AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs are some of the best processors on the market. The gaming performance is especially a notch above the older Zen+ based Ryzen 2000 chips. However, from our testing, we’ve noticed that north of the hex-core R5 3600X, the scaling in games drops significantly. In this post, we’ll test the Ryzen 7 3700X and the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X across ten titles and see if the latter is really worth your money if you’re gamer.
We’ll stick our 10-game benchmark suite consisting of the following titles:
- Deus Ex: MD
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- The Division 2
- AC: Origins
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Metro Exodus
- Ashes: Escalation
- Hitman 2
- Borderlands 3
All the games were tested at the highest in-game graphics preset unless otherwise specified.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
- Motherboard: ASRock X570 Taichi
- Memory: Trident Z Royal 8GB x 2 @ 3600 MHz
- HDD: WD Black 4TB
- PSU: Corsair HX1000i
The average frame rates in a game give a relative measure of overall performance. They don’t account for the lags or FPS drops (if any) and as such can be misleading at times. 90th 95th and 99th percentile are used in tandem with the averages to make up for that shortcoming. The higher their values, the better the overall performance:
- Average: This represents the average frame rate through the benchmark run.
- Min: The lowest FPS drop through the benchmark run.
- 90th percentile: 10 frames out of 100 are slower than this frame rate. 90% of the frames will achieve at least this frame rate.
- 95th percentile: 5 frames out of 100 are slower than this frame rate. 95% of the frames will achieve at least this frame rate.
- 99th percentile: 1 frame out of 100 is slower than this frame rate. 99% of the frames will achieve at least this frame rate.
Ryzen 7 3700X vs Ryzen 9 3900X: Gaming Performance
Although the Ryzen 9 is slightly faster on average (~5%), in Ashes Escalation, the Ryzen 7 3700X manages to topple it across both the averages and the lows.
The same trend continues through the rest of the benchmarks with most titles benefitting from the higher boost clock of the 3900X but a few namely Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Hitman 2 just don’t scale well with the 12-core behemoth and prefer the octa-core 3700X over it.
Sustained Frame Rates at 1080p Ultra
Metro Exodus sees the Ryzen 9 3900X perform almost identical to the 3700X but manages better lows than the latter. However, Borderlands 3 is another story altogether. Here, ignoring a few extra drops on the 3700X, there’s absolutely no difference between the two CPUs. In fact, the Ryzen 7 part gets many spikes into the 100+ FPS zone which the 3900Xmisses out on.
CPU Core Clock Scaling: Ryzen 9 3900X
The clock scaling of the 3900X is a bit of a mess. All those twelve cores battling it out to hit 4.6GHz. Alas, like most 3rd Gen Ryzen chips none of them make it. This can be explained on the basis of Precision Boost 2 that all Ryzen CPUs leverage for clock scaling.
Basically, the power, temperature, and voltages prevent the CPU from reaching the rated boost clocks. You need absolutely need a liquid cooler for the Ryzen 9 3900X to get the best performance.
The power draw of the 3900X is also quite surprising. This CPU has a TDP ceiling of 105W and yet in most games, it doesn’t even hit the 50W mark. This seems like more of a utilization issue than a thermal or power limit. Still, just tells you just how efficient AMD’s 7nm Ryzen 3000 CPUs are. In comparison, Intel’s Coffee Lake parts draw well over 100W.
Overall, this may seem like a disappointing result. But let’s back up a bit and analyze the situation. The performance is more or less on par with the Ryzen 7 3700X. But so is the power consumption and temperature. This means that in most games we’re running into a utilization limit. Most titles top out at 8 physical, making the Ryzen 7 3700X the top-end CPU for gamers. If fact, in my experience it’s the 3600X is the sweet spot. In most titles, it performs on par or better than both the Core i5-9600X as well as the Ryzen 7 3700X, costing less than both. At the moment, you can grab one for just $200 from Newegg (Happy Holidays folks!)