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AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Review: Core i7 Has a New Challenger

Boost Clocks, Overclocking, Thermals and Test Setup

We observed our Ryzen 7 3800X hit it's 4.5 GHz boost clock sporadically, but like the Core i9-9900K's elusive 5.0 GHz boost, those moments were brief. This tracks well with with the boost clock behavior we've seen with the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X. We're currently waiting for improved BIOS revisions and will update as necessary.

Manual Overclocking

We initially dialed in a 4.4 GHz overclock with the Ryzen 7 3800X with a relatively high 1.45V vCore, and while the configuration passed through our entire test suite, it couldn't pass through a new battery of AI tests we're preparing that uses various flavors of the AVX instruction set. As tantalizingly close as we came, we couldn't get the system 100% stable at 4.4 GHz, even with more intense voltages. We were pushing the limits of our Corsair H115i cooler, often running right at the maximum 95C specification of the processor, so we dialed our overclock back to 4.3 GHz for our testing.

Reaching 4.3 GHz was fairly straightforward: a 1.42 vCore paired with auto Load Line Calibration, uncorked power settings in the BIOS, and memory overclocked to DDR4-3600 with 14-14-14-36 timings proved rock solid throughout our full battery of stress and application tests. 

We recorded average temperatures of 80C, 81.64C, and 84.8C during extended x264 encoding, x265 encoding, and y-cruncher workloads, respectively. Our maximum peak temperature of 91C came during our y-cruncher test, but it registered for roughly one second. Overall, temperatures during our test tracked well with the average measurements.

Security Mitigations

The new AMD-optimized Windows scheduler is only present in Windows 10 1903 and promises to expose gains in several types of applications. As such, we updated our test image to the latest version of Windows 10 available (18362.207). All of our test results come from the aforementioned operating system and include all publicly available security mitigations and the latest motherboard firmware revisions. Intel is currently impacted by Spectre, Spectre v4, Meltdown, Foreshadow, Spectre v3a, Lazy FPU, Spoiler, and MDS, while AMD is only impacted by Spectre and Spectre v4. AMD has added hardware-based mitigations for both variants of Spectre, which should reduce the performance impact, but the requisite patches for both companies have performance penalties, which are reflected here in our testing.

A Note on Multi-Core Enhancement (MCE)

Intel's motherboard partners have infused their boards with predefined all-core boost profiles that go by many names, such as Multi-Core Enhancement (MCE) with ASUS motherboards and Enhanced Turbo with our MSI motherboard. These features are largely referred to as MCE, but the functionality remains the same: These settings essentially apply an all-core overclock to the processor that is defined by the maximum Turbo Boost bin supported by the processor. This setting modifies the CPU's clock rate and voltage to deliver higher performance, which is basically factory-sanctioned overclocking.

MSI turns this on by default in its BIOS, similar to most of its competition. Performance, power consumption, and heat are all affected, naturally. We manually disable this feature for our stock CPU testing to best reflect Intel's specifications. 

MSI MEG X570 Godlike

We're using MSI's MEG X570 Godlike as our test platform for the second- and third-gen AMD processors. Due to the compatibility matrix for the AM4 socket, we stepped back to the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC for the Ryzen 7 1800X.

The pricey Godlike board retails for around $800, but has the 14+4+1-phase power delivery subsystem to support aggressive overclocking.

The MEG X570 Godlike sits at the top of MSI's motherboard hierarchy. It also comes with a few nifty accessories like a 10Gb “Super LAN” Ethernet card and a PCIe Gen 4 Xpander-Z M.2 expansion card. That lets you add two more M.2 drives to complement the three M.2 PCIe Gen 4 M.2 ports on the board. You also get four PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, an RGB Mystic Light Infinity II mirror over the IO shroud, and a tiny OLED screen, alongside the two-digit LCD display for error codes.

Comparison Products

Test System & Configuration
HardwareAMD Socket AM4 (X570)AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, Ryzen 7 3800X, Ryzen 7 3700X, Ryzen 7 2700XMSI MEG X570 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill Flare DDR4-3200Ryzen 3000 - DDR4-3200, DDR4-3600Second-gen Ryzen - DDR4-2933, DDR4-3466Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900K, i7-9700KMSI MEG Z390 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466AMD Socket AM4 (X470)AMD Ryzen 7 1800XMSI X470 Gaming M7 AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933AMD Socket SP3 (TR4)Threadripper 2920XMSI MEG X399 Creation4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933Intel LGA 2066Intel Core i9-7920XMSI X299 XPower Gaming AC4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666All SystemsNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 2TB Intel DC4510 SSDEVGA Supernova 1600 T2, 1600WWindows 10 Pro (1903 - All Updates)
CoolingCorsair H115iCustom Loop, EKWB Supremacy EVO waterblock, Dual-720mm radiatorsAMD Wraith Prism Stock CoolerEnermax Liqtech 240 TR4 II


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