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AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Review: First-Gen Zen Gets Refreshed

Zen and Vega go for round two.

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
(Image: © AMD)

Rendering

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We don't really expect users in this price class to lean on heavily-threaded rendering applications much, but performance here is important for some mundane tasks, like photo editing. 

Here we can see the higher-end Ryzen 5 3600 deliver an overwhelming performance advantage due to its six cores and twelve threads, but down in the lower end of the test pool, the Ryzen 5 3400G competes well given its low price point and comparatively light allocation of four cores and eight threads. To find a faster processor for rendering in this price band, you'll have to dish out $23 more for a Core i5-9350KF. However, if you select that chip and plan to do any type of meaningful gaming, you'll have to add in the price of a discrete GPU. 

Encoding

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The Ryzen 5 3400G benefits from overclocking in the single-threaded LAME encoder, but the Core i3-9100 and i5-9400F carve out a slim lead at stock settings. The -9350KF is even more impressive with its single-core 4.6 GHz boost, but its pricing isn't acceptable for this price segment. 

The Intel/Netflix-designed SVT-AV1 represents a new breed of encoders that leverage multi-core architectures well, but the Ryzen 5 3400G doesn't fare as well in this test. We see the same trend in the HandBrake tests, and the reason is simple: AMD's first-gen Zen architecture isn't quite as adept at AVX workloads as its predecessor, handing Intel the per-core lead in applications that leverage vectorized code.

Web Browser

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Browsers aren't often perceived as an important or particularly demanding workload, but the snappiness of your everyday web browsing experience is heavily impacted by a combination of instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput and frequency. Web browsers generally tend to be impacted more by the recent security mitigations than other types of applications, so Intel has taken a haircut in these benchmarks of fully-patched systems. 

That handicap doesn't stop Intel from sweeping the competition, though, especially when we compare the first-gen Zen architecture to Intel's highly-refined Skylake derivatives. We see the uplift from the Zen 2 architecture clearly here in the 3600's results, but AMD's APUs aren't nearly as responsive due to their position on AMD's trailing-edge architecture and node.

Office and Productivity

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Microsoft's office suite runs via PCMark 10's new application test. This benchmark tests with real Microsoft Office applications. With the exception of the video conferencing workload, the Ryzen 3400G trails the less-expensive Core i3-9100 throughout the Office tests, leading to a lower overall score. 

The application start-up metric measures load time snappiness in word processors, GIMP, and Web browsers. Other platform-level considerations affect this test as well, including the storage subsystem. Intel's i3-9100 takes a big lead in this test, and once again, we see a big gap between second- and third-gen Ryzen. 

Overall, the Core i3-9100 is faster in the majority of workloads, and that's even after we overlocked the Ryzen 5 3400G. 

Compression, Decompression, Encryption, AVX

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Compressing and decompressing files is a common task, and here the 3400G's thread count provides an advantage over the Core i3-9100 in both the 7zip and Zlib benchmarks. These benchmarks rely heavily upon threading and work directly from system memory, thus avoiding the traditional storage bottleneck in these types of tasks. The core i5-9400F proves to be a more nimble opponent that snatches the lead in both Zlib and the 7zip compression tests. 

The heavily-threaded y-cruncher benchmark, which computes pi using the taxing AVX instruction set, finds the 3400G trailing by a significant margin in both the single- and multi-threaded tests. You'll need to step up to a third-gen Ryzen processor to beat Intel's performance in AVX-heavy workloads. 

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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.