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AMD Ryzen 5 3600X and 3400G CPU/APU Review

By Christopher Coke on August 02, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X and 3400G CPU/APU Review

AMD has disrupted the market. With the launch of their Ryzen 3000 series, AMD is finally giving Intel a run for their money, and the CPU industry is more exciting than it’s been in years. When I reviewed the Ryzen 3700X and 3900X last month, I found them to be some of the best-value CPUs you could buy. But what about gamers who fall more toward the middle of the market or only want to do some light gaming? AMD has an answer and that’s what we’re out to investigate today. This is our review of the Ryzen 3600X CPU and Ryzen 3400G APU.


Ryzen 5 3600X

  • Current Price: $249.99
  • Number  of CPU Cores: 6
  • Number  of Threads: 12
  • Base Clock: 3.8GHz
  • Max Boost Clock: 4.4GHz
  • Total L2 Cache: 3MB
  • Total L3 Cache: 32MB
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • CMOS: TSMC 7nm FinFET
  • Package: AM4
  • PCI Express Version: PCIe 4.0 x16
  • Thermal Solution: Wraith Spire
  • Default TDP / TDP: 95W

Ryzen 5 3400G with Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics

  • Current Price: $149.99
  • Number  of CPU Cores: 4
  • Number  of Threads: 8
  • Number  of GPU Cores: 11
  • Base Clock: 3.7GHz
  • Max Boost Clock: 4.2GHz
  • Total L1 Cache: 384KB
  • Total L2 Cache: 2MB
  • Total L3 Cache: 4MB
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • CMOS: 12nm FinFET
  • Package: AM4
  • PCI Express® Version: PCIe 3.0 x8
  • Graphics Model: Radeon™ RX Vega 11 Graphics
  • Graphics Frequency: 1400 MHz
  • Graphics Core Count: 11
  • Thermal Solution: Wraith Spire
  • Default TDP / TDP: 65W
  • cTDP: 45-65W
  • Max Temps: 95°C

The biggest news out of last month was easily the launch of AMD’s Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 processors. Coming in at 8-cores and 12-cores respectively, the CPUs were nothing short of powerhouses, going head to head with Intel in gaming performance and vastly outperforming them when multitasking or engaging in any kind of creative work. AMD themselves acknowledged, though, that there’s a sweet spot for gamers that falls below the price point of either of those processors. If the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X are for the enthusiasts, what’s left for the mainstream gamer and what kind of sacrifices are they looking at?

As such, I was particularly excited to get the chance to see for myself. Thinking back to before I began covering hardware, it’s very likely I would the exact kind of consumer looking at that next step down from the highest of the high-end. In that bracket, it’s a mindset of practicality; what will you actually be doing, how much will one feature over another actually benefit you in the real world? After all, if you’re a core gamer and don’t ever stream or create your own content, do you really need 24 threads of performance? Probably not and if you’re anything like me, you’re also want to find the best deal you possibly can. In that context, the Ryzen 5 line has a special appeal.

The processors are quite different and fill different needs in the market, so let’s look at each on their own.

Ryzen 5 3600X

The Ryzen 5 3600X is a 6-core/12-thread CPU with a base frequency of 3.8GHz and a boost clock of 4.4GHz. This puts it in direct competition with the i7-8700K and i7-9600K, though on paper and price point offers clear advantages. Compared to the 8700K, it’s a clear $100 cheaper while offering 32MB of L3 cache compared to the 12MB offered by Intel. Against the 9600K, the R5 3600X is $5 more expensive as of this writing but the 9600K doesn’t feature hyperthreading, so it’s 6-cores/6-threads, so at a distinct disadvantage for multitasking performance. Likewise, the 9600K only offers 9MB of L3 cache.

Why is this important? A processor’s cache is essentially it’s “quick access” information. The larger the cache, the more frequently used data it has accessible. Think of it a bit like DRAM for your PC. The more your CPU can hold in its “memory” the faster it’s able to process tasks. This is a simplification, of course, but gets at the heart of a key advantage the R5 3600X is bringing to the table and that should be weighed against the slight loss in boost clock speeds.

Despite being a more mainstream CPU, it follows AMD’s trend of delivering more cores and threads for the cost. With 6-cores and 12-threads, I found it to be a great fit for gaming, streaming, and even video editing. The video I capture comes in at 4K, 100MBs. With 32GB of RAM, editing is a breeze.

The 3600X is also built on AMD’s Zen2 architecture, which means it has all of the benefits you’ve been reading about since the launch of Ryzen 3000 last month. It offers support for PCI-Express 4.0 and the added 15% IPC over Ryzen 2000. Likewise, you’ll be able to enjoy the added power efficiency of the 7nm fabrication process.

Put another way, the Ryzen 5 3600X is an extremely good processor for the money and should more than satisfy the demands of mainstream and enthusiast gamers.

Ryzen 5 3400G with Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics

The Ryzen 5 3400G targets a different market entirely. Rather than follow the usual trend of requiring users to buy a dedicated graphics card, the R5 3400G features integrated Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics. This pushes the 3400G from being a CPU to an APU, or Accelerated Processing Unit. APUs are excellent for PC builders who may only be casual gamers and don’t want to invest in a costly separate GPU.

If you’re new to the world of APUs or haven’t investigated them in some time, the idea of using integrated graphics might seem unappealing. I too remember the days of using integrated graphics on laptops and finding out that even vanilla World of Warcraft couldn’t break 10 FPS. Because the R5 3400G uses RX Vega 11, however, it’s able to deliver much better performance than I personally expected. At the same time, it’s an “all in one” solution that could also be a perfect fit for small form factor PCs, home theaters, and systems where high-powered graphics just aren’t needed. You shouldn’t go in expecting Radeon RX 5700 performance we’re well beyond the time when integrated graphics meant you couldn’t game at all.

The Ryzen 5 3400G comes to market for $149 and offers 4-core and 8-threads of performance. It runs at a Base Clock speed of 3.7GHz and is able to achieve boost speed of 4.2GHz. It’s closest competitor is the Intel i5-9400F which has a current MSRP of $182 but can be found on Amazon for $144.99. Between the two, the 3400G offers an additional two threads of performance but the 9400F offers a total of six true cores and an additional 5MB of L3 cache over the 3400G’s 5MB.

As you can tell, it’s a much closer race here, so let’s waste no time and get right into the benchmark results.

Benchmark Results

Test System: Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master Motherboard, AMD Ryzen 5 3600X/3400G, NZXT Kraken X72 AIO Cooler, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply.

Processing

Compression

Rendering

Gaming Benchmarks

Results Discussion

Starting with the processing benchmarks of the 3600X, I’m extremely impressed. It goes blow for blow with the i7-8700K in virtually every benchmark I ran. There are points where it’s even competitive with the i9-9900K, which was a pleasant surprise, though the clock and core count advantage gives Intel’s flagship the edge. Compared to the other Ryzen chips in this comparison, it falls expectedly toward the bottom of the round-up, though that should come as no surprise given its placement in the stack.

The 3400G, on the other hand, holds that bottom place, though you’d be mistaken for assuming the CPU is a slouch. While these benchmarks are great for synthetic comparisons, they do remove some of the common sense behind a CPU purchase. A consumer likely to buy a 3400G is unlikely to be rendering large amounts of video, for example. As an “all-in-one” CPU, it feel just about where I would have expected it to.

That said, given that MMORPG has only begun a dedicated hardware wing over the last three years and we’ve been in a building up process, we do lack some key comparisons against the Ryzen 5 2400G and Intel 9400F. I would be very curious to test these results for myself, though some Google sleuthery quickly reveals that, on average, you can expect very similar results from all three CPUs with leading edges across different tests. We would encourage all users to read the reviews of our peers in the wider tech press before committing to a purchase, though it’s certainly fair to say that you can easily drive a general-purpose Windows 10 machine with the Ryzen 5 3400G without a need to look into a separate GPU.

One thing I did want to test was how the 3400G would hold its own in gaming scenarios. I chose a selection of common eSports games since a) they’re extremely popular and b) they tend to be easy to run. If you’re a college student on a budget, will the R5 3400G let you play DOTA 2 with your friends?

That answer is a clear and definitive YES. I conducted these tests at 1080p resolution with a mix of graphics settings as noted above. Doing so, I was able to achieve a playable framerate on each. Dropping the resolution to 720p easily pushes these frame rates above 60 FPS. You’ll sacrifice some visual fidelity in games like APEX: Legends and PUBG, but others, like Overwatch, are fully playable at High settings. From an APU, I was surprised and quite impressed.

Final Thoughts

Both of these CPUs offer unique benefits to gamers on a budget. Walking away, however, I am most impressed by the 3600X. For the cost of $249, it’s remarkably good and punches above its class. I went in expecting to make some major sacrifices to gaming, streaming, and multitasking and found I didn’t need to make any. This is the AMD I love and the AMD the hardware market needs, encapsulated in one single CPU.

The 3400G, admittedly, is made for a segment I’m not part of. That said, as I’m sure is the case for many of you, I often fall into the role of tech advisor and system builder for my friends and family. A lot of new builders, younger builders, or those with a very tight budget will find a lot of value here. It’s a tighter market against the competition but its performance in games like Overwatch and Fortnite really earns it points gamers who fall into those categories.

The Ryzen 5 3600X and 3400G are both winning processors. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either to each category of gamer.

The products discussed in this article were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.


Christopher Coke / Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight