It should be common knowledge by now that the 3rd-gen Ryzen CPUs are simply superb. AMD was already holding its own fairly well in the CPU market ever since the unveiling of the 1st-gen Ryzen CPU, but they’ve done so mostly by offering higher core counts and forcing Intel to react. Yet even so, their CPUs struggled to keep up with the Intel Core series in terms of gaming performance.
This all changed, however, with AMD’s newest generation of CPUs that are so good one might argue the only incentive not to buy an AMD CPU for gaming at the moment would be if you already have a great Intel motherboard. And with Intel reluctant to make their retort with the 10th-gen Core CPUs, it looks like this reign of AMD dominance isn’t ending anytime soon.
But which AMD CPU is the right pick for you?
With so many options to choose from, it can be tough singling out the one CPU that’s best suited to your needs. There’s no need to worry, however, since in this article we’ll be looking at the best outings by AMD across the entire price spectrum.
So without any further ado, let’s begin.
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The 7 Best AMD Ryzen CPUs for 2020
|Category||Product||Core/ Thread Count||Base/ Boost Clock||Stock Cooler||Architecture|
|Budget||6/12||3.4/3.9 GHz||Wraith Stealth||Zen +|
|6/12||3.6/4.2 GHz||Wraith Spire||Zen +|
|Mid-Range||6/12||3.6/4.2 GHz||Wraith Stealth||Zen 2|
|6/12||3.8/4.4 GHz||Wraith Spire||Zen 2|
|High-End||8/12||3.6/4.4 GHz||Wraith Prism||Zen 2|
|APUs||4/8||3.7/4.2 GHz||Wraith Spire||Zen +|
|4/4||3.6/4.0 GHz||Wraith Stealth||Zen +|
Best Budget CPU
AMD has always been known for providing gamers on a budget with the most cost-effective solutions available, be it in the form of CPUs or GPUs. Now at first glance, it may appear unfair to budget gamers that AMD has not released a single 3rd-Gen Ryzen 3 CPU utilizing the new Zen 2 architecture. But in reality, the CPU landscape has never been pleasanter for budget shoppers.
Why is this, you might ask?
One word: discounts!
Ryzen 5 2600
AMD still has a lot of unsold 2nd-gen Ryzen units on its hands, and since they can’t very well sell both the new Ryzen 5 3600 and the old Ryzen 5 2600 for the same price, the older models have received a substantial price cut.
What this means is that the Ryzen 5 2600 – which has only recently been selling for $200 – can now be had for $130 on Amazon. So no, you don’t have any Zen 2 Ryzen 3 processors, but you can get one of the most popular last-gen mid-range CPU at a budget price, which might even be better!
With all that said, we simply have to crown Ryzen 5 2600 as the best budget AMD CPU. A 6 core/12 thread processor with a 3.4GHz base/ 3.9GHz boost clock speed and Wraith Stealth – a decent cooler – for just $130? Yes, please!
- Superb performance
- Very affordable for its specs
- No Zen 2
Ryzen 5 2600X
We also had to give the Ryzen 5 2600X an honorable mention for mostly the same reasons. In essence, this is a factory overclocked version of the Ryzen 5 2600, coming out of the box with a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz. It also comes with the Wraith Spire cooler – a significant upgrade over the Wraith Stealth.
Most importantly, all of these upgrades will only cost you $20, bringing the grand total cost of the Ryzen 5 2600X up to $150. Not bad for a CPU that used to cost $260 until recently and was generally considered to be worth the price. The only reason we have it listed as an honorable mention is that $150 may not sit well with some gamers as a budget price. Still, if you can afford it, you’ll definitely appreciate the higher clock speed and improved cooling.
- Insane performance for the price
- Wraith Spire cooler
- Might be too expensive for a budget CPU
- No Zen 2
Best Mid-Range CPU
Now we come to the really exciting part – mid-range CPUs.
AMD has recently given us what may possibly be the best mid-range CPU ever, so let’s skip the formalities and get right into it.
Ryzen 5 3600
The Ryzen 5 3600 is a genuine beast of a CPU!
It may not look any more impressive than the Ryzen 5 2600X on-paper, seeing as both of these CPUs boast a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz, but you’d be wildly mistaken if you took the identical core count and boost clock as an indicator of equal performance.
The new Ryzen CPU has one weapon in its arsenal that stacks the odds considerably in its favor – the new Zen 2 architecture.
To put into perspective just how big of an impact on performance the new architecture has, let’s compare this CPU to the Intel i5-9600K. The 9600K has been lauded as the most powerful midrange CPU for a long time, and the performance it offered justified these claims. Yet it launched at a way higher price and came with no stock cooling solution to speak of.
By contrast, the Ryzen 5 3600 launched at a relatively low price with a stock cooler and performance exactly on par with Intel’s mid-range champion. In fact, it even outperforms the 9600K in certain games!
And things become even more impressive once we compare this CPU to its older AMD siblings. So much so, that we couldn’t deem it fair to think of this CPU in the same category as the Ryzen 5 2600, despite the similar nomenclature. Not only does the Ryzen 5 3600 outperform the Ryzen 5 2600 by a significant margin, it even outperforms the Ryzen 7 2700, at least as far as gaming is concerned.
So if the Ryzen 5 2600 was our pick for the best budget CPU because it offered mid-range performance at a budget price, then the Ryzen 5 3600 is the best mid-range pick because it manages to well and truly pack the punch of a high-end CPU for just $200.
- Zen 2
- Single core performance that rivals Intel
- Embodiment of cost-efficiency
- Wraith Stealth cooler
Ryzen 5 3600X
Now you might be wondering: But what about the Ryzen 5 3600X? Isn’t this CPU even better?
Well, here’s the thing. The 3600X is an incredible CPU, there’s no denying that. It comes with a small factory overclock and even a better cooler. Having a maximum boost clock of 4.4GHz right out of the box certainly sounds enticing, and the Wraith Spire cooler is much more desirable than the Wraith Stealth cooler the base Ryzen 5 3600 is unfortunately stuck with.
However, it’s worth pointing out that these two things – a slight factory overclock and a better stock cooler – will cost you $40! It’s not a horrible deal and it will net you a slight FPS boost. But for $40 you could buy an aftermarket cooler that puts even the Wraith Prism to shame and manually overclock the base Ryzen 5 3600 beyond what even the 3600X would allow for with its Wraith Spire.
So while it is a magnificent CPU, pound-for-pound it simply cannot beat the 3600 in terms of cost-efficiency. As such, it is best reserved for those who want the extra performance but don’t wish to bother with manual overclocking.
- Wraith Spire cooler
- Factory overclock
- Not the most cost-efficient unit
Best High-End CPU
Next up, let’s take a look at the baddest of the bad, the foremost among the powerful, the best high-end Ryzen CPUs.
Now there’s one thing you may have already noticed. Namely, we mentioned that the Ryzen 7 2700 – a last-gen high-end CPU – is outperformed by the Ryzen 5 3600, which in terms of price is a mid-range solution. The 2700 still has a higher core and thread count, but since gaming is the name of the game, we won’t be taking it into account here.
Ryzen 7 3700X
Well, the situation is rather similar to the one we’ve had with the Ryzen 3600 and the Ryzen 5 3600X, in that the latter model is slightly more powerful, but more expensive… much more expensive.
In the mid-range section, we had a scenario where $40 would land you a slight factory overclock and a better cooler. Well here, the price difference is $70, and all you’re getting for it is a slightly higher base clock and an insignificantly higher boost clock. To be precise, the Ryzen 7 3700X boasts a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a maximum boost of 4.4GHz, while the Ryzen 7 3800X pushes these clock speeds to 3.9GHz and 4.5GHz respectively.
That is all.
They both come with the same Wraith Prism cooler. They’re both 8 core/ 16 thread CPUs.
So we can safely say that the Ryzen 7 3700X is without a doubt the best high-end Ryzen CPU. In terms of cost-efficiency, it beats the 3800X by a landslide. And in terms of performance, it’s pretty much on par with it. So if you’re looking to buy the best high-end Ryzen CPU, don’t look any farther than the Ryzen 7 3700X.
You could look closer, though, given that you don’t need anything more powerful than the Ryzne 3600 for gaming. But don’t be tempted by the 3800X. It’s simply not worth the extra money.
- Wraith Prism cooler
- Zen 2
- Unmatched multi-core performance
- Powerful single-core performance
- Fair price
And finally, we have to dedicate a section of this article to AMD’s new line of APUs.
Now if you don’t know what an APU is you can find a more detail explanation in this article, but for now let’s just say that an APU is basically a CPU/GPU hybrid, housing both of these on a single die. You can think of APUs as CPUs with integrated graphics, if this will make things easier, just know that this technically isn’t correct.
Now we’ve received two new APUs alongside the 3rd-gen CPUs – the Ryzen 5 3400G and the Ryzen 3 2200G.
A quick disclaimer: these APUs do not use the new Zen 2 architecture, but rather the Zen + architecture that was used in 2nd-gen Ryzen CPUs. So for all intents and purposes, they are 2nd-gen products that have snuck their way into 3rd-gen. This is no secret – it even says Zen + right there on the box – but we felt obliged to point it out since it’s easy to assume that all 3rd-gen Ryzen units would utilize the new Zen 2 architecture.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at the APUs themselves.
Ryzen 5 3400G
The Ryzen 5 3400G may still run on previous-gen architecture, but it is without a doubt the best APU on the market. With a maximum boost of 4.2GHz, the 3400G handily outperforms its predecessor, the 2400G.
Like all APUs, the 3400G does have a lower core count than your average Ryzen 5 CPU, with 4 cores and 8 threads as opposed to 6 cores and 12 threads. This, however, doesn’t impede gameplay performance too much. Even after buying a dedicated graphics card and using the 3400G just as a CPU, you should expect to lag behind the Ryzen 3600 by only about 10FPS, and that’s saying something.
As for the GPU side of things, the new 3400G presents a large leap in performance. For example, the 2400G could only run Fortnite at 60FPS with the resolution turned down to 720p, but the 3400G manages to sustain a stable 60FPS at 1080p. Granted, you’ll still have to run certain games in 900p or 720p, and you shouldn’t expect to game on max settings, but if you’re looking to game without a dedicated graphics card, it doesn’t get any better than this.
- Best in-game performance among APUs
- Decent core count
- No Zen 2
Ryzen 3 3200G
How does the Ryzen 3 3200G compare to this?
Honestly, the performance difference isn’t all that big on the GPU side of things. This will, of course, depend on the game you’re playing and the graphics you’re playing it on, but while the FPS difference can amount to over 10FPS in certain games, it can also be as small as 3FPS in others.
The biggest difference, however, is its limiting core count. A slightly lower maximum boost of 4.0GHz is still nothing to scoff at, but a quad-core CPU without any type of multithreading is bound to prove problematic if you have any ambitions of upgrading your PC with a dedicated graphics card.
So while the Ryzen 3 3200G is an excellent budget APU, we’d still recommend getting the Ryzen 5 3400G if the budget allows for it, for future-proofing if nothing else.
- Very affordable
- Graphics don’t lag too far behind Ryzen 5 3400G
- No Zen 2
- Low core count