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Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 Review: Value Kings

PC Gaming on a Budget Just Got Better

Christopher Coke Updated: May 20, 2020 1:16 PM Posted: May 7, 2020 5:55 PM
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Looking to build a budget gaming PC? AMD may have just delivered the best option on the market today with the Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X processors. 4 cores and 8 threads, starting at $99. We put each of these CPUs through their paces to see how they stack up and if they’re worth your hard-earned dollars. This is our full review.

Specifications

Ryzen 3 3100
  • Current Price: $99
  • # of CPU Cores: 4
  • # of Threads: 8
  • Base Clock: 3.6GHz
  • Max Boost Clock: Up to 3.9GHz
  • Total L1 Cache: 256KB
  • Total L2 Cache: 2MB
  • Total L3 Cache: 16MB
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • CMOS: TSMC 7nm FinFET
  • Package: AM4
  • PCI Express® Version: PCIe 4.0
  • Thermal Solution (PIB): Wraith Stealth
  • Default TDP / TDP: 65W
  • System Memory: 3200MHz (DDR4)
  • Supported Technologies: 
    • Zen Core Architecture
    • AMD Ryzen™ Master Utility
    • AMD Ryzen™ VR-Ready Premium
Ryzen 3 3300X
  • Current Price: $120
  • # of CPU Cores: 4
  • # of Threads: 8
  • Base Clock: 3.8GHz
  • Max Boost Clock: Up to 4.3GHz
  • Total L1 Cache: 256KB
  • Total L2 Cache: 2MB
  • Total L3 Cache: 16MB
  • Unlocked: Yes
  • CMOS: TSMC 7nm FinFET
  • Package: AM4
  • PCI Express® Version: PCIe 4.0
  • Thermal Solution (PIB): Wraith Stealth
  • Default TDP / TDP: 65W
  • System Memory: 3200MHz (DDR4)
  • Supported Technologies: 
    • Zen Core Architecture
    • AMD Ryzen™ Master Utility
    • AMD Ryzen™ VR-Ready Premium

Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 Pictured

The pair of new Ryzen processors join the 3000 line-up at the bottom of the product stack. They’re also the first Zen 2 processors from the Ryzen 3 line we’ve seen so far. The earlier Ryzen G APUs (one of which I reviewed here) were built on earlier process nodes, so both the 3100 and 3300X essentially bring AMD's entry-level offerings “up with the times” and the 7nm process. 

Both CPUs feature quad-core, eight-thread designs. They both feature 16MB of L3 Cache, PCIe 4.0, and support DDR4 memory up to 3200MHz.  The 7nm fabrication process also allows them to be energy efficient, with a shared TDP of 65W. In fact, on the surface, it appears that the main difference between these CPUs is clock speed, with the 3100 featuring speeds of 3.9GHz base and 3.9GHZ boost. The 3300X, on the other hand, has a base clock speed of 3.8GHz and a boost of 4.2GHz. 

It gets a little more interesting under the hood. Ryzen processors typically feature multiple core complexes, or CCXs, which are connected by Infinity Fabric. This is why memory speed can play such an important role in the overall speed of a Ryzen CPU, because it’s directly related to the Infinity Fabric connecting each CCX. The Ryzen 3100 features a dual CCX design. The 3300X, on the other hand, features a single CCX. 

This single CCX design allows the CPU cores to be more efficient in their use of cache, which reduces latency and results in a real-world performance boost. As a result, AMD sees the R3 3300X as competing with Intel’s i5 CPUs instead of the expected Core i3s. For gamers, this makes the $20 premium for the 3300X that much more worthwhile, especially when compared to the competition — however, it’s worth bearing in mind that Intel’s i5 offerings feature additional cores, which should factor into your decision. 

B550 Chipset

The B550 Chipset: Affordable PCIe 4.0? 

Happily, both still support socket AM4, so technically you do not need to upgrade motherboards if you’re already using a B450 or higher. B450 and below are unable to utilize PCIe 4.0, however, so if you’d ever like to take advantage of super-fast PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSDs, you’ll need to upgrade. Since it’s unlikely anyone buying a $120 CPU will want to invest in a high-end X570 motherboard, I’m pleased to share that B550 is incoming and promises to bring those features to a much more affordable price point.

As of this writing, we haven’t been able to go hands-on with any of the upcoming boards to try them for ourselves. We’ll be taking a look as we get closer to release, which is coming up later this month.

B550 motherboards will also support AMD’s next-generation Ryzen processors (which are promised to still be on AM4), but adding that compatibility did require some trade-offs. To extend into the future, AMD had to cut down previous-gen compatibility. Zen 2 processors will not work with B550 motherboards, which includes Ryzen 1000 and 2000 desktop CPUs, as well as the 3200G and 3400G APUs.

Each chip will be widely available on May 21st while the B550 motherboards won’t be available until mid-June. The gap here is interesting and may leave consumers buying a CPU without a mainboard to put it in, especially should these processors sell in high volume. Since that’s still to be seen, I would recommend doing exactly that to be safe. 

Benchmark Results

AMD Test System: Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master Motherboard, Noctua DH15s, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply, Fresh Installation of Windows 10, updated as of 5/4/20.

Intel Test System: ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Motherboard, Noctua DH15s, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply, Fresh Installation of Windows 10, updated as of 5/5/20.

Intel Test System #2: ASUS Z370 Maximus X Hero Motherboard, Noctua DH15s, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Samsung 970 Pro NVMe 1TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply, Fresh Installation of Windows 10, updated as of 5/5/20.

Processing

Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 AIDA64

Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 Geekbench

Compression

Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 7-Zip

Rendering

Cinebench R20

Gaming

Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 Gaming Performance

Temperatures and Overclocking 

With such a reasonable TDP, each of these CPUs are thermally sound. I tested these CPUs using the Noctua DH15s.  I assessed the temperature with a run of Cinebench at the end of my round of benchmarks. The maximum recorded temperature was achieved at the end of my stress testing under Cinebench for both the 3300X and 3100. The 3300X peaked at 67C and the 3100 at 62C. These temperatures are very reasonable and would seem to lend a healthy amount of headroom to overclock and even more so if you were to swap out to an aftermarket air cooler or AIO.

Like I’ve observed with past Ryzen CPUs, however, overclock performance is limited — if you find it worthwhile at all. For me, the 3100 was the most troublesome. Pushing for an all-core overclock, I was only able to find stability at the 3.9GHz Boost Clock speed. Remember, however, that this is for all cores, so it still raises the performance bar. The 3300X was more capable and I was able to achieve a 4.4GHz overclock.

Is it worthwhile, though? If you’re looking to squeeze all of the performance you can out of your processor, certainly — assuming you have the AIO to back it up. If you’re running on the Stealth cooler, however, I would advise using caution as the temperatures begin ramping up quickly. 

Results Discussion and Final Thoughts

When AMD first shared the news about the 3100 and 3300X, I admit to being a bit disappointed that we weren’t talking about Ryzen 4000, which is expected later this year. As they introduced them and shared more information, I became compelled, and after testing them for myself, I’m downright excited. We have arrived at a time where a performant gaming CPU can be had for only $120. 

Don’t consider that a negative reflection on the $99 Ryzen 3 3100. Both are very capable processors, and if all you’re doing is gaming, both are perfectly suitable for a budget gaming rig. The 3300X offers enough of an uplift, however, that spending the extra $20 is a no-brainer. Looking purely at gaming performance, the 3300X offers an average 5.69% performance increase over the 3100, with several games achieving more than 10 extra FPS. Unless there is simply no way to save that additional $20, or if it simply becomes impossible to find, choosing the 3300X should be a foregone conclusion for most builder-gamers. 

Taking a closer look at the performance results, we can see that the 3300X trades blows with the i5-9600K (the i5 did retain a bit of a lead, however). Compared to the 3700X, which is more than double the price, the average FPS difference at 1080p was marginal with an overall average deficit of less than 4%. The difference between the 3300X and 9600K in gaming performance is just under 3%. 

Our sample size of games is limited, of course, so I would encourage you to read other reviews and really observe the differences for the games you would like to play.

The limitations of these processors enter the equation when looking at multi-threaded applications, which we can also extrapolate out. There, being limited to four cores versus the 6+ definitely has an impact. If you’re streaming or working in creative apps, these processors will work, but you may find yourself pushing the limit of what they’re capable of.

Ultimately, though, both of these processors are an incredible value. You’re getting performance that’s competitive with flagship gaming CPUs of triple the cost only a few short years ago. You’ll need a dedicated GPU, and will be stuck waiting on B550 if you plan to buy at launch, but the Ryzen 3 3100 and especially the Ryzen 3 3300X provide an excellent onramp to PC gaming.

The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

8.5Great
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Approaches i5-9600K performance
  • Excellent for gaming
  • Good thermal performance
Cons
  • No B550 motherboards at launch
  • Not the best for multi-tasking
  • No integrated graphics


GameByNight

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