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AMD Ryzen 7 3700X review: Core i9 performance for less

James Archer
9 Aug 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

£300 might not sound like amazing value, but by outperforming more expensive Intel chips, the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X has made itself essential

Pros 
Incredible performance
Cheaper than Intel equivalents
Power-efficient design
Cons 
Higher temperatures than the second-gen Ryzens
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The third generation of AMD Ryzen chips has arrived, and for the first time, the top Ryzen 7 processor isn’t also the top of the whole pile. While the Ryzen 7 3700X is a significant upgrade on the 2nd-gen Ryzen 7 2700X in performance terms, it’s the all-new Ryzen 9 3900X that leads the way.

The latter could be seen as a response to Intel’s Core i9-9900K: a CPU that can adeptly handle mainstream tasks like gaming, streaming and everyday multitasking while also having the muscle for enthusiast-grade video editing and encoding. But where does that leave what was formerly AMD’s flagship chip?

In a price/performance sweet spot, as it happens. Both the Core i9-9900K and Ryzen 9 3900X are priced around the £500 mark, so if it delivers high-end performance, the £300 Ryzen 7 3700X could still be the CPU most of us should buy.

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AMD Ryzen 7 3700X review: What you need to know

The Ryzen 7 3700X uses eight physical cores and 16 total threads, with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a maximum boost clock speed of 4.4GHz. That includes gains from Precision Boost and Extended Frequency Range (XFR), so you’ll need to ensure it’s well-cooled to squeeze every last megahertz of boost speed out of it.

This might make the Ryzen 7 3700X look like a losing choice next to the Ryzen 9 3900X, which has 12 cores, 24 threads and boost clock speeds up to 4.4GHz, but there’s still a lot to be excited about. Like the rest of the 3rd-gen Ryzen range, the Ryzen 7 3700X chip is one of the first 7nm desktop processors, theoretically allowing for much greater efficiency. And it’ll need it; while the maximum boost speed is an improvement on the Ryzen 7 2700X’s 4.3GHz, the base clock speed has actually dropped from 3.7GHz. AMD will therefore be relying on the 7nm architecture to get more done in each cycle than in the 12nm process used by the Ryzen 7 2700X.

I’ve tested the Ryzen 7 3700X with the aid of two pre-built PCs, the CCL Paladin and the Chillblast Fusion Axion, both of which use 16GB of DDR4 RAM, up-to-date AMD X570 motherboards and all-in-one watercoolers instead of basic air coolers. Performance in our 4K CPU benchmarks should be very similar, but for clarity, the scores you’re about to read are averages between the two systems.

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X review: Performance 

£300 might not be outrageous money for a CPU, but it’ll still a fair chunk of change, and for it you should expect high speeds across the board. The good news is that the Ryzen 7 3700X achieves this with ease.

For starters, it scored an average of 191 in the image editing test, thrashing its immediate predecessor by 49 points and neatly besting its closest Intel rival – the Core i7-9700K – by 18 points. The image test focuses on single-core performance; somewhere Intel normally shines and AMD often falls behind, thanks to its prioritisation of multithreaded power. To see the Ryzen 7 3700X turn this around is extremely encouraging, and points towards it being a far better CPU for gaming than previous Ryzen 7s, as most games still don’t take full advantage of multiple cores.

On that note, the Ryzen 7 3700X also cruised to 318 in the more multithreading-heavy video editing test, as well as 392 in the multitasking test. The drop in base clock speeds could have been a concern here (as more cores take on heavier loads, individual core speeds drop to lessen heat build-up), but again, the Core i7-9700K can’t keep up. If anything, it’s an even bigger stomp in AMD’s favour, as Intel’s chip ‘only’ scored 258 in the video test and 304 in the multitasking test. The Ryzen 7 3700X is coming genuinely close to bona-fide workstation performance, which for £300 is preposterously good.

Overall, the Ryzen 7 3700X scored 334, which is a healthy 67 points higher than the Core i7-9700K’s score and a gigantic 93 points higher than that of the Ryzen 7 2700X. That’s a 40% improvement in a single generation.

Even more impressively, there’s another Intel chip the Ryzen 7 3700X can take on: the top-of-the-line Core i9-9900K. This scored 173 in the image test, 319 in the video test and 390 in the multitasking test, for 330 overall. In other words, it’s very slightly better than the Ryzen 7 3700X in multithreaded tasks, but the Ryzen’s single-core capability is a bit higher, hence the remarkably similar overall scores.

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AMD Ryzen 7 3700X review: Thermal performance

Since our two testing PCs use different watercoolers, it makes more sense to give temperature recordings for each instead of averaging them out. Specifically, the CCL Paladin has a Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240 RGB, while the Chillblast Fusion Axion employs a Cryorig A80 with a 280mm radiator.

Even with these differences, though, both chips were largely consistent. The Paladin’s Ryzen 7 3700X idled at 34°c, stayed around 62°c under heavy load and peaked at 77°c, while the Fusion Axion’s chip idled at 35°c, was only a bit warmer under load at 66°c and peaked at an identical 77°c.

These are all slightly higher than what I recorded from the Ryzen 7 2700X with mere air cooling, but even at its hottest, the Ryzen 7 3700X doesn’t come anywhere near a dangerous level of heat. That bears well for overclocking (although, as with its 2nd-gen chips, AMD has already set its default 3rd-gen clock speeds as ambitiously as possible), as well as more casual users who can make do with quieter, less intensive cooling.

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X review: Verdict

Even at stock speeds, the Ryzen 7 3700X is fantastically powerful for its price. It can do pretty much anything the Core i9-9900K can do, and for £200 less: that’s the kind of CPU deal I haven’t seen since the original Ryzen 7 1800X undercut half of Intel’s enthusiast line-up back in 2017.

This isn’t the only top-quality CPU in the Ryzen 3000 range, and if you’re primarily interested in gaming (or simply don’t need such immense multitasking power), then the £219 Ryzen 5 3600X is likely a smarter purchase. For media editing, streaming and anything else that benefits from a couple of extra cores, though, the Ryzen 7 3700X should be first on your shopping list.

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