AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X CPUs Conclusions
Some people still see AMD as “the cheap option.” Historically, that point of view wasn’t entirely unjustified. AMD’s first microprocessors were reverse-engineered Intel designs, and budget chips like the K6-2 have been some of its biggest successes, financially. However, the team-formerly-colored-green was also responsible for the first 1-GHz x86 CPUs, the creation of the x86-64 ISA, and the first monolithic multi-core desktop CPUs.
Zen 2 is the latest example of AMD’s ability to take risks and blaze new trails in microprocessor design. Even though these CPUs are built in an entirely new way, they’re pin-compatible with extant boards. They see generous per-clock and per-thread performance gains over the previous generation, yet still increase clock speed, too. The fact of the matter is that the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X are extremely fast CPUs. Even if you skipped to the end and didn’t read the rest of the review, you still don’t have to take my word for it; check out these scatter plots.
This first scatter chart collates all of our non-gaming tests into a single score and then compares them with the Ryzen 7 1800X’s performance as a baseline. Ever since the launch of the very first Ryzen CPUs, we’ve been saying that Ryzen is a no-brainer for creative and scientific computing—as long as your workload isn’t a specific weak point for AMD’s architecture.
All you really have to do is look at that bright blue dot for the Core i9-9900K and then look at where the Ryzen 7 3700X sits in relation. After, look at the Ryzen 9 3900X. In comparison, AMD’s CPUs give you the option to pay a lot less for a bit lower performance, or to pay the same price for a much more capable CPU in most types of work. What about for play?
Make no mistake: if you’re a hard-core CS:GO competitor or a 240-Hz DyAc addict, you’ll want an Intel CPU. Everyone else, especially those playing with more modest GPUs or in high resolutions, should be be perfectly satisfied with the gaming performance of these third-generation Ryzen chips—and I say that without even taking into account the fact that some games, like Crysis 3 and GTA V, love these processors.
Of the two, the eight-core Ryzen 7 3700X makes a better case for itself as a gaming CPU. It comes awfully close to the Core i7-8700K in overall gaming performance, and tops it in two titles. It’s also capable of streaming using x264’s medium preset, where the Core i7 just can’t hack it. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 9 3900X offers slightly better gaming chops and stunning performance-per-dollar in productivity apps. Anyone who plays games and produces content on the same computer will be well-served by a Ryzen 9 CPU.
Having said all that, there’s also the matter that these are the most efficient CPUs we’ve ever had on the bench. Plus, the X570 platform offers more and faster high-speed I/O than anything Intel offers on the desktop right now. Finally, like every Ryzen CPU, these chips are fully unlocked for overclocking. I didn’t have time to explore that avenue in this review, but given how efficient these processors are, a modest clock speed bump could be virtually guaranteed to those who go looking for it.
It’s worth remembering that we got the performance we did from these chips with their included Wraith Prism coolers, too. Builders don’t have to shell out extra for a heatsink that can hold the Ryzen 7 3700X or Ryzen 9 3900X in check, but if they do, AMD’s SenseMI intelligence will simply take that thermal capacity into account and let the chips run harder within certain boundaries. The fact that AMD includes fine stock cooling in the box only puts an exclamation point on the value of these processors.
Any time a company talks up its products, you have to take it with a measure of salt. AMD in particular has a history of making bombastic claims of dubious merit, but this time around, that’s not the case. The leaps that these processors make from their second-generation forebears are the sort of generational improvements that make me wistfully recall the era of the Athlon thumping the Pentium 4. We’re not to that point again—yet—but these are the first Ryzen CPUs that I can recommend unreservedly, and that’s definitely worthy of a TR Editor’s Choice award.