The Choice Is OBVIOUS – AMD Ryzen 3900XT, 3800XT & 3600XT Review & Benchmarks
A few weeks ago I quickly covered two new AMD announcements, the availability of B550 motherboards and three new Ryzen XT CPUs. Well… they are sort of new, since there Ryzen 9 3900XT, Ryzen 7 3800XT, and Ryzen 5 3600XT aren’t all that different from their predecessors. When we published that video a lot of you expressed concerns about their pricing, overall performance, and most importantly what their launch would do to AMD’s current lineup.
We finally have all three of them in lab, and this review is going to follow our usual course. The first thing we will walk you through is what has changed in terms of specs, and then go over how the new XT series compares to what is already out there. Lastly, we will finally wrap up with a metric ton of benchmarks. Also, keep in mind that a lot of the benchmarks that you are going to be seeing in just a bit have been updated with new numbers, and the reason for that is over the last few months there have been some major updates for Windows and some applications that we use. With that out of the way, let’s talk about these new XT CPUs right after this.
Models & Price
Before I get into the juicy details, I think it is important for me to set the stage a little bit. Today actually marks exactly 1 year since Zen 2 and Ryzen 3000 series CPUs were launched. Over the course of those 365 days AMD has proven that it can dominate Intel on almost every front, even after Comet Lake was announced, if anything that CPU lineup showed how much ground Intel had to make up, but AMD still can’t sit on their heels either. This got me thinking that with all these massive successes, a firm leader over the competition and Zen 3 – which is confirmed to be launched later this year – why even bother with the XT series? Well I have an answer or more like I have an assumption. It all starts with AMD’s use of an enhanced 7nm architecture for these new processors. During the last year they have been able to fine tune transistor characteristics to get higher performance through better frequencies without increasing voltage, power consumption, or heat. Those refinements will probably be carried over into Zen 3, so this is a great opportunity for a production test run before the updated manufacturing process gets rolled into the next generation of CPUs. Technically this should mean less headaches down the road while we get some new tech to talk about.
What kind of advancements are we actually going to see right now? Well like a lot of you said it is pretty underwhelming, at least on paper. Starting off with the Ryzen 5 3600XT, it gets a 100MHz boost to the single core boost clock versus the 3600X. The Ryzen 7 3800XT gets a bit more generous bump of 200MHz do it is a single thread clock and you will notice the 3700X is enlisted here. That is probably because it is already so close to 3800X’s performance that adding an XT version would make a 3800X kind of pointless. The big boy of this new lineup is the 3900XT, and when lined up against the 3900X you only get a 100MHz bump once again. Now I really need to highlight one very important thing, all of those frequencies are listed as “up to”, and from our experience it does take a little bit of work to hit those frequencies on a regular basis.
First of all, you need to find the right mojo with your motherboard settings. On our ASRock X570 Taichi that meant leaving everything to auto, while on the MSI X570 Ace we needed the above settings. You also need to make sure that Windows attacks enough idle, processor time, that it parks course into a completely idle state in order for that to happen on a regular basis. I found you need to disable always-on applications like Adobe Creative Cloud and the AutoDesk app, and we also found an issue with Steam, Uplay, and Origin requesting CPU cycles that directly impacted Cinebench single core results.
Minor Actual Frequency Differences
Once those hoops were jumped through this is what we actually saw. While AMD claims the 3900XT hits 4.7GHz, we saw an average sustained frequency of 4.62GHz. That is still 50MHz higher than the 3900X, so it is something I guess. However, when it comes to peak single thread speed the CPU did indeed hit 4.75GHz every now and then. Switching to multi-threaded workloads, AMD doesn’t claim any improvements, but when averaged out over the course of a 20 minute run there is a really, really small 20Mhz advantage. Let’s see where that comes from since it impacts the behavior of all the XT CPUs. There were quite a few times throughout the all-core test where the cores are consistently boosting 15Mhz to 50Mhz higher. This will probably cause a very, very narrow advantage for the 3000XT CPUs in some applications, but not enough to make a visible difference. This pattern repeated itself almost identically for the 3800XT though. It has a slightly larger single core advantage over the 3800X since its boost clock has been increased by 200MHz. The 3600XT is a copy and paste of that too, with higher peaks but very similar averages compared to the 3600X.
So with all of that taken into account, there isn’t going to be a huge performance leap over the non-XT, but there is a huge price gap between them. Like a lot of you brought up in the last video AMD’s retail partners have already started to lower prices on the 3900 next be 3800X, AMD 3600 next. So let’s check out how they all line up. Basically what you are going to see is the XT variance hitting the same prices as their predecessors did a year ago. The main problem is those reduced prices now would be 3900X at $420 USD. The 3800X at $320 USD and 3600X at just $220 USD. Meanwhile, the 3700X will continue to be at $275, but when you start looking at things, paying between $30 and $80 for a few extra megahertz seems like a pretty raw deal. I should also mention that the 3900XT and 3800XT don’t have coolers, while the 3600XT includes a Wraith Spire in its box.
Before I jump into any conclusions, let’s head into the benchmarks. You can see the complete system specs above. Starting things off with single threaded performance, and here it looks like there is a small bump when moving from the X series to the new XT’s models. It isn’t much at only around 5%, but it’s there in this one case. Things change when moving on to purely multithreaded benchmarks, and this is something we will see pretty much throughout both synthetic and real-world tests. Basically, the 3900XT, the 3800XT, and the 3600XT don’t offer any tangible benefits in CPU intensive applications. Meanwhile, in programs that are slightly less multi-threaded or use the GPU for secondary processing, the benefits are a bit higher. And I mean “a bit”, this is a result of a higher sustained speeds over the course of each test but it doesn’t amount to much in the real world.
In gaming, pretty much all of these mid-level and higher end CPU is align with one another. However, if you dive down a bit into the results, the differences in average frame rates between the X and the XT series was literally nothing. There was a slight bump in 1% lows for the faster CPUs, but it wouldn’t make it visible impact in gameplay. Another thing that AMD mentioned is the XT series should see more of an advantage in games that are sensitive to frequencies. We didn’t see any of that here, but maybe it comes down to which titles we are using and the fact that every one of them is set to the highest detail settings. Power consumption showed really minor increases for all these processors, except the 3900XT which was a bit high. Personally, I think this is because the 3900X we have in the office tends to run really cool and seems to be an overall more efficient chip compared to some of the others that we have come across. Either way, all these numbers are pretty much within the margin of error.
A lot of you mentioned that these refreshed processes from AMD seemed pretty underwhelming since they don’t offer a huge leap in terms of performance, but they also cost a lot more than the CPUs that are currently in the market right now. And unfortunately, that is the conclusion that we have come to. Based on what AMD has been bringing to the table over the last year, the 3000XT series just look like a poor value. When you look at the current lineup the Ryzen non-XT CPUs are at their lowest price point right now, which is amazing. It almost feels like AMD was expecting their refreshed processors to be able to achieve higher sustained speeds, but that just didn’t happen and they were sort of forced to launch them anyway.
As for the competition – like the new Comet Lake lineup – well I’m just going to voice some caution for AMD. In general, Ryzen 3000 processors offer a phenomenal value when compared to anything in Intel’s lineup, but these new CPUs almost wipe out any pricing advantage. Yes, the XT still wins by a long shot in many productivity applications, but many Intel CPUs tend to be an overall better choice for gaming, even if they are attached to an outdated platform. A few price cuts for Intel could really ruin the XT series, at least in gaming. In the end, if you are in the market for a new AMD CPU skip the XT series because the small benefits that you gain in terms of performance don’t seem to be justifiable considering how expensive they are compared to the current Ryzen in lineup. I would save that money and just invest that into a better GPU or storage.
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