AMD officially announced its brand-new Zen 3 Ryzen CPUs today, and gave graphics-starved gamers a little taste of what they can expect from the release of Big Navi later this month. We’ve extracted as many details as possible from AMD’s event. Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to make a system upgrade soon.
We’ll start with graphics, because there’s not nearly as much to talk about.
I love it when you call me Big Navi
For all the build-a-PC fanatics frustrated you can’t get your hands on a shiny new Nvidia graphics card, I feel you. AMD feels you, too—the company is hoping you’ll give its RX 6000 “Big Navi” graphics cards a shot when they make their official debut later this month.
The company couldn’t resist showing off a little bit of Big Navi in today’s CPU-packed announcements. The Radeon RX 6000 card previewed topped 60 frames per second across three demanding titles—Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Gears of War 5—at their most punishing graphical settings, and at 4K resolution. Not bad, but these are AMD benchmarks running on AMD gear, so we’ll take them with a large grain of salt until reviewers can get their hands on the cards.
That shouldn’t take too long, as AMD would be foolish to ignore graphics-card-starved gamers right now. I bet there are quite a few people who are sick of trying to beat reseller bots for Nvidia’s RTX 3000-series cards and willing to be swayed by AMD’s offerings, even if they end up not being as fast as Nvidia’s in the end. (That’s just speculation, though; we’ll know more after AMD’s Big Navi reveal on Oct. 28.)
Let’s talk CPUS: Zen 3 Ryzen arrives November 5
AMD’s event today was all about its latest Zen 3 Ryzen CPUs, including what it’s calling the “world’s best gaming CPU.” Fighting words, so let’s get geeky for a second.
AMD’s claims its architectural changes for Zen 3 Ryzen give its chips a 19% increase in overall performance over its Zen 2 chips. It breaks down the performance boosts like so:
Based on AMD’s math, its Zen 3 Ryzen CPUs are also 2.4 times more efficient from a performance-per-watt perspective than its first-gen Ryzen CPUs, and approximately 24 percent more efficient than its second-gen Ryzens. All four Zen 3 chips support DDR4-3200, but only one is coming with its own cooler—the cheapest Ryzen 7 5600X chip. BYOC, enthusiasts.
AMD threw out plenty of other figures to show off the raw of performance its Zen 3 processors, claiming that they were an average of around 25 percent faster for gaming than its most recent enthusiast chip, the Zen 2 Ryzen 9 3900XT. But again, these are all AMD benchmarks.
As before, it’s worth waiting for a less biased series of reviews to put AMD’s chips to the test across a wide variety of gaming benchmarks and real-world scenarios.
That said, I’ve seen reports already suggesting that AMD’s figures, if accurate, would make its 5900X and 5950X chips the fastest you can buy for single-core performance. I’d still hold out until reviews put these chips through their paces, but its near-18% performance boost on a single-core CineBench test compared to top Zen 2 chips is no joke.
AMD’s Zen 3 Ryzen CPUs drop on November 5, and here’s the full lineup you’ll be able to buy:
- AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: $799. 16/32 (cores/threads), 3.4GHz Base Clock, 4.9GHz Boost Clock, 72MB cache
- AMD Ryzen 9 5900X: $549. 12/24 (cores/threads), 3.7GHz Base Clock, 4.8GHz Boost Clock, 70MB cache
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X: $449. 8/16 (cores/threads), 3.8GHz Base Clock, 4.7GHz Boost Clock, 36MB cache
- AMD Ryzen 7 5600X: $299. 6/12 (cores/threads), 3.7GHz Base Clock, 4.6GHz Boost Clock, 35MB cache. Comes with Wraith Stealth CPU cooler
You can’t pre-order any of these chips. And if you’re observant, you’ll notice that you’re paying $50 more for each chip than its Zen 2 equivalent. I suspect AMD’s Zen 3 chips will still take a performance-per-dollar crown victory over Intel, but we’ll see how the figures shake out once everyone gets a chance to run some tests. And who knows what we’ll see when Intel fires back with Rocket Lake chips early next year.
While you wait for Zen 3, make sure your AMD 500-series motherboard is updated to the latest BIOS available, so any upgrades you make will work on launch day. AMD 400-series motherboards will also support Ryzen 5000-series chips, but beta BIOSes for that aren’t expected to hit until January, with stable releases arriving later next year per whatever schedule each motherboard manufacturer chooses.