Before beginning this week's hardware news recap, we'd like to highlight for our readers -- or those who just prefer referencing our articles rather than scrubbing through videos at a later date -- that we've been making a bigger push to publish written content to the site lately. This site serves almost more as an archive for the scripts than anything else these days, just because the nature of maintaining it is very difficult given our current working hours, but we like it and we know that all of you like the written format. We've made an active effort in increasing how many of our videos (from YouTube) end up on the website in written form, so we published the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 review, Ryzen 3 3300X review, and our B550 vs. X570 (et al) chipset comparison. Check them out on the home page.

In the meantime, we've got a lot of hardware news for the week to recap: The FCC is being forced to reveal its server logs for concerns stemming from fake comments about net neutrality, NVIDIA and AMD are vying over 5nm supply from fab TSMC, RTX Ampere is getting an announcement this week, Intel Alder Lake and LGA1700 are in the rumor mill, and more.

This is the big one: In this review, we’re benchmarking the AMD R3 3300X $120 CPU, but we’re specifically interested in the real-world impact of the CCX-to-CCX communication latency in the Ryzen 3 3100 versus the Ryzen 3 3300X at the same overclocked frequency of 4.4GHz. It’s massive in some instances, beyond 20%, and eliminates the ability to just overclock the otherwise identical 3100 to meet the 3300X performance for cheaper. As discussed in our Ryzen 3 3100 review that’s already live, the 3300X runs a 4+0 core configuration with everything on one CCD, on one CCX, while the 3100 runs a 2+2 configuration on two CCXs on that CCD. We’re going to look at how much that impacts performance, but also review the 3300X versus basically every other current CPU, and a few older ones.

Today we’re reviewing the AMD R3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X, but we have a dedicated content piece for the AMD R3 3300X because we added benchmarks for the two CPUs at the same frequency, exposing the latency difference between them. For this specific article and video, we’re focusing all of our attention on the AMD R3 3100 CPU at $100, potentially a high-volume part for budget PC builds. That includes overclocking, power consumption, gaming benchmarks, frequency analysis, production workloads (Premiere, Photoshop, compile, et al.), and more. Our AMD Ryzen 3 3300X review will post within a couple of hours on this one (on YouTube, at least, if not also on the site), and that’ll feature head-to-head 4.4GHz overclocks on the R3 3100 vs. R3 3300X, where the 3300X’s 4+0 core CCX configuration can be tested for its real-world latency impact versus the 2+2 3100. 

Writing this review, it felt like we were writing a review script from the same era as the 7700K, and not just because AMD is positioning itself against the 2017 CPU. Back when we reviewed the 7700K, all the comparisons were to the 6700K, the 4790K, the 2600K – the theme was that it was all intra-brand competition. The same is happening now, where we’re throwing a few Intel names out there as comparisons, but until the 10-series, AMD really is just competing against itself. It’s fascinating in a way, because from a reviewer and editorial standpoint, it really does feel like dejavu – except it’s a different company in 2020. The new AMD Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X CPUs have a release date set for May 21, 2020, with the Intel 10th “Gen” release date set for May 20, 2020.

Back when Ryzen 3000 launched, there was reasonable speculation founded in basic physics that the asymmetrical die arrangement of the CPUs with fewer chiplets could have implications for cooler performance. The idea was that, at the root of it, a cooler whose heatpipes aligned to fully contact above the die would perform better, as opposed to one with two coolers sharing vertical contact with the die. We still see a lot of online commentary about this and some threads about which orientation of a cooler is “best,” so we thought we’d bust a few of the myths that popped-up, but also do some testing on the base idea.

This is pretty old news by now, with much of the original discussion starting about two months ago. Noctua revived the issue at the end of October by stating that it believed there to be no meaningful impact between the two possible orientations of heatpipes on AM4 motherboards, but not everyone has seen that, because we’re still getting weekly emails asking us to test this hypothesis.

Thermal Design Power, or TDP, is a term used by AMD and Intel to refer in an extremely broad sense to the rate at which a CPU cooler must dissipate heat from the chip to allow it to perform as advertised. Sort of. Depending on the specific formula and product, this number often ends up a combination of science-y variables and voodoo mysticism, ultimately culminating in a figure that’s used to beat-down forum users over which processor has a lower advertised “TDP”. With the push of Ryzen 3000, we’re focusing today on how AMD defines TDP and what its formula actually breaks into, and how that differs from the way cooler manufacturers define it. Buying a 95W TDP processor and a 95W TDP CPU cooler doesn’t mean they’re perfectly matched, and TDP is a much looser calculation than most would expect. There’s also contention between cooler manufacturers and CPU manufacturers over how this should be accurately calculated versus calculated for marketing, something we’ll explore in today’s content.

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The article continues after the embedded video. Please note that some off-the-cuff/unscripted commentary will not be ported to the article, so you may miss on some commentary, but most of it is here.

Other than announcing our upcoming collaborative stream with overclocker Joe Stepongzi (Bearded Hardware), we're also talking Threadripper specification leaks, 6000MHz memory overclocking, RDNA 2 and Zen 3 roadmap information, and smaller items. For us, though, we're excited to announce that we're streaming some liquid nitrogen extreme overclocks with AMD parts this weekend. We haven't run both the 5700 XT and 3900X under liquid nitrogen at the same time, so we'll be doing that on Sunday (9/15) at 1PM Eastern Time (NYC time). On Saturday (9/14), we'll be streaming the efforts to overclock just the 3900X under liquid nitrogen. Joe Stepongzi, pro overclocker with a decade of experience in the 'sport,' will be joining us to help run the show.

Memory speed on Ryzen has always been a hot subject, with AMD’s 1000 and 2000 series CPUs responding favorably to fast memory while at the same time having difficulty getting past 3200MHz in Gen1. The new Ryzen 3000 chips officially support memory speeds up to 3200MHz and can reliably run kits up to 3600MHz, with extreme overclocks up to 5100MHz. For most people, this type of clock isn’t achievable, but frequencies in the range of 3200 to 4000MHz are done relatively easily, but then looser timings become a concern. Today, we’re benchmarking various memory kits at XMP settings, with Ryzen memory DRAM calculator, and with manual override overclocking. We’ll look at the trade-off of higher frequencies versus tighter timings to help establish the best memory solutions for Ryzen.

One of the biggest points to remember during all of this -- and any other memory testing published by other outlets -- is that motherboard matters almost more than the memory kit itself. Motherboards are responsible for most of the timings auto configured on memory kits, even when using XMP, as XMP can only store so much data per kit. The rest, including unsurfaced timings that the user never sees, are done during memory training by the motherboard. Motherboard manufacturers maintain a QVL (Qualified Vendor List) of kits tested and approved on each board, and we strongly encourage system builders to check these lists rather than just buying a random kit of memory. Motherboard makers will even tune timings for some kits, so there’s potentially a lot of performance lost by using mismatched boards and memory.

Hardware news this past week has only partially slowed, with an uptick in security notices responsible for most of the coverage we've found interesting. Researchers at Eclypsium have identified vulnerabilities in more than 40 drivers from 20 different vendors, something we'll talk about in today's coverage. We also talk about Ryzen 3000 binning statistics posted by Silicon Lottery, the CPU binning company.

Show notes continue after the embedded video.

This is a quick and straightforward piece inspired by a Reddit post from about a week ago. The reddit post was itself a response to a video where a YouTuber claimed to be lowering temperatures and boosting performance on Ryzen 3000 CPUs by lowering the vcore value in BIOS; we never did catch the video, as it has since been retracted and followed-up by the creator and community with new information. Even though the original content was too good to be true, it was still based on a completely valid idea -- lowering voltage, 50% of the equation for power -- will theoretically reduce thermals and power load. The content ended up indirectly demonstrating some unique AMD Ryzen 3000 behaviors that we thought worth testing for ourselves. In this video, we’ll demonstrate how to know when undervolting is working versus not working, talk about the gains or losses, and get some hard numbers for the Master and Godlike motherboards.

With the launch of the Ryzen 3000 series processors, we’ve noticed a distinct confusion among readers and viewers when it comes to the phrases “Precision Boost 2,” “XFR,” “Precision Boost Overdrive,” which is different from Precision Boost, and “AutoOC.” There is also a lot of confusion about what’s considered stock, what PBO even does or if it works at all, and how thermals impact frequency of Ryzen CPUs. Today, we’re demystifying these names and demonstrating the basic behaviors of each solution as tested on two motherboards.

Precision Boost Overdrive is a technology new to Ryzen desktop processors, having first been introduced in Threadripper chips; technically, Ryzen 3000 uses Precision Boost 2. PBO is explicitly different from Precision Boost and Precision Boost 2, which is where a lot of people get confused. “Precision Boost” is not an abbreviation for “Precision Boost Overdrive,” it’s actually a different thing: Precision Boost is like XFR, AMD’s Extended Frequency Range boosting table for boosting a limited number of cores when possible. XFR was introduced with the first Ryzen series CPUs. Precision Boost takes into account three numbers in deciding how many cores can boost and when, and those numbers are PPT, TDC, and EDC, as well as temperature and the chip’s max boost clock. Precision Boost is enabled on a stock CPU, Precision Boost Overdrive is not. What PBO does not ever do is boost the frequency beyond the advertised CPU clocks, which is a major point that people have confused. We’ll quote directly from AMD’s review documentation so that there is no room for confusion:

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