The largest slice of the client CPU market is the sub-$150 market segment, and its buyers cover everything from budget desktops to entry mainstream gaming PCs. Although AMD has sold several of its recent FX-series and A-series models for under $150, they did not receive the kind of market attention AMD had hoped for, which is in part due to a large per-core performance leadership by Intel, and aggressive pricing. The software and games intended for these markets ran perfectly fine on these chips, with the occasional nudge, such as games beginning to require at least 4 logical CPUs, forcing Intel to deploy HyperThreading on even its Pentium and Celeron-branded dual-core parts. The slightly higher range of these dual-core parts has been dominated by the Intel Core i3 brand. Equipped with HyperThreading and 3-4 MB of L3 cache, these chips provide single-core performance that's in league with pricier chips and good enough multi-threaded performance to keep AMD at bay. This is the segment AMD wants to carve up, riding on the success of its new "Zen" CPU architecture.
AMD already launched sub-$170 quad-core Ryzen 5 series processors, which feature SMT, enabling 8 logical CPUs, something Intel reserves for >$290 SKUs. The Ryzen 5 1500X presented an interesting value proposition, while the Ryzen 5 1400 came across as a little underpowered despite its $20 lower price. The quad-core Ryzen 5 series duo put a dent into the overall value of competing lower-end Core i5 quad-core chips. AMD needed something to take on the sub-$150 dual-core Core i3 parts and hence created the Ryzen 3 series.
What sets the Ryzen 3 series quad-core chips apart from their Ryzen 5 series quad-core siblings is the lack of SMT. The main pitch here is four real cores at a price Intel asks for two. There are two other key features Intel's competing offerings lack - a fully unlocked base-clock multiplier, which makes overclocking a breeze, and 8 MB of L3 cache, which at least looks better on paper than the 3-4 MB from Intel. You get support for the full spectrum of high-speed DDR4-3200 memory. The chips also feature a reasonable TDP rating of 65W, which makes them fit for SFF builds with small coolers.
AMD carved the Ryzen 3 series quad-core chips out of its 14 nm "Summit Ridge" silicon by disabling two cores per CCX (quad-core compute complex), resulting in four cores, and by disabling 4 MB of L3 cache per CCX, resulting in a total of 8 MB of L3 cache. The line-up consists of the faster Ryzen 3 1300X priced at $129 and the slightly slower Ryzen 3 1200, priced at $109, which we're reviewing today. Their main respective competitors from Intel are the Core i3-7300 and i3-7100. The cheapest quad-core from Intel will continue to elude you in the sub-$150 segment, forcing you to front at least $189 for the i5-7400, and so AMD's idea here is to convincingly beat Core i3 dual-core parts and take a swing at Intel's entry-level Core i5 quad-core parts in at least some multi-threaded scenarios; with unlocked multipliers and large L3 caches sweetening the deal a little.
The Ryzen 3 1200 we're reviewing today ticks at 3.10 GHz, with 3.40 GHz boost, and if your CPU cooling is up to the task, the XFR (extended frequency range) feature will add another 50 MHz to the boost frequency for a single core. The chip is effectively 450 MHz slower than the 1300X, which can run as high as 3.90 GHz with XFR (single core). The socket AM4 chip is compatible with all motherboards based on the A320, B350, and X370 chipsets, although you'll need either the B350 or X370 chipset for CPU overclocking. The chip is priced at $109 and includes the new AMD Wraith Stealth cooling solution, a compact fan-heatsink that has been tuned for low noise. In this review, we compare the Ryzen 3 1200 with its main competitor, the Core i3-7100, and most other rivals.
|Pentium G4560||Core i3-7100||Ryzen 3 1200||Core i3-7300||Ryzen 3 1300X||Ryzen 5 1400||Core i5-7400||Core i5-7500||Ryzen 5 1500X||Ryzen 5 1600|
|Cores / Threads||2 / 4||2 / 4||4 / 4||2 / 4||4 / 4||4 / 8||4 / 4||4 / 4||4 / 8||6 / 12|
|Base Clock||3.5 GHz||3.9 GHz||3.1 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.2 GHz||3.0 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.2 GHz|
|Max. Boost||N/A||N/A||3.4 GHz||N/A||3.7 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.7 GHz||3.6 GHz|
|L3 Cache||3 MB||3 MB||8 MB||4 MB||8 MB||8 MB||6 MB||6 MB||16 MB||16 MB|
|TDP||54 W||51 W||65 W||51 W||65 W||65 W||65 W||65 W||65 W||65 W|
|Process||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm||14 nm|
|Socket||LGA 1151||LGA 1151||AM4||LGA 1151||AM4||AM4||LGA 1151||LGA 1151||AM4||AM4|