Hardware news this week has been busy, once again, slotting right in between silicon product releases. Our AMD Ryzen 5000 coverage is mostly done, but we're now ramping into RX 6000 GPU coverage. While preparing work for the RX 6800 XT (and subsequent) GPU launches, we opened a dialogue with NVIDIA to ask about a potential PCIe resizable BAR implementation as a counter to AMD's SAM. That's our leading story for this one, followed-up by some coverage of the Zen 3 delidding work done recently, Intel's add-in GPU for servers, and more.

It’s been another busy week in hardware news as we move closer towards an official GPU launch (RTX 3000). As an update, NVIDIA has moved the review embargo lift (and we're able to tell you about it) from Monday the 14th to Wednesday the 16th. RTX 3080 reviews will go live on Wednesday. The date was moved because of global shipping delays causing some other regions (outside North America) to receive cards late for reviewers; in effort to keep it fair between reviewers around the world, NVIDIA pushed its review embargo date back. On a similar note, AMD finally decided to let us know when we’ll see “Big Navi” (RDNA 2) and Zen 3. There’s also a bit of speculation on possible price changes for AMD’s upcoming GPUs, in light of Nvidia’s emerging RTX 3000 series. 

Elsewhere, Microsoft finally ended its game of chicken with Sony by revealing prices for its upcoming consoles, so the ball is firmly in Sony’s court. We also have some hardware specs on the now-confirmed Xbox Series S that will launch alongside the Xbox Series X.

Rounding-out the news for this week, there’s some interesting research being done on the possibility of embedded liquid cooling, some news surrounding Western Digital’s “5400 RPM-class” designation, and the return of Cryorig. As usual, the news article and video embed follow below.

In this content, we’re going to be breaking-down the AMD B550 vs. X570, B450, X470, X370, and A320 chipset specifications number-by-number. Our goal is to look at this purely from a facts-based angle of what the differences are, and those differences will include both numerical specification differences (number and type of lanes afforded) and forward or backwards compatibility differences. This includes the intent of the 500-series chipsets to support Zen 3 architecture (reminder: that’s not the same as Ryzen 4000 mobile, nor is it the same as Ryzen 3000 desktop), while the existing B450 and X470 boards are left to cap-out at Ryzen 3000 series (Zen 2) parts.

We have some additional discussion of the basics of naming, including CPU naming distinctions, in our video component that accompanies this article. You may get more information on the differences between AMD Zen generations and Ryzen generations in that content.

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.

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.

For our 2700/2700X review, we wanted to see how Ryzen 2’s volt-frequency performance compared to Ryzen 1. We took our Ryzen 7 2700X and an R7 1700 and clocked them both to 4GHz, and then found the lowest possible voltage that would allow them to survive stress tests in Blender and Prime95. Full results are included in that review, but the most important point was this: the 1700 needed at least 1.425v to maintain stability, while the 2700X required only 1.162v (value reported by HWiNFO, not what was set in BIOS).

This drew our attention, because we already knew that our 2700X could barely manage 4.2GHz at >1.425v. In other words, a 5% increase in frequency from 4 to 4.2GHz required a 22.6% increase in reported voltage.

Frequency in Ryzen 2 has started to behave like GPU Boost 3.0, where temperature, power consumption, and voltage heavily impact boosting behavior when left unmanaged. Our initial experience with Ryzen 2 led us to believe that a volt-frequency curve would look almost exponential, like the one on the screen now. That was our hypothesis. To be clear, we can push frequency higher with reference clock increases to 102 or 103MHz and can then sustain 4.2GHz at lower voltages, or even 4.25GHz and up, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to plot a volt-frequency curve with just multiplier and voltage modifications. We typically run out of thermal headroom before we run out of safe voltage headroom, but if voltage increases exponentially, that will quickly become a problem.

The AMD R5 2600 and 2600X are, we think, among the more interesting processors that AMD launched for its second generation. The R5 1600 and 1600X received awards from us for 2017, mostly laying claim to “Best All-Around” processor. The 1600 series of R5 CPUs maintained 6 cores, most the gaming performance of the R7 series, and could still capably stream or perform Blender-style production rendering tasks. At the $200-$230 price range, we claimed that it functionally killed the quad-core i5 CPU, later complicated by Intel’s six-core i5 release.

The R5 2600 and 2600X have the same product stack positioning as the 1000-series predecessors, just with higher clock speeds. For specs, the R5 2600X operates at 3.6GHz base and 4.2GHz boost, with the 2600 at 3.4/3.9GHz, and the R5 1600X/1600 operating at a maximum boost of 4.0 and 3.6GHz, respectively.

AMD’s impending Ryzen 2 CPUs – not to be confused with Zen 2, the architecture – will launch on April 19, 9AM EST, and are preempted by yet another “unboxing embargo.” We’re not technically covered under these embargoes, as we’ve sourced parts externally and are operating independently for this launch. That said, as we’ve stated in a few places, we have decided to respect the embargo (although are under no obligation to do so) out of respect for our peers. This is also being done out of trust that AMD has rectified its preferential media treatment exhibited for Threadripper, as we were told the company would do.

Still, we wanted to share some preconditions we’re considering for test cases in our Ryzen 2 CPU reviews. Some of that will be covered here today, with most of the data being held for the April 19 embargo lift. We have been testing and iterating on tests for a few weeks now, updating EFI as new versions push and collecting historical data along the way.

The core specs – those regurgitated all over the internet, undoubtedly – will follow below.

The CPUs discussed today include (Amazon pre-order links below, although we never recommend pre-ordering PC hardware):

This episode of Ask GN, shipping on Christmas day, answers a few pertinent questions from the last few weeks: We'll talk about whether we made ROI on the Titan V, whether it makes more sense to buy Ryzen now or wait for Ryzen+/Ryzen2, and then dive into the "minor" topics for the segment. Smaller topics include discussion on choosing games for benchmarking -- primarily, why we don't like ROTTR -- and our thoughts on warranty/support reviews, with some reinforced information on vertical GPU mounting. The conclusion focuses on an ancient video card and some GN modmat information.

The embedded video below contains the episode. Timestamps are below that.

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