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AMD Ryzen 9 3900 Review: a Taste of Eco Mode

Pre-built systems just took a big step forward.

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Web Browser

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Browsers tend to be impacted more by the recent security mitigations than other types of applications, so Intel has generally taken a haircut in these benchmarks of fully-patched systems, though that handicap doesn't stop Intel from sweeping the competition. 

The ARES-6 web browser benchmark focuses on forward neural networks used for machine learning tasks, along with overall browser responsiveness. As we see with the other Ryzen models, the automatic overclocking PBO feature, when left to its own devices, can result in ever-so-slightly less performance during workloads that are ultra-reliant upon single-threaded performance. AMD designed PBO to boost both single- and multi-threaded performance, but the former has sadly never come to fruition. Instead, we see improvements in heavily threaded workloads with the feature. 

The Ryzen 9 3900X delivers snappier performance than the 3900 across the board at both stock and overclocked settings. 

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. The Ryzen 3000 series processors are competitive in Excel, the Edge browser, and Word, offering similar performance to the Intel processors, but the blue team takes the overall win at both stock and overclocked settings. 

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. The Core processors lead by convincing margins, especially after overclocking, but adding a PCIe 4.0 SSD to our Ryzen test system would swing this benchmark in favor of the Ryzen 3000-series processors. 

Here the Ryzen 9 3900 edges out the tuned Ryzen 7 3700X, but again we see performance drop slightly after tuning in lightly-threaded workloads. We also see muted gains from overclocking in the heavily-threaded LLVM compile benchmark.

Rendering

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Rendering firmly remains Ryzen's stomping ground, and the Ryzen 9 3900 offers a great blend of performance and power consumption. The 3900's performance gains from tuning are much more pronounced in the threaded workloads, too. At both stock and tuned settings, the Ryzen 9 3900 offers solid performance for semi-professionals focused on content creation. 

You'll also notice the 3900 offers nearly the same (or better) performance compared to the stock Core i9-9900K during some threaded tasks, highlighting its excellent performance-per-watt metrics that come courtesy of the 7nm process. 

Encoding

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The Intel/Netflix-designed SVT-AV1 video encoder leverages Ryzen's threaded horsepower to great effect, giving the 3900 a strong lead, even within its reduced power envelope, over the Intel competitors. Flipping through to the single-threaded LAME encoder results reveal that Intel still holds the advantage with encoders that prize per-core performance. 

The HandBrake results are similarly encouraging for the 3900, with its lowered power consumption envelope delivering a big win in overall performance. 

Compression, Decompression, Encryption, AVX

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The 7zip and Zlib compression/decompression benchmarks rely heavily upon threading and work directly from system memory, thus avoiding the traditional storage bottleneck in these types of tasks. Ryzen dominates these tests without storage throughput restrictions, but you also have access to the PCIe 4.0 interface with AMD's X570 platform. That extra throughput means these tremendous gains will largely transfer over to real-world application performance when you pair the Ryzen chips with a speedy PCIe 4.0 SSD.  

The heavily-threaded y-cruncher benchmark, which computes pi using the taxing AVX instruction set, finds the Ryzen 9 3900 beating out the 3900X during the single-threaded test, but these results fall within our expectation for run-to-run performance variability. 

Encryption and decryption is firmly in favor of the AMD Ryzen 9 models as they sweep the AES and HASH benchmarks, though Intel's -9900K fires back with impressive SHA3-512 results. 

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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.