Boostgate: AMD’s Boost Clock Controversy

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AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series CPU’s have been making waves among enthusiasts and reviewers for several weeks now. The Ryzen 3000 series offers outstanding performance at each of Intel’s formerly established price points. Price points that AMD could only dream of competing in until recently. While the Ryzen 1000 and 2000 series CPU’s were solid offerings, they came with a number of drawbacks in certain applications which prevented them from finding enough success to seriously challenge Intel in the mainstream desktop arena.

To learn more about the Ryzen 3000 series check out our review of the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. We also have a Ryzen 9 3900X CPU Re-Test with new BIOS that was released post-launch. You can also check out our unique editorial about Socket AM4 BIOS sizes.

Intel’s Reaction

Intel has reacted to the Ryzen 1000 and 2000 series by keeping pace with increased core counts which seemed to do the job. However, at present AMD is ahead on core counts and matches Intel’s Coffee Lake in terms of IPC. Intel has had to slash prices on many of its upper-echelon models in its mainstream segment. To say nothing of the trouncing Intel is receiving in the HEDT arena, where AMD has been competing very well since it introduced the first Threadripper CPU’s. Hardware forums are bristling with threads from enthusiasts building new Ryzen 3000 machines at every price point. On the surface, everything would seem to be going AMD’s way. Or is it?

It’s all about the Boost

Despite the rave reviews and positive user feedback, AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 series has a problem. Many, if not most users are unable to achieve the maximum boost clocks AMD advertised. Some users are screaming for class-action lawsuits and other legal action. Many allege AMD’s advertised specifications are false and that AMD has failed to deliver on its promises. I struggled with whether to tackle the topic now as AMD has promised a BIOS fix which should theoretically address this issue. However, I wanted to toss my opinions into the ring while it was still fresh in my mind. As many of you are aware, I just finished reviewing AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X. I had the rare opportunity to do some testing with more than one example of the CPU which led to some interesting results.

The boost clock topic begs the question: Has AMD really messed up here? Or is this simply a matter of perception by people who don’t understand these products and are overreacting, because that’s what everyone seems to do these days? In our initial AMD Ryzen 9 3900X review, our AMD provided review sample failed to achieve its advertised boost clocks on our MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE motherboard using its initial BIOS. Version 1.2 and 1.3 contained a newer AGESA code version which did increase our boost clocks on this motherboard. On the surface, this would seem like a firmware issue that should get better over time. However, I am not convinced AMD would have addressed this were it not for the very vocal enthusiast community complaining about the inconsistent behavior of these CPU’s.

Effectively, there are two major camps on this issue. On one side you have people who act like AMD can do no wrong who say things like: Your CPU performs fine, shut up and quit complaining.” On the other side of the fence, you have the group that acts like AMD should be sued for false advertising and strung up for daring to make a CPU that works differently than the expected norm of the past.

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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