HW News: AMD Ryzen XT Processors

Introduction

I used to write bi-weekly blog posts in a series called Glenn’s Tech Insights. Since I’m not doing that any longer, I will continue to write about HW news on a regular basis here.  Recently, there has been a lot of news about several new and upcoming AMD desktop products.

AMD Matisse Refresh Processors

AMD has officially announced the previously rumored Zen 2 “Matisse Refresh” processors. There are three SKUs, which are the Ryzen 5 3600XT, Ryzen 7 3800XT, and Ryzen 9 3900XT. These processors are identical to the previous Ryzen 5 3600X, Ryzen 7 3800X, and Ryzen 9 3900, except for 100-200 MHz increases in max boost speeds. These new processors will go on sale on July 7, 2020.

The new Ryzen 5 3600XT still includes a Wraith Spire CPU cooler, but the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT do not include a CPU cooler. The existing Ryzen 7 3800X and Ryzen 9 3900X include the pretty decent Wraith Prism CPU cooler.

AMD Matisse Refresh Metrics
AMD Matisse Refresh Metrics

If you look at the table above, it is hard to justify getting a Ryzen 9 3900XT instead of a Ryzen 9 3900X. It is very hard to justify getting a Ryzen 7 3800XT instead of a Ryzen 7 3700X. Finally, it is extremely hard to justify getting a Ryzen 5 3600XT instead of a Ryzen 5 3600.

I am going to withhold final judgement until I see benchmark results for the XT processors. They may boost cores more aggressively than the X processors due to better binning. It is also possible that they may let you boost the Infinity Fabric to a higher speed. I also want to see actual pricing and whether Micro Center decides to carry them.

Overall, this is a pretty underwhelming release. It was just something AMD could easily do to help counter Intel Comet Lake-S. I don’t think it means that Zen 3 is delayed.

AMD B550 Motherboards Available

AMD has released the testing embargo on on B550 chipset motherboards, and they are actually on sale (at least at Micro Center) starting today. This chipset is the replacement for the B450 chipset, that has PCIe 4.0 support and better support for upcoming Zen 3 processors.

AMD B550 Chipset
AMD B550 Chipset

Keep in mind that the PCIe 4.0 support on B550 is only from the processor, not from the the chipset. Most B550 motherboards have one M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slot. A few have two, and one has three M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slots. There is a wide variation in B550 motherboard pricing, going from about $100 up to $280.00. This is a significant increase over B450 motherboard pricing, especially at the high end.

Personally, I would not pay more than about $200 for a B550 motherboard. Once you go much above $200, you might as well get an X570 motherboard.

If you want PCIe 4.0 support and a slightly better CPU upgrade path than B450, then B550 makes sense. Generally speaking, B550 motherboards do have better quality components than B450 (for things like VRMs, networking and sound chips). This helps justify the higher pricing. OTOH, if you are budget conscious, a good B450 board (like the MSI B450 Tomahawk or Tomahawk MAX) will serve you just as well in most scenarios.

Here is some more detailed information about B550 motherboards:

Final Words

I have seen quite a bit of anger from some enthusiasts about Matisse Refresh and B550 pricing. Some people have even accused AMD of “acting just like Intel”, which is quite the insult in that community. I think the fact that AMD is doing so well with technology leadership means they have less need to be so aggressive with pricing, like they had to do in the past.

This is still a great time to be a hardware enthusiast. There are so many new products and improvements in the pipeline. The competition between Intel and AMD drives innovation at a faster pace, which benefits everyone.

If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!

Categories AMD, HW News, PC HardwareTags

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