2nd generation AMD Ryzen 3.
2nd generation AMD Ryzen 3.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

AMD has finally announced it’s adding super affordable Ryzen 3 desktop processors to its 3rd generation line-up, plus a new B550 chipset that supports PCIe 4.0. Based on AMD’s latest Zen 2 architecture, the Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X are Intel i3 competitors designed to handle both work productivity loads and gaming at a 1080p resolution with graphics on high, the best of both worlds for anyone building a desktop on a super tight budget. The 3100 will cost $100 and the 3300X $120. Both should be available starting May 21, 2020.

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At those prices, both CPUs are 4-core/8-thread processors with a thermal design power (TDP) of 65W and 18MB of total cache. The Ryzen 3 3100 has a base speed of 3.6GHz (3.9GHz boost) and the 3300X has a base speed of 3.8GHz (4.3GHz boost). By comparison, the previous Ryzen 3 2300X only had a 4-core/4-thread design with a total cache of 8MB, but base/boost clock speeds square in the middle of the 3100 and 3300X. The 2nd and 1st-gen processors also had a TDP of 65W as well, which means these latest Ryzen 3s are more power-efficient.

Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) technology is enabled on these processors for the first time, too. That means each of the physical cores are split into virtual ones, theoretically increasing the performance so each core can run two instruction streams at once. (Intel’s process is called hyper-threading, but they both do the same thing.) That’s why there’s eight threads this time instead of four. Great news for anyone who wants to game on a budget, but even better news for anyone who needs to build a work station on a budget.

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AMD claims the new Ryzen 3s have up to 20 percent faster gaming performance and up to 75 percent faster creator performance than Intel’s Core i3-9100. We have yet to test those claims ourselves, so take those numbers with a grain of salt for now. But when you compare specs between the two brands, the Core i3-9100 walks away with 4-cores/4-threads (no hyper-threading), the same TDP, and 6MB cache. The max speed is 4.2GHz (3.6GHz base), which is just a tad under the Ryzen 3 3300X for roughly the same price and makes the 3300X the more attractive option.

Intel has yet to release its rival 10th-gen desktop processors.

New budget Ryzen desktop CPUs also mean a new chipset to go with them. Motherboards with the new B550 chip should be available starting June 16, 2020 from ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, Colorful, Gigabyte, and MSI. These motherboards are PCIe 4.0 compatible, but that doesn’t translate to much when it comes to gaming. However, if you’re looking to push the read/write speeds of your M.2 SSD as high as they can go, that’s where you’ll see the benefit of having PCIe 4.0. Though that might mean your storage ends up being the most expensive component in your Ryzen 3 PC (provided you go with a cheap GPU...which will be required as these CPUs have no GPU capabilities).

Staff Reporter & Reviews at Gizmodo, formerly PC Gamer.

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