UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £124.99 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $129.99 (exc. tax)
With Ryzen Threadripper an imminent arrival along with the rest of Intel's HEDT processors, most of the rest of 2017 is going to be filled with some expensive high-end gear. However, the Ryzen mainstream train hasn't quite finished dropping off its important cargo yet, as today sees the release of Ryzen 3.
Specifically, this is the Ryzen 3 1300X and Ryzen 3 1200 (the latter we'll have a full review of very soon) - two CPUs that are perhaps even more key to AMD's desktop success than Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7. That's for the simple reason that both CPUs retail for less than £130, yet not only are they both true quad-core parts, they are multiplier-unlocked and overclockable as a result.
This poses a challenge for the current lineup of Intel CPUs in a similar price range and for several reasons. For starters, everything below £130 Intel-wise only has two cores and up to four threads. These AMD CPUs still cap out at four threads since they lack Simultaneous Multi-Threading (AMD's answer to Intel's Hyper-Threading), but even so, where there's a core deficit, Intel often comes off worse in multi-threaded tests, even when it enjoys a frequency advantage.
Second, both the Ryzen 3 1300X and 1200 are overclockable, so while the Ryzen 3 1200 in particular has some fairly low clock speeds out of the box, if you can get them up to similar speeds as other Ryzen CPUs we've seen, which is around the 4GHz mark, they'll be matching the frequencies of many of Intel's dual-core CPUs anyway. It's also worth noting that this would be faster than the Core i5-7400, which has a maximum turbo frequency of 3.5GHz, so AMD could even be edging in on Core i5 territory too.
Of course, the main reason to be excited by these CPUs is price. At just £105 for the Ryzen 3 1200, you only need to add an £80 B350 chipset board such as Gigabyte's AB350M-Gaming 3, and you've got a potential 4GHz quad-core and motherboard bundle with change from £200. That's £20 less than the Core i5-7600K costs alone and cheaper even than the multiplier-locked Core i5-7500. Clearly, then, in value terms, AMD could be onto a winner here.
Both Ryzen 3 CPUs are available with the company's Wraith Stealth CPU cooler as shown above, and with a 65W TDP for both CPUs, this will likely be enough to deal with small overclocks given our samples never topped 65 °C with a single-fan all-in-one liquid-cooler. However, you're still dealing with a quad-core CPU that's only 26W lower than a Core i5-7600K in terms of TDP. Would you cool that with such a tiny cooler? Probably not, but for stock speed purposes it will offer plenty of cooling..
• Base frequency 3.5GHz
• Turbo frequency 3.7GHz
• XFR boost 200MHz
• Manufacturing process 14nm
• Cores/Threads 4/4
• Cache L2: 4 x 512KB; L3: 8MB
• Memory controller Dual-channel DDR4, up to 2,667MHz
• Packaging AMD Socket AM4
• Thermal design power (TDP) 65W
• Features XFR, Precision Boost, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4, SSE4.2, EM64T, F16C
March 12 2019 | 19:11