AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU Review

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AMD’s 3rd generation Ryzen CPU’s are nothing short of spectacular. The price and performance generally speaks for itself. AMD has a clear lead in multi-threaded and content creation workloads. The Ryzen 9 3900X is an absolute beast and unless you need more memory bandwidth and PCIe lanes than a Ryzen 9 3900X/X570 setup can provide, it’s a better option than an entry level Threadripper like the 2920X. That was the only other CPU in our testing that matched the Ryzen 9 3900X for core and thread count. While the 2920X can match the clocks of the Ryzen 2700X and even comes close to the 3900X in an “all core” overclock, it fails to come close to the same level of performance in most tests. In single threaded workloads, the Ryzen 9 3900X absolutely demolishes AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X. Given the architectural changes and boost clock improvements, this is no surprise.

Where things get more interesting is when you compare the Ryzen 9 3900X to Intel’s Core i9 9900K. I think that’s the match up most people were interested in seeing. One thing is clear, for gaming performance and many single-threaded applications, the 9900K is still a beast that holds its own. When you get into content creation and multithreaded applications it gets crushed by the Ryzen 9 3900X. Simply put, the Ryzen 9 3900X is the better CPU by most standards. It absolutely excels in a performance per watt comparison and for the most part matches or exceeds the performance of Intel’s highest end mainstream offering. Where the Ryzen 9 3900X falters slightly is in regard to gaming performance. However, like the Ryzen’s that came before it, I don’t think this really matters. Outside of competitive gaming, any Ryzen is “good enough” for 1080P gaming. The differences are largely academic outside of competitive gaming or trying to use a 240Hz monitor or something like that.

While not tested here explicitly, when you get into 1440P and 2160P gaming, the GPU becomes far more important than your CPU. As a result, I’d consider the gaming performance of the Ryzen 9 3900X to be sufficient. If you want to build a pure gaming rig, then you might still want to look towards Intel’s Core i9 9900K. The Intel Core i9 9900K still remains the best gaming processor on the planet at any resolution. However, if you do anything else with your PC, then AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X makes more sense. X570 is an interesting platform and motherboard reviews on our test boards are inbound. The price point of most X570 motherboards are a hard pill to swallow, but there are plenty of excellent X470 motherboards that can be had at a variety of affordable price points that should pair nicely with a Ryzen 9 3900X or other Ryzen 3000 series processor. The only addendum I’d make regarding choosing a processor and gaming centers around streaming while gaming. I think it’s clear that AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X has a potential advantage in streaming while playing games. The Ryzen 9 3900X has many more cores and threads to work with than its competition.

What AMD has done here has been innovative and Impressive. AMD built on Zen’s foundation and improved on it in virtually every way. AMD specifically acknowledged all of Ryzen’s weaknesses and addressed them all point by point until they reached a reasonable solution for each item. With all that said, I can’t help but wonder what the CPU landscape would look like if Intel hadn’t dropped the ball on 10nm. Its apathy over the last few years has left a window of opportunity that AMD has seized. We saw a similar situation back in the early 2000’s where AMD’s Athlon 64 wiped the floor with the Pentium 4 in most instances. Fortunately, what might have been doesn’t matter here and I don’t want to try and take away from what AMD has achieved with it’s Zen 2 architecture. The last two years have certainly been the most exciting I’ve seen on the CPU front in the last ten years. If AMD can keep this momentum going, Intel will have a tougher time going forward.

In short, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is an amazing processor that lives up to the hype. It’s faster at multi-threaded workloads and close enough at any single-threaded applications. It costs the same as Intel’s Core i9 9900K, but, gives you more bang for your buck. It’s more efficient per watt and between the two, I’d probably opt for the Ryzen 9 3900X every time. Personally, I’m waiting on the 16c/32t model before I make the jump, but for $500 the 3900X can’t be beat. In the near future we will be looking at additional processors in the lineup as well as further investigating Ryzen performance with higher memory frequencies and overclocking. While my sample was limited to 4.3GHz, I believe 4.4GHz or 4.5GHz is possible with enough time and tweaking. We shall see.

Regardless, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is an incredible piece of hardware and an incredible value in its price point. Simply put, I think it’s the best processor you can buy for the desktop right now even with Zen 2 being a little weaker in some games at 1080P.


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Dan Dobrowolski
Dan has been writing motherboard reviews for the past 15 years, with the first decade or so writing for [H}ard|OCP. Dan brings his depth of knowledge about motherboards and their components to his reviews here at The FPS Review to help you select the best one for your needs.

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