AMD is hitting hard with Ryzen 3. The quad-core models aren't as aggressively segmented as Intel's Core i3 family, so you get unlocked ratio multipliers, a competent Wraith Stealth cooler, and a lower cost to entry. And it isn’t like overclocking Ryzen 3 1300X requires much effort; we used a B350-based motherboard and the stock thermal solution for a quick and easy jump to 3.9 GHz.
In comparison, Intel's only overclockable Core i3 is pricey on its own, and that's before you factor in an expensive Z270-based motherboard or third-party heat sink/fan.
The following price efficiency chart uses a geometric mean of the 99th percentile frame times (a good indicator of smoothness), which we convert into an FPS measurement and plot against price. Our suite includes six games released in 2016 and five older titles that launched in 2014/2015. Ryzen's extra cores could enable more performance in the future as software evolves to utilize them better, so we also include a chart with newer games that exploit host processing resources more thoroughly.
At stock settings, Ryzen 3 1300X only lags the more expensive Core i3-7300 by an average of 2.2 FPS across our suite. That shrinks to a negligible 1.75 FPS when we focus on newer games. You probably won't be using a GTX 1080 with Ryzen 3 either, so graphics bottlenecks will pop up more readily than what we saw. The story changes when we apply an overclock. Suddenly, Ryzen 3 1300X takes the lead any way you dice up the results.
Intel recently slipped two new -7120 and -7340 models into its Core i3 line-up, but we don't know what they'll cost yet. Using their positioning in Intel’s product stack as a guide, the -7340 will likely battle Ryzen 5 1400, while the -7120 takes on the Ryzen 3s. We don’t expect Core i3-7120 to change our position much: it only offers 100 MHz more than the -7100 and it'll probably cost more. Intel does give you HD Graphics 610 and 630 across its Pentium and Core i3 line-ups, which is an advantage over the Ryzen models. So, if you're only doing office work and don't plan on buying an add-in GPU, Intel's the way to go.
However, enthusiasts looking for a speedy chip should strongly consider the Ryzen 3 1300X. It's an excellent value that leaves room in your budget for other high-performance devices. It also gives you spare cores for productivity applications. AMD has solidified its AM4 motherboard ecosystem, so the platforms are stable, and we can confidently recommend them. We’ll follow up with in-depth application testing, but initial signs are positive. After all, it isn’t hard to imagine that quad-core models will best Intel's dual-cores offerings in most productivity applications.
Make no mistake, you’ll see the Ryzen 3 1300X on our Best CPUs list soon. We'll circle back with application testing in the Ryzen 3 1200 review. Meanwhile, the Coffee Lake processors can’t come soon enough for Intel.
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