AMD Ryzen 7 3700X Review 103

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X Review


Value and Conclusion

  • The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X sells for $330.
  • Beats Core i7-9700K in applications, matches i9-9900K
  • Gaming performance significantly improved, 10% over previous generation
  • Outstanding multi-threaded power efficiency
  • Unlocked multiplier
  • Supports existing AM4 motherboards
  • Much bigger L3 cache, lots of other architectural improvements
  • Improved memory support
  • Heatsink included
  • Support for PCI-Express 4.0
  • Could be cheaper
  • Still not as fast as Intel in gaming
  • No integrated graphics
AMD's new Zen 2 family of processors starts a new era in CPU technology by introducing the chiplet design made up of several optimized pieces of silicon that are designed to excel at their tasks, while reducing cost significantly at the same time. Instead of a large monolithic die, AMD broke their CPU up into multiple parts that are easier and cheaper to manufacture because of their smaller die size. In silicon manufacturing, a bigger die is harder to make because chances of randomly distributed defects ending up in your silicon go up the bigger the die. AMD was also wise to keep the I/O controller die on the 12 nanometer process because it doesn't benefit from 7 nanometer tech, and they can continue using GlobalFoundries for that instead of the more expensive TSMC fabs.

The Ryzen 7 3700X is the second-most powerful in AMD's Ryzen 3000 lineup for now—the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X is scheduled for later this year. With its 8 cores and 16 threads, the 3700X cruises through all our multi-threaded workloads, beating even the much more expensive Intel Core i9-9900K (8c/16t) in most of these tests, which is very impressive. AMD successfully addressed the weaknesses in their Zen architecture with Zen 2, which helped improve IPC significantly. Averaged over all tests in our brand-new application test suite, we see the Ryzen 7 3700X beat the Core i7-9700K by around 10%, roughly matching the Core i9-9900K. As mentioned before, multi-threaded applications are best-suited to the 3700X. Single-threaded apps definitely run faster than on previous Ryzen processors, but Intel still has the upper hand here due to higher IPC and higher clock frequencies.

When looking at gaming, our results confirm that AMD has caught up big time here, too, and the performance differences are much smaller. At higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K, the gap is pretty much non-existent, and parity with Intel has been reached. However, you probably don't even need such a fast CPU for gaming at these resolutions as even the Intel Core i5 processors deliver almost identical frame rates here. I expect the same will be true for AMD's Ryzen 5 3600/3600X we'll be reviewing very soon. The king of the hill for gaming performance is still the Core i9-9900K, though, and this becomes apparent at the resolution of 720p, which completely removes the GPU bottleneck and puts CPU performance under a microscope. Here, both the Intel Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900 have a lead of about 10%, though pretty much only because their processors run at higher clock frequencies.

While we could overclock the 3700X easily, the maximum clock frequency is not high enough to compete with what Precision Boost Overclocking offers. Normal CPU OC locks all the CPU cores at the same frequency, no matter how many cores are active. This means that your maximum overclock is limited by the stable all-core overclock frequency of the processor. PBO, on the other hand, is smart and will adjust the CPU frequency depending on how stressful the workload is, which means that lightly threaded workloads run at much higher clocks than what would be possible with manual overclocking. This is reflected in our performance results, and we recommend you only enable PBO on this processor and don't waste your time with manual overclocking unless you run highly threaded apps all day, like rendering or encoding.

A reworked memory subsystem not only improves compatibility with various memory vendors, but also helps overclockers because memory speeds above DDR4-3600 are now in reach. We tested this in a separate article today and can confirm that DDR4-4000 was not any more difficult than on Intel. Overclocking and tweaking is vastly simplified by AMD's Ryzen Master software, which in its latest iteration is better than ever, saving you from having to go into the BIOS all the time.

Power efficiency of Zen 2 is good, definitely improved over previous generations, probably due to the 7 nanometer production process. What caught our attention was multi-threaded energy usage, which measures how much total energy is used to complete a specific task—it takes into account not only power draw, but also the time required to complete an operation. Here, Ryzen 7 3700X claims the top spot as the most energy efficient processor we have ever tested. Temperatures are fine, too, due to a soldered heatspreader, even though they are slightly increased over previous-generation Zen 2 models.

Priced at $330, the Ryzen 7 3700X is relatively affordable and cheaper than the $410 Intel Core i7-9700K. Unlike the Intel processor, AMD was kind enough to include a heatsink with their processor, so you can get your new rig set up immediately. The included heatsink is not some cheap low-quality heatsink, but a great cooler that can handle the processor's heat output with ease. Pricing of the processor itself has remained flat over the generations. The 3700X launches at the same $329 as the 2700X did. What has changed, though, is platform cost. AMD X570 chipset motherboards are significantly pricier than boards based on X470. Luckily, these processors offer backwards-compatibility with older platforms. Guess AMD no longer has to compete on price alone—the Ryzen 7 3700X is an excellent choice that's almost seeing eye to eye with Intel.
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