AMD changed the competitive landscape for PC processors in 2017 with the launch of its first generation of Ryzen processors based on the company’s Zen processor architecture. The company continues to deliver with the third generation of Ryzen processors and a new generation of Radeon GPU’s based on the Navi architecture. The new AMD PC processors are competitive with Intel at every level and the new GPU’s add renewed competition with Nvidia in the gaming market.
Tirias Research was given the opportunity to evaluate the new products in a system configured with the Ryzen 3900X processor, 16MB of memory, and the Radeon RX 5700 XT GPU. The system is not only amazing in performance, it is aesthetically pleasing with LEDs in the fans and memory (an option when buying or building a PC), and pleasant to use with a very low noise level, only 42db to 46db in our tests, about the same as a whisper or ambient noise from other household appliances. The low noise is due to a combination of the chassis fans, the Wraith Prism CPU fan designed by AMD, and the use of a single fan on the GPU card. However, even with its stylish design, questions always arise about the notch in the Radeon graphics card cover, which is a purposeful design element, not the result of being dropped. As configured, the system could be purchased for about $2250 or built for a few hundred less. More memory increases the system price dramatically.
Our tests confirmed what the published industry benchmarks have reported. In terms of overall system performance, it’s a killer in all but the most extreme systems using Xeon processors or the Core i9980EX (essentially a server processor) and Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti GPUs that can cost 2-3 times more than the AMD system. AMD’s Ryzen processor performance is on par or just a few percentage points lower in single threaded benchmarks against Intel and up to 20% higher in multi-threaded performance than competitively priced Intel processors. The GPU performance for the new RTX 5700 and 5700 XT offers slightly higher performance on a few games and slightly lower on others than the new Nvidia GeForce 2060 Super and 2070 Super cards. In general, the gaming performance of the competing AMD and NVIDIA cards are essentially on par, but with the lower AMD prices, the Radeon cards offer a bit more value per performance. For higher gaming and graphics performance, the Ryzen processors can be paired with the higher end Nvidia GeForce cards like the RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2080 Ti, which many gaming PC OEMs are offering for a price premium.
With up to 16 cores and 32 threads and 72 MB of gaming (L3) cache (12 cores, 24 threads, and 64 MB of gaming cache as tested), the new Ryzen processors offer industry leading performance at every level of the PC value chain. The AMD processors can also leverage PCIe Gen 4 for higher system level performance; Intel processors are still using PCIe Gen 3. In terms of GPU’s, AMD offers competitive solutions for consumers and most gaming. As a result of the increased competition, there is a renewed race to increase performance and features, while prices are decreasing.
Both Intel and Nvidia reacted to AMD’s new products with new products of their own and/or price reductions. As of right now, AMD holds the advantage in terms of process technology with both the processor and GPUs being manufactured on 7nm. Intel is moving to 10nm and Nvidia is currently on 12nm. This may provide AMD a little more room in the emerging price wars. In addition, AMD should have the performance, power, and price advantage for mobile PCs, especially when it releases a new generation of APUs (processors with integrated graphics). With the new processors and GPUs already available, Tirias Research is predicting new APUs shipping by early 2020.
Just a few years ago, the common message was it doesn’t matter what processor you purchase, just get a good graphics card and as much memory and storage as you can afford. Times have changed and it is worth evaluating a system based on all the components again, especially if you are one of the millions of gamers.