Is Ryzen 3000 Good for Gaming?
It's finally happened. After more than 15 years of Intel dominance in gaming, AMD has finally caught up with its amazingly capable Ryzen 3000 CPUs. These chips not only match Intel blow for blow in gaming, but offer more cores and threads, longer sustained boost clocks, greater efficiency, and dominating productivity performance.
But that's not the whole story of AMD gaming in 2019. With the launch of a new-generation of RDNA-based graphics cards from the red team, AMD has powerful GPUs to pair up with its new monstrous CPUs. That means that for the first time in a long time, one of the best gaming experiences you can have is with an all AMD PC.
The jewel in AMD's hardware crown is undeniably its Ryzen 3000 processors. Based on its new Zen 2 architecture, these chips represent a major upgrade over the already capable Ryzen 2000 chips of 2018, raising core counts, clock speeds, and crucially, instructions per clock (IPC). That increase in IPC makes the chips faster at just about everything they do, but specifically, that means that Ryzen 3000 CPUs perform far faster at single and limited-thread workloads. Like games.
That's helped amazingly affordably gaming CPUs like the Ryzen 3600 and 3600X compete with far more expensive Intel alternatives like the 9600K and 9700K. With six-cores and 12-threads, they outperform the Intel competition in multithreaded tasks too, making them one of the best options for entry-level gaming systems.
If you have a little more to spend, one of the most exciting of the new Ryzen processors is the 3700X. A solid replacement for the last-generation 2700X flagship, this chip offers eight-cores and 16-threads with a boost clock that reaches 4.4GHz on a single core and over 4GHz on all cores at the same time. This chip is often as capable as Intel's 9700K and is hot on the heels of the 9900K in some tests – an amazing feat considering that Intel chip costs £125 more.
Better yet, it does so with a TDP of just 65w, so you don't need a monstrous cooling solution to keep this chip at comfortable temperatures. If you do though, you should be able to enjoy some added boost clock with the use of AMD's Performance Boost Overdrive tool, or some manual overclocking.
The 3800X boosts a little higher to 4.5Ghz if you want a slightly more capable gaming chip, but at the top of the pile sits the monstrously powerful 3900X. It has 12-cores and 24 threads, as well as clocking to 4.6GHz as and when required. It's the pinnacle of AMD's new chip lineup and is overkill for most gamers, but if you work on your PC as well as play, there are some serious advantages to that many threads on a mainstream CPU.
AMD isn't quite so dominant on the graphics front, but it still has some attractive options for gamers who want to build an all AMD PC. Graphics cards from years gone by like the RX 580 offer amazing 1080p performance, especially when paired up with a powerful gaming CPU like any of the new Ryzen 3000 options. Better yet, it's incredibly affordable, barely tacking on £200 to an overall system build. The RX 570 is a worthy consideration if your budget is a bit lower, although the 580 will give you much better frame rates.
If you need more power, the AMD RX Vega 64 is always an option. It's a little hot and power-hungry but with some tweaking, it can be made to be hotly competitive with mid-range graphics cards from Nvidia's new RTX generation and even gives AMD's new Navi cards a run for their money.
It's the RX 5700 and 5700 XT that are the most exciting AMD graphics cards in recent memory, though. They employ a brand new, 7nm architecture and are far more efficient for it. They consume less power than Vega cards but offer far higher clock speeds and they go blow for blow with Nvidia's best alternative in most popular games.
The reference blower coolers aren't everyone's favourite, but the new ones on AMD's 5700 cards are better than most and they help push all the warm air out the back of your case, keeping other interior components cooler.
Whether you want to spring for the more expensive 5700 XT, or the slightly cheaper 5700, either would be a fantastic compliment for your new AMD CPU.
AMD hardware, especially its graphics cards, is known for what's called a "fine wine" benefit. That is, that as game developers learn how better to program games for its chips and cores, AMD components tend to perform better as they age. That is both more and less likely to happen with the new generations of AMD CPUs and GPUs.
Where the new RDNA graphics cards are easier to develop games for right out of the box, offering great performance in the here and now, that means there's less likely to be additional headroom for improved performance down the road. However, within days of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs launching, problems were discovered with the way the chips were boosting and with the Windows scheduler potentially causing bottleneck issues, much like it did with previous generations of AMD Ryzen processors.
That means that as amazing as these chips are, we still haven't seen their full benefit. Somehow, AMD's already fantastic chips could get even better. It's quite likely that in the coming months we'll see more optimized BIOS for AMD motherboards and therefore AMD systems, which unlock additional and better automated overclocking. Microsoft will likely improve Windows scheduling to better utilize AMD Ryzen technology to best render games and handle productivity tasks, too.
Should you buy an all AMD PC today?
Unless you're waiting for a very specific third-party version of AMD's new graphics cards, there's never been a better time than now to buy an all AMD PC. For the first time in a long time, AMD can offer the best CPUs in the world and some of the better graphics cards. If you're an AMD fan, have a FreeSync monitor, or just want to get the best value for money, there's a hard argument to be made for an all AMD system; Especially when it looks like the AMD AM4 socket will continue to be used in 2020, making a processor upgrade in a year's time a simple and affordable one.
While there will always be something new and exciting coming over the horizon that may or may not be worth waiting for, in the here and now, AMD's hardware is the best it's been in years and an all AMD PC will keep you gaming and working at high speed for years to come.