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AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X Review: Zen 2 and 7nm Unleashed

First 7nm CPUs bring the power.


AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series represent yet another big step forward as the company leads the way with the first 7nm processors for the desktop PC and brings the first PCIe 4.0-enabled platform to market. The benefits of the 7nm process paired with the Zen 2 microarchitecture, and its big boost to IPC, manifest as a more power efficient platform with higher core counts than competing chips, and at a lower price per thread, which places both products but especially the 3700X among the best gaming CPUs you can get.

The Ryzen processors are extremely competitive in performance across the full span of our gaming and application test suites, notching impressive wins in heavily-threaded applications and significantly narrowing the gap in the lightly-threaded applications that Intel has traditionally dominated. To put things in perspective, consider that the overclocked Ryzen 7 2700X rarely matched the stock performance of the Ryzen 7 3700X.

Intel still holds the absolute performance crown in gaming, but much of that performance advantage will be less noticeable when gaming at higher resolutions, or if you pair the processors with a lesser graphics card.

AMD is also taking the leadership position by delivering the first PCIe 4.0-enabled platform for the desktop PC, a role that we would typically expect the market leader to fill. Unfortunately the faster interface does result in higher-priced X570 motherboards, but AMD has wisely encouraged its partners to continue to offer X470 motherboards, which are cheap and plentiful. You'll lose access to the PCIe 4.0 interface in exchange for lower pricing, but you'll also have a compelling upgrade path in the future.

AMD continues to offer as much backward compatibility as it can given its expanding portfolio, earning kudos from the enthusiast community, and is also staying true to its standard value proposition of offering more for less. Both the Ryzen 9 3900X and the Ryzen 7 3700X come with a beefy bundled Wraith Prism cooler that can even provide a bit of overclocking headroom, too.

AMD also continues to offer fully unlocked processors for all models and allows overclocking on value-centric motherboards, which has long been a sore point for enthusiasts that have to pay a premium for access to Intel's overclocking features. AMD is even expanding on that with the introduction of Precision Boost Overdrive and AutoOC features that bring overclocking to mainstream users through a few clicks in its easy-to-use Ryzen Master utility. Intel has responded in kind with its Intel Performance Maximizer, but that software is only compatible with the company's pricey 9th-Generation processors. That said, Intel obviously still holds the overclocking crown, but that's becoming less of an advantage in the face of processors that come with up to twice the cores.

The Ryzen 9 3900X redefines our expectations for the mainstream desktop with a beastly 12-cores and 24-threads and represents a great value if you're seeking a well-rounded performer. The extra cores and threads will pay big dividends in productivity applications, and the solid performance in more common lightly-threaded applications is more than enough for most users.

The Ryzen 7 3700X slots in as the more accessible counterpart that will appease the vast majority of customers, and it also comes with the many of the same attractions of the previous-gen model, except it is faster and consumes less power. If you're looking for the best value on the market, the Ryzen 7 3700X is your chip.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

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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.