Ryzen 3000 Review: AMD's 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X conquers all

With its ground-breaking 7nm process, AMD's Ryzen 9 3900X leave very little room for Intel's best CPUs.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

Ryzen 9 3900X encoding performance

These next tests are for those who edit or transcode video. First we use the latest version (1.2.2) of the free and popular HandBrake app to convert a UHD 4K video that was original encoded in MPEG4 in a .MOV container using the H.265 preset at the same resolution. The original file is about 6.3GB, in size which compresses down to about 600MB. Handbrake loves CPU cores and threads, and it typically scales nicely as you up the core count.

The Ryzen 9 3900X finishes an impressive 43 percent ahead of the Core i9-9900K on our conversion. Even on the Ryzen 9 3900X, it’s a beefy 30 minutes to finish the conversion.

ryzen 9 3900x handbrake 4k mp4 to h265 mcepbooff IDG

The Ryzen 9 3900X easily wallops the Core i9 when doing a 4K encode using the H.265 codec.

It’s another big, big win for the Ryzen 9 3900X for CPU-based encoding. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that the one ace the Core i9-9900K has up its sleeve is QuickSync encoding. Rather than using the general-purpose CPU processors to convert the video, the Core i9 has a built-in GPU with fixed function processors that do only one thing, but do it stupidly fast.

Convert the video on the eight CPU cores of the Core i9, and you’re looking at a 47-minute wait. Convert it on the 12-CPU cores of the Ryzen 9 and you’re looking at about 30 minutes—just enough for a short lunch. But use QuickSync’s H.265 fixed function, and you’re looking at 4 minutes. Just barely enough time to grab a cup of joe.

Not all features or profiles in HandBrake use QuickSync, but when it does—damn.

In the end though, when you’re doing a CPU encode, Ryzen 9 wins hands down.

We’ll end our encoding test with Adobe’s popular Premiere CC 2019. For this test we use footage shot by PCWorld’s video department for a story on HP’s Chromebook 13. The video was shot at 4K resolution using a Sony Alpha A7 II, which was then edited for the video you can view here. For this test, we use the latest version of Premiere CC 2019 and export it using the Blu-ray preset using the Maximum Render quality flag. All three projects were read and written to the same Plextor M.2 SSD to remove storage as a variable in the test.

ryzen 9 3900x premiere export IDG

The Ryzen 9 3900X’s extra cores let it beat up on the Core i9 in Premiere CC 2019.

We exported video using HEVC as well. The Ryzen 9 3900X continues to blow by the Core i9, but the gap closes up a little. Still, a shorter bar means less time wasted no matter how you cut it.

ryzen 9 3900x premiere export hevc IDG

We also exported our Premiere project using the Premiere’s HEVC encoder, which is licensed from MainConcept.

Ryzen 3000 Photoshop Performance

We don’t normally use Adobe’s popular Photoshop as a performance test because, well, you don’t normally net the same dividends you do with modelling or video encoding. It’s an application that’s mostly balanced on single-threaded performance.

With the increased IPC and slightly higher clocks of the Ryzen 9 3900X, we did want to see if it could hang with the mighty Core i9’s high clocks. For this test, we used Puget System’s free Photoshop benchmark script and selected the Photoshop Extended script run. The Ryzen 9 3900X’s score of 992 is very respectable and about 6 percent faster than the Core i9-9900K’s overall score of 932.

ryzen 9 3900x puget systems photoshop test IDG

The performance gap is slimmer, but the Ryzen 9 3900X still wins.

Ryzen 3000 Compression tests 

Moving on to compression, we’ll kick it off with RARlab’s WinRAR 5.71. The program features a built-in benchmark, which we first run in single-threaded mode. The results show a big boost for the new Ryzen 3000 chips over the Ryzen 2000 chips, as the new 4.6GHz boost Ryzen 9 3900X draws fairly close to the 5GHz Core i9-9900K.

ryzen 9 3900x winrar 5.71 1t IDG

The Ryzen 9 3900X actually offers up a very decent uplift over the previous Ryzen 7 2700X.

Things go sideways when we shift to multi-threaded performance. While the Ryzen 9 3900X actually turns in a decent result, it falls slightly behind the Core i9-9900K despite having four more cores.

We’ll note that WinRAR typically hasn’t liked Ryzen-based CPUs (nor Intel’s Skylake X chips either). This result is a pretty decent uptick for the Ryzen 9 3900X overall, just not the victory we expected after seeing how well the CPU performed elsewhere.

ryzen 9 3900x winrar 5.71 nt IDG

This WinRAR result can be seen as good or bad in some ways. WinRAR has traditionally favored Intel CPUs, as we can see from the dismal performance of the Ryzen 7 2700X. The fact that the Ryzen 9 3900X is just about tied with the Core i9 can be seen as an improvement.

The good news for Ryzen 9 3900X is its performance in the far more popular 7Zip is pretty damn good.

The test reports compression performance and decompression performance. The app’s creator has said compression speed is mostly tilted to memory latency as well as data cache/size and speed performance. How a CPU can deal with out-of-order execution also helps.

ryzen 9 3900x 7zip compressing 1t IDG

The single-threaded performance in 7Zip slightly favors the Core i9 chip.

Decompression performance is largely reliant on integer performance and how well the CPU handles branch mispredictions.

We run 7Zip 19.00 using the default dictionary size of 32MB. We also run the amount of threads equal to the CPU’s available threads, as well as testing single-thread.

In single-threaded performance, the 5GHz Core i9, with its roughly 8-percent clock advantage over the 4.6GHz Ryzen 9, yields about a 7.5-percent performance advantage in the compression portion. In multi-threaded performance, we see the Ryzen 9 gain a 36-percent advantage over the Core i9.

ryzen 9 3900x 7zip compressing nt IDG

Multi-threaded performance sees the Ryzen 9 dominate easily.

Moving over to the decompression test, the gap between the Core i9 and Ryzen 9 closes to 5 percent in favor of the Intel CPU. When you factor in all of the CPU cores available, the Ryzen 9 sprints past to the Core i9 by a whopping 46 percent.

ryzen 9 3900x 7zip decompressing nt IDG

Decompressing is traditionally greatly limited by integer performance and how good a CPU can handle branch misprediction.  

While the Core i9 has a single-digit advantage in single-threaded tasks, we have to say the Ryzen 9 is so close it doesn’t matter. When you open it up to all cores—it’s an epic beating.

ryzen 9 3900x 7zip decompressing 1t IDG

In integer performance, the results indicate single-threaded performance is nearly a tie between all three, with the Core i9 squeaking out ahead.

Keep reading for game performance testing

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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