AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Review

Written by Antony Leather

July 7, 2019 | 14:02

Tags: #3rd-gen-ryzen #am4 #pcie-40 #ryzen #x570 #zen-2

Companies: #amd

Manufacturer: AMD

UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £479.99 (inc. VAT)

US price (as reviewed): MSRP $499 (exc. tax) 

The hype train has, as usual, been working overtime the last few months as enthusiasts scramble for any insights into just how fast AMD's new Zen 2 CPUs are. Today has been highly anticipated, and the reasons for this are two-fold, really, as the company faces two key challenges. Firstly, it it needs to close the gap on Intel, which still often wins in lightly-threaded workloads and game titles. Secondly, Zen 2 represents both a shift in manufacturing process from 12nm to 7nm and a new architecture, and the result is an expectation of significant performance boosts across the board - far higher than we saw with Zen +. Today, we'll be looking at what's gone on behind the scenes with the Zen architecture and also reviewing the Ryzen 9 3900X as well as the Ryzen 7 3700X, with the latter in a separate article.

Model Cores/Threads Base Freq Boost Freq Total Cache TDP (Watts) Included cooler SEP (USD) Availability
Ryzen 9 3950X 16/32 3.5GHz 4.7GHz 72MB 105W Wraith Prism RGB $749 September
Ryzen 9 3900X 12/24 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 70MB 105W Wraith Prism RGB $499 July 7, 2019
Ryzen 7 3800X 8/16 3.9GHz 4.5GHz 36MB 105W Wraith Prism RGB $399 July 7, 2019
Ryzen 7 3700X 8/16 3.6GHz 4.4GHz 36MB 65W Wraith Prism RGB $329 July 7, 2019
Ryzen 5 3600X 6/12 3.8GHz 4.4GHz 35MB 95W Wraith Spire $249 July 7, 2019
Ryzen 5 3600 6/12 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 35MB 65W Wraith Stealth $199 July 7, 2019

Let's take a brief look at what we're dealing with in terms of cores, frequencies, and other changes. For starters, the boost frequencies scale fairly linearly as you move up the stack in price and core count, so the best performance in many cases will be from the more expensive CPUs if we're talking stock speeds. For example, the Ryzen 9 3950X offers a peak boost speed of 4.7GHz while the Ryzen 5 3600 is no faster than the Ryzen 5 2600X (in terms of boost frequency) at 4.2GHz. That's a sizeable gap and is much higher than we've seen before and this linear frequency hike is new too - the Ryzen 5 2600X with its 4.2GHz boost frequency was 100MHz faster than the more expensive Ryzen 7 2700 on that metric.

Clearly, then, it's a somewhat different product stack this time, one that will need some careful consideration. Those boost frequencies are of course not all-core boost numbers, by the way, but for those that are interested, they sat at around 4GHz all-core for the Ryzen 7 3700X and 4.05GHz for the Ryzen 9 3900X when under our EK WaterBlocks EK-MLC Phoenix 240mm CPU cooler (better/worse cooling can affect the number you get here).

The brilliant news is that the new chips aren't much more expensive in terms of equivalent CPUs either, especially launch prices. Admittedly, the mighty 12-core Ryzen 3900X that we're looking at in this review has no real equivalent in previous generations, but its $499 launch price is the same as the eight-core Ryzen 7 1800X retailed for at launch - not bad for a 50 percent increase in cores/threads. Compared to current pricing for equivalent 2nd Generation Ryzen CPUs, meanwhile, the Ryzen 7 3700X is set to retail for $329, a hefty $120 more than the 8c/16t 65W Ryzen 7 2700 right now but only $30 more than its initial launch price.

Under the hood, though, things are very different (something that we'll look into in more detail over the page), and these changes will hopefully go a long way to justifying the price bump.

AMD has a chance to seize on Intel's 10nm delays here, especially as it's only early July, meaning there's a good six months at least before we're expecting anything from the blue team in terms of mainstream offerings that give Zen 2 CPUs a run for their money. Interestingly, AMD is also dumping everything but the 16-core Ryzen 3950X on retailers today, so from the outset everything that Intel has above $200 - that's essentially everything above the Core i5-9500 - is in the firing line by the time you read this. Let's take a look at the new architecture and see and how the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X perform.

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