AMD Ryzen 5 3500X Review: China Gets a CPU Exclusive

The China-only AMD Ryzen 3500X packs a punch.

AMD Ryzen 5 3500X
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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The AMD Ryzen 3500X stands as the lone Ryzen 3000-series processor to come without threading, but the tradeoffs associated with that distinction are clear. We measured higher performance in many of our gaming benchmarks, but performance will vary based upon the game, so it can also result in lower performance in some titles. 

While disabling threading isn't a panacea that boosts performance in all games, it does have a universal impact on performance in threaded workloads. As we have seen throughout our test suite, the AMD Ryzen 3500X's disabled threading feature resulted in substantially lower performance in threaded applications compared to other 3000-series Ryzen processors.  

Threading plays to the strengths of AMD's Zen architecture and has cemented the Ryzen 3000 series as the apex predator in desktop PCs for threaded workloads, like productivity and creation applications. Still, there's a long list of pros and cons associated with disabling the feature. AMD obviously took that complicated matrix into account when it decided to enable the feature on all of its retail chips, instead assuring the best mix of performance for the broadest cross-section of the market. The company is also renowned for not skimping on features in the name of segmentation, earning praise from enthusiasts and casual users alike, which it likely took into consideration when building out its product stack.  

The Zen microarchitecture does leave plenty of room for customizations, though, and the pared-back model makes sense for high-volume customers in the OEM and system integrator markets. AMD has struggled to gain as much traction in this market as it has in DIY circles, largely due to a lack of integrated graphics on its models that come with more than four cores. 

While OEM systems without a discrete graphics card make up the bulk of the market, Intel's newfound practice of selling graphics-less F-series models to increase its output creates a rare opening for AMD to gain some penetration. That comes as a faster, but slightly pared-back model with a lower price point than the 9400F. And make no mistake, despite what we see in the grey market, AMD is almost certainly significantly undercutting the 9400F's pricing in volume sales.

AMD accomplished that goal; the Ryzen 5 3500X beats the Core i5-9400F in nearly all of our tests in both gaming and productivity applications. However, while this low-cost chip with superior performance makes sense for the target market, it isn't as good of a fit for the retail side. Especially in light of AMD's looming Ryzen 3 launch.

In either case, you can score the AMD Ryzen 3500X through various resellers for pricing that fluctuates wildly between $190 to $240. The 3500X ships from Asia, so be prepared to spend some extra cash on shipping, too. The AMD Ryzen 3500X would make a nice pairing with a previous-gen B-series motherboard, but you'll lose support for PCIe 4.0 in exchange. AMD is on the cusp of releasing its B460 lineup of motherboards, but the new AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 both arrive with that launch, too. If you're looking for a value chip, the new Ryzen 3 CPUs look like the processors to beat.  

Overall, the Ryzen 5 3500X is a solid chip that's certainly interesting and would be a nice addition for a collector. Still, enthusiasts should stick with AMD's retail models for the best mix of price and performance. 


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Benchmark Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

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

  • refillable
    We have plenty of these in Indonesia, but I'd pass this for a 2600 or 1600AF. They're a bit cheaper and have more threads that would be useful once games starts to be optimized for 8C/16T CPUs.
  • gfg
    2016 and AMD looked like they had the coffin bought .... but 2017 came and Ryzen appeared:
    Newly announced Ryzen 3 3100X and 3300X are worth $ D99 and $ D120 very comparable to a two-year-old Core i7 7700 that were worth 3-4 times more.
    Ryzen 9 3950X 16/32 cores / threads from U $ DS750 which is the High End on desktop PC ... broke the floor to U $ D2000 processors from Intel professional workstations.
    Thread Ripper 3990X 64 cores / 128 threads and 288 MB of total cache, forced Intel to completely surrender the crown of professional workstations, it seems Japan defeated in the second world war by the US in this sector, it has nothing at all to compete at this level against AMD.
    Ryzen Mobile 4000: Ryzen 4900HS 8 cores / 16 threads 35W, integrated igpu comparable in power to a Geforce MX250, is in notebook in the price range of U $ D1400 and is equated with the Intel 10980HK 8/16 core CPU / 45W wires and comparable remaining specifications where the price far exceeds U $ D2500 ... * Intel PCI-E 4.0 vs 3.0 in the entire range of PCs and more connection lines in each product range vs. Intel.
    On the server side, Epyc is an excellent processor with a top of the range of 64/128 cores and 128 PCI-E 4.0 lines, although it is difficult to overcome the root part of Intel in this regard. Still, AMD already has contracts for the world's fastest supercomputers where EL Capitan with a theoretical maximum capacity of 2.0 Exaflops and Frontier of 1.5 Exaflops outperforms all other Supercomputer projects. Intel has Aurora programmed for "only" 1.0 Exaflop, meaning "1 Exaflop" for "1 million Teraflops". In no case is Nvidia part of this panorama and at the moment it does not have new contracts of this scale in the future, although it is currently the leader in most of the top500. * And there are new Ryzen 3 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU architectures out by the end of the year, the future looks bright if things get right, and Intel continues on the current timeline.
    And finally out of the PC world, next-gen consoles have comparable specs to a Ryzen 7 3700 and Radeon 5700XT with slightly lower clocks, an improvement especially in CPUs that was heavily needed to upgrade the graphics-quality floor to current game titles, by the fact of sharing PC and Console platforms and the console has always limited PCs in recent years. I summarize ... Thanks AMD !, Thanks Advanced Micro Device !!!
  • Zarax
    What would be extremely interesting is a review of how AMD HEDT chips fare in gaming with SMT disabled.
    It was done for the 2000 series and it would be interesting to repeat the test for the 3000 too.
  • RodroX
    Nice review, too bad the price is soo high. I guess for an all around office PC it will be a very powerfull chip, but thats it. If the price was around U$100, it could be a nice budget CPU for some games.

    I feel both the Ryzen 5 3500X and the Core i3 9350KF are kinda pointless. The first is too expensive and the lack of HT turn it sorta useless against the Ryzen 5 1600AF and 2600, heck for the same price you could get a Ryzen 5 3600. The second it only make sense if you are going to OC and for that you need to dish out a lot of cash for high end motherboard, so you are better off getting a budget B450 mobo and a higher core and threads Ryzen CPU.
  • hennes
    "Intel Core i5-9400F review, that CPU ticks at a 2.9 GHz base clock and . But "

    Half sentence?

    " the AMD Ryzen 5 3500X handles just like any other Ryzen 300 chip. "

    Otherwise a fun read :)
  • panathas
    The B460 is a new upcoming INTEL chipset and not an AMD one. The correct AMD chipset is the B450 or the new B550.
  • mdd1963
    With the rather noted (and surprisingly high,IMO) placing of the 9350K here, it's almost like someone went out of their way to find the last 5-6 semi-popular games that still did quite well on 4 threads, even at 1% lows...and used just those. :)