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AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 Review: Low-End Gaming Gets a High-End Boost

$120 scores a potent chip

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

There are several interesting show-downs to keep an eye on as you flip through our performance charts. The Ryzen 5 1600AF represents a new value king that you can find for ~$85 (at times). AMD gave this first-gen chip a 12nm and Zen+ makeover long after it had come to market, and it's plenty impressive given its pricing—at least until now. We also have the Asia-exclusive Ryzen 5 3500X, which is AMD's only six-core six-thread Zen 2 processor. It doesn't support simultaneous-multithreading (SMT), which gives it a leg up in some games. 

We literally dusted off Intel's Core i7-7700K so it could make an appearance. AMD says the 3300X beats the 7700K in every test they've run—but we're overclocking it to 4.9 GHz (yeah, that's low, but this sample has always been less-than-great) to see how the two compare after overclocking. We also have the first-gen Ryzen 3 1300X to see how far AMD's graphics-less Ryzen 3 lineup has come in the last three years (AMD skipped an equivalent retail chip for its second-gen lineup).

And, of course, we have the Core i3-9100 squaring up with the Ryzen 3 3100, while the Ryzen 3 3300X does battle with the Core i5-9400F. Intel also chose to remove an overclockable Core i3 from its looming Comet Lake lineup, so we included the Core i3-9350KF to show what we'll be missing out on (aside from a $159 price tag for a Core i3). 

VRMark and 3DMark on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Synthetic gaming benchmarks often aren't generally indicative of real-world performance, but the 3DMark DX11 and DX12 tests are interesting because they measure the amount of raw computational horsepower exposed to the game engine. For now, most of today's game engines don't scale as linearly with additional compute resources, but these tests help us gauge how games could exploit processing resources as the engines become more sophisticated.

In the synthetic world of the Fire Strike benchmark, the Ryzen 5 3600 and 1600AF's extra cores and threads come into play as the workload exploits their enhanced parallelism. The Ryzen 3 3300X sets the tone early with a substantial lead over its main competitor, the Core i5-9400F. Similarly, the Ryzen 3 3100 easily outpaces the Core i3-9100. The DX12 Timespy physics test finds the Core i5-9400F taking the lead over the Ryzen 3 3300X, but the Core i3-9100 can't compete with the Ryzen 3 3100. 

VRMark test values per-core performance (a mixture of frequency and IPC), and it obviously prefers physical cores and lots of L3 cache. Here the Ryzen 3 3300X leads all of the Intel processors in their stock configurations, but the six-core six-thread Ryzen 5 3500X takes a small lead due to its lack of threading.

Civilization VI AI and Stockfish on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Civilization VI also values per-core performance, so it isn't surprising to see the overclocked 9350KF take the lead in this test of AI engine performance in a turn-based strategy game. The Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 outpace their competitors, the Core i5-9400F and Core i3-9100, respectively. 

Stockfish, an open-source chess engine, is designed to extract the utmost performance from many-core chips by scaling well up to 512 cores, with latency being less of a factor. That plays to the Ryzen 5 3600's generous helping of cores and threads, so it takes a huge lead over the rest of the chips (which also happen to be less expensive). The overclocked Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 both beat the Core i7-7700K. The new Ryzen 3 chips also serve up ultra-competitive performance at stock settings. Yeah, that's a $99 Ryzen 3 3100 beating the Core i7-7700K in this benchmark, if only by a minor amount.  

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation loves cores and threads, but clock rates also play a role. The Ryzen 3 3300X leads the test pool even at stock settings, with only its 6C/12T Ryzen 5 3600 predecessor unseating it for the lead. The Core i7-7700K holds its own against all but the Ryzen 3 3300X and 3600, but it's noteworthy that its 4.9 GHz overclock can't beat the 3300X. That's nothing short of impressive and likely stems from the 3300X's 16MB of L3 cache. 

The Ryzen 3 3100 falls to the $85 (sometimes) Ryzen 5 1600AF, which isn't surprising given the latter's six cores and 12 threads. Put in that perspective, the fact that the stock 3100 can keep up with a mere four cores and eight threads is impressive, and turning up the clocks to 4.4 GHz propels it above the performant Core i3-9350KF. It's noteworthy that, even after overclocking, the Ryzen 3 3100 can't keep up with the stock Ryzen 3 3300X. That's a trend that will repeat itself through the rest of the tests.  

Civilization VI Graphics Test on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Most gaming software is still optimized for low thread counts and high clock rates, and some game engines even prefer single-threaded cores. You can say all those things about Civilization VI, and the four-core four-thread Core i3-9350K fits the bill nicely. Regardless, it can't unseat the Ryzen 3 3300X in spite of its 600 MHz advantage after we kicked up the clocks. That's plenty impressive performance from the 3300X. It's noteworthy that the lone Ryzen chip without threading, the Asia-exclusive 3500X that you basically can't buy at a reasonable price, nearly matches the 3300X. 

Ryzen 3 3100 just edges past the Core i3-9100 at stock clocks, but Intel's strict overclocking segmentation keeps the 9100 from climbing up the charts like the 3100 does when we tuned it to 4.4 GHz. The Ryzen 5 1600AF also puts up a decent enough fight as it comes within striking range of the Ryzen 3 3100 and Core i3-9100, and tuning might unlock a bit more juice.

Dawn of War III on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Five long years of stagnation on the Skylake microarchitecture and the 14nm process has punished Intel and enthusiasts alike as we've been subject to incremental clock speed, and thus performance, increases every year. The Ryzen 3 1300X, which debuted at $130 back in 2017, reminds us that innovation is still a thing. AMD skipped product-in-box (PIB) graphics-less Ryzen 3 models with its second-gen Zen+ chips, instead relegating them to the OEM market, but what a difference three years makes. Now you can get nearly double the performance of the 1300X (at least in this title) for a mere $120 with the Ryzen 3 3300X. 

The Warhammer 40,000 benchmark responds well to threading, but it's clear that clock speed and IPC also matter. All these things play well with the Ryzen 3 3300X and it's beefy L3 cache. At stock settings the 3300X leads the pool of other stock processors, and with our admittedly right-at-the-edge overclock, it also beats the overclocked 7700K at 4.9 GHz and the 9350KF at 5.1 GHz. Both of those chips don't come with bundled coolers capable of sustaining those overclocks, either.

Far Cry 5 on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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The Core i5-9400F pulls off a rare win over the stock Ryzen 3 3300X and the two overclocked Intel processors to take the overall lead in Far Cry 5. Meanwhile, the Core i3-9100 leads over the Ryzen 3 3100, indicating this title plays particularly well with Intel architectures. 

Final Fantasy XV on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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We run this test with the standard quality preset to sidestep the impact of a bug that causes the game engine to render off-screen objects with the higher-resolution setting. The overclocked Core i3-9350KF takes the lead once again, but it falls to the Ryzen 3 3300X in out-of-the-box configurations. The Core i5-9400F and i7-7700K are closely matched in this series of gaming tests, indicating that Intel's response to competitive pressure, which comes in the form of higher clock rates and added cores, has steadily added more value in its mid-range processors. We expect competition to be even more heated for the mid-range when Comet Lake launches. 

Hitman 2 on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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The Core i7-7700K's four cores and eight threads assert themselves in this title after overclocking, but once again the Ryzen 3 3300X takes the lead over it and the Core i5-9400F in the stock configurations. Ryzen 5 3600 and the 3300X have traded a few shots throughout our tests, with the latter often serving up the lion's share of the 3600's performance, but at a lower price point. Tuning the Ryzen 5 3600 would open up a bit more of a lead, but the Ryzen 3 3300X is undoubtedly a great value. 

The Ryzen 3 3100 takes an impressive lead over both the Core i3-9100 and the Ryzen 5 1600AF in this title. The 1600AF has been a favorite for bargain-basement chip hunters, leading to inflated prices recently, but the Ryzen 3 3100 is a much better buy for gaming and modern connectivity options. 

Project Cars 2 on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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Although Project CARS 2 is purportedly optimized for threading, clock rates obviously affect this title's frame rates. The Ryzen 3300X is impressive here, beating out the rest of the field in the battle of stock configurations. Intel's Core i3-9350K takes the unequivocal lead after overclocking. Meanwhile the Ryzen 3 3100 trails the Core i3-9100 at stock settings.  

World of Tanks enCore on Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100

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The Core i3-9350K can be devastating in some titles when it's pushed to its max clocks, and that trend plays out in the World of Tanks Encore benchmark. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 3 3300X trades blows with the Ryzen 5 3600, which is one of AMD's most popular chips. If you're primarily interested in gaming, the Ryzen 3 3300X provides enough performance to take the shine off the 3600, especially because it leaves more room in the budget for a better graphics card. 

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  • InvalidError
    If we take Intel's stock 7700k as a placeholder for 10th-gen i3s, looks like Intel will have some more catching up to do with AMD's stock 3300X.
    Reply
  • AlexTSG
    Just a correction for the first page in the Specifications and Pricing section:

    ...but you'll need to step up a tier to the six core 12-thread Ryzen 5 3600...

    Great article. I'm surprised how well the 3300X does in particular. It seems like AMDs biggest competition for these CPUs will be from it's own Ryzen 5 1600AF.
    Reply
  • Myrmidonas
    An impressive CPU. I expect clever configurations around it.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Hmm, you know, if I were building an AM4 system today, the 3300X would definitely supplant my choice of $85 1600AF for gaming purposes. MAYBE even the 3100. Very cool stuff.

    Also:
    AMD didn't send our samples with a stock cooler, so we pushed a spare Wraith Spire into service to measure the impact on performance at stock settings. As we demonstrated on the second page, cooling matters, so you'll need a better cooler to unlock the best of the Ryzen 3 3300X.

    The Wraith Spire cooler is the lowest-end budget cooler for the Ryzen 3000 series, which shows. We experienced high temperatures in extended workloads, and the fan was generally noisy as it ran at full speed to keep temperatures in check. But, to keep things in perspective, Intel doesn't provide a stock cooler at all with its overclockable i3 model, and bundled coolers at this price point are generally lackluster. It's a shame AMD didn't bundle the Ryzen 3 3300X with the Wraith Spire, as that would allow enthusiasts to crack open more of the overclocking potential.

    Wait, shouldn't those first 2 of the 3 mentions of "Wraith Spire" here actually say "Wraith Stealth"?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    King_V said:
    Hmm, you know, if I were building an AM4 system today, the 3300X would definitely supplant my choice of $85 1600AF for gaming purposes.
    The 1600AF's limited availability probably disqualifies it from many people's shopping list too. For people building new right now, another significant issue is going to be availability of reasonably priced 3rd-gen-ready B-series motherboards: last time I looked, most were either out of stock or marked up by $20-50.
    Reply
  • King_V
    InvalidError said:
    The 1600AF's limited availability probably disqualifies it from many people's shopping list too. For people building new right now, another significant issue is going to be availability of reasonably priced 3rd-gen-ready B-series motherboards: last time I looked, most were either out of stock or marked up by $20-50.

    Ugh, yeah, I've noticed that trend recently. Hopefully it's a temporary issue....
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    King_V said:
    Hmm, you know, if I were building an AM4 system today, the 3300X would definitely supplant my choice of $85 1600AF for gaming purposes. MAYBE even the 3100. Very cool stuff.

    Also:
    Wait, shouldn't those first 2 of the 3 mentions of "Wraith Spire" here actually say "Wraith Stealth"?
    Yes. Paul was up all night finishing testing and writing. I'm giving the article a full technical editing pass now. (I'm west coast, so a couple hours later than intended, but such is life.) We will flog Paul once he wakes up. :D

    Update: And the editing pass is done. You can now blame me for any remaining errors, though I must admit I skimmed pages 3 and 4 a bit.
    Reply
  • King_V
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    Yes. Paul was up all night finishing testing and writing. I'm giving the article a full technical editing pass now. (I'm west coast, so a couple hours later than intended, but such is life.) We will flog Paul once he wakes up. :D
    ROFLMAO!!

    And, NOT having been up all night, I can't tell you how many times my eyes have blurred the distinction between Stealth and Spire.

    I think I (usually) notice when Prism is mentioned, but I make no guarantees on that!
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    AMD just dropped a bombshell that you won't be able to use Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 series CPUs on 300 and 400 series chipset motherboards, which means eBay and other such sites may be flooded with relatively inexpensive X370 and X470 motherboards, making the B550 motherboard irrelevant.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    AMD just dropped a bombshell that you won't be able to use Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 series CPUs on 300 and 400 series chipset motherboards, which means eBay and other such sites may be flooded with relatively inexpensive X370 and X470 motherboards, making the B550 motherboard irrelevant.
    I'm not sure that will be the case, as the same slide mentions that X370 and B350 are not supposed to support Ryzen series 3000... Yet it works.
    Reply