AMD’s Zen 2 architecture has taken the PC building world by storm, offering great price to performance metrics that have put a massive dent into the marketshare difference between team Red and Blue. With the inclusion of the latest Ryzen 3 offerings, the 3300X and 3100, AMD has filled out their portfolio nicely with new mainstream CPUs targeted at budget builders and pure gaming desktops.
Retailing for $180 and $150 CAD respectively, the 3300X and 3100 are priced exceptionally well for quad-core processors, but the value of these chips is sweetened even more with the addition of hyperthreading. These CPUs are a massive upgrade from previous generation Ryzen 3s in every category from clock speeds to single-core performance thanks to the inclusion of 18MB of L3 cache, higher stock frequencies, and more powerful boost modes. AMD has made it their goal to build a quad-core equivalent to the Intel Core i7-7700K, which was one of Intel’s best sellers while it remained in production, and they have finally accomplished that goal at nearly a third of the 7700K’s initial MSRP.
While the Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 are quite close in comparison spec-wise, there is one key difference between them that I believe makes the 3300X the ideal buy for most consumers, and that’s their CCX count. To put it in as simple terms as possible all four cores and L3 cache in the Ryzen 3 3300X exist on one core complex (CCX), compared to the two CCX format of the 3100. This means that all of the cores in the 3300X are directly communicating with each other instead of being split off, which definitely explains the mild disparity in performance between these two CPUs in our recorded benchmarks.
To give the closest representation of what performance users should expect when building a PC with a budget of around $1000 our test bench consists of our review unit CPUs, a Vega 56 GPU, and 16GB of GDDR4 RAM running at 3200MHz all operating on the latest version of Windows 10. The only real outliers in our bench is that we are using an X470 chipset motherboard instead of the more budget-oriented B450 or B550 AM4 motherboards which these CPUs are also compatible with, but this difference should not impact performance in the slightest. Users can also replace the Vega 56 GPU with a more modern equivalent like the Radeon RX 5600XT, where they should also expect to see performance gains on average of about 10% across most titles.
One component builders will definitely want to change out as soon as possible is the included Wraith Stealth cooler. While the Wraith Stealth was a competent cooling solution for older gen Ryzen 3 processors, the 3300X and 3100 run hotter at stock speeds, and at boost speeds, this cooler simply isn’t keeping up like it used to. Aftermarket $50 coolers like the Hyper 212 Evo from Cooler Master should be plenty capable of taking care of your Ryzen 3’s thermals, while also providing enough headroom to experiment with light overclocking profiles for even more performance in games.
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 are great quad-core CPUs that are worth every dollar, bringing previously high-end features to the mainstream audience for under $200. While Intel is definitely aiming to fight back against these processors with their 10th generation Core i3 offerings, the lack of more L3 cache firmly locks in that Ryzen is still going to be superior in a wider variety of workloads and about on par in gaming. Now that Intel is starting to push back though, both companies will no doubt be focused on developing even stronger CPUs at a cheaper price point, while we consumers sit back and reap in the benefits as they fight for our hard-earned dollars.