AMD Ryzen 3000XT review -- Flexing because you can

AMD Ryzen 3000XT review — Flexing because you can

Motion is relative. That’s true of objects in space, and it also applies to the companies that make computer processors. We can tell that AMD is moving ahead because we have the stalling Intel as a comparison. But you can also look at how AMD is moving now compared to the way it carried itself in the past to find evidence of a newly acquired swagger. And the new AMD Ryzen 3000XT CPUs are the result of that.

The Ryzen 9 3900XT, Ryzen 7 3800XT, and the Ryzen 5 3600XT exist because they can. AMD is no longer trying to catch up to Intel, and that means the company now has the bandwidth to quickly answer any potential products from its competitor. These new chips don’t really change the dynamics in the battle between AMD and Intel. The reasons to buy one processor over the other are still the same as they were before. What’s changed is AMD. It wants to keep Intel on its heels while controlling the narrative, and it’s succeeding at that.

So what are the Ryzen 3000XT CPUs? They are largely the same as last year’s Ryzen 3000 chips but with a slight improvement to single-core clockspeeds of 100-to-200MHz. If that doesn’t sound like much it’s because it’s not. This is about trying to squeeze ahead of Intel in a few select benchmarks. And I guess it’s just lucky that all of us hardware enthusiasts love gabbing about exactly this sort of thing.

Let’s get to it.

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Ryzen 3000XT performance

For the AMD processors, I tested with the following hardware

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard
32GB HyperX Predator 3200MHz memory
EVGA SuperNova 1000 G3 PSU
Samsung Evo 860 1TB SSD
NZXT Z73 CPU cooler
PBO disabled

For the Intel processors:

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
Aorus Z490 Master motherboard
32GB HyperX Predator 3200MHz memory
EVGA SuperNova 1000 G3 PSU
Samsung Evo 860 1TB SSD
NZXT Z73 CPU cooler
MCE disabled

My results pretty much tell the story I was expecting. The 3900XT can boost higher than the 3900X for longer periods of time. My 10900K still pulled out a better single-core Cinebench score, though. The overall highest single-core Cinebench score I got was from the Ryzen 7 3800XT. It slightly edged out the 3600XT and the 10900K. But as much as I love that AMD is picking this fight, I just need its single-core performance to not be a drag on gaming. And all of its chips more than surpass that threshold. If you’re buying a Ryzen, it’s because of the multi-threaded performance.

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In gaming, the 10900K and the 3900XT traded victories. And these differences are exaggerated for the purposes of illustration. I’m testing at 1080p and, typically, at reduced graphical settings to put more strain on the CPU than the GPU. In the real world, on a 1440p or 4K display with ultra settings, the delta between nearly all of these processors shrinks.

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AMD’s clever misdirection

In the end, I appreciate this flex from AMD if only because I think it shows that it’s paying attention. No one was really asking for 100 extra MHz from their 3900X, and dear lord don’t replace yours with a 3900XT. That is absurd.

The 3000XT chips do reveal, however, how shrewd AMD is now. These processors are meant for Intel. They are more important for the back-and-forth between those two companies than for actually getting customers excited to buy hardware. They are the kind of parts you read about while waiting for the Zen 3 desktop CPUs. And that’s what makes them so perfect for resetting customer expectations.

AMD is not shipping the 3900XT or the 3800XT with stock coolers. AMD’s reasoning makes sense. Most people who buy those kinds of parts use their own after-market coolers. But that doesn’t mean that AMD is cutting the price. The company is selling the 3900XT for the $500 that the 3900X debuted at.

This is teaching AMD enthusiasts that fans are no longer a guarantee, and you may not get one with the Zen 3 CPUs later this year. And I bet many will accept that much easier now because of the 3900XT.

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