I think it makes sense to benchmark something that could possibly provide a tangible… Read more »

derFunkenstein
derFunkenstein
3 years ago

Really regretting my 9600K purchase right now

derFunkenstein
derFunkenstein
3 years ago

With the Zen based consoles coming I’m not sure I’d skimp on cores even for games.

derFunkenstein
derFunkenstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Morjens

Because physics. Power consumption scales exponentially. Ask any overclocker. They know.

DPete27
DPete27
3 years ago

Interested to know why the 3700X is just 65W, but the 3800X needs 40W more (+60%) for only an extra 300MHz (+8%)

kloreep
kloreep
3 years ago

I’d be curious to see gaming numbers for the 3600X if y’all get your hands on one. From what I’ve heard there is indeed not much use for more than 4-6 cores in current games, seems like that may be the real MVP for a dedicated gaming box.

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