AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs don’t hit promised boost speeds in many cases, survey claims

(Image credit: Future)

Everything is going pretty well for AMD with its new Ryzen 3000 processors, by-and-large, but there’s one notable point of negativity in the form of the CPUs not reaching their promised boost speeds – an issue now compounded by a freshly released survey.

This comes from renowned overclocker Der8auer who compiled the responses from a survey of just over 2,700 users who detailed the performance of their Ryzen 3rd-gen processors – with startling results.

The worrying revelations include only 5.6% of Ryzen 9 3900X owners reporting that their processor reached its rated boost clock. That’s only one in 20.

And as Tom’s Hardware reports, while AMD has previously confirmed that only one single core on any given CPU is guaranteed to hit the advertised boost clock speed, according to the results of this survey, a number of chips aren’t hitting AMD’s rated boost speed at all – on any core.

And of course even those chips which are reaching the promised boost may only do that briefly, peaking at that speed from time to time.

The survey make-up saw the majority of respondents (40%) owning a Ryzen 7 3700X, with 26% having the aforementioned 3900X, and 21% of those surveyed having a Ryzen 5 3600 nestling in their PC. As you can see, those three chips represented the vast majority of respondents.

So, taking the results of the Ryzen 7 3700X, the most common processor in the survey, Der8auer observed that only 14.7% of chips were hitting the advertised boost speed of 4.4GHz or more (only 1.8% of respondents actually bettered that speed with their processor). So of course that means the vast majority – 85.3% – weren’t ever reaching the advertised boost speed at all, on any core.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Ryzen 9 3900X painted an even bleaker picture with only 5.6% of chips making the promised boost speed of 4.6GHz or better.

The results with the Ryzen 5 3600 saw 49.8% of respondents hitting the advertised boost speed of 4.2GHz or better – the vast majority, just over 45.2%, reaching that exact speed, with a small number managing to creep over (and up to 4.3GHz in the best cases).

Overall, then, it doesn’t look good for AMD, and certainly going by these statistics, there’s a lot of Ryzen 3rd-gen silicon out there which simply doesn’t reach the promised boost speed at all.

A lot of folks might have got pretty close, but as Der8auer observes, he doesn’t regard that as good enough – simply because these are peak speeds, which aren’t going to be maintained, so even if a CPU managed to get within 0.025GHz, it won’t be running at near that advertised boost speed consistently.

We’d also argue that the advertised boost speed should be hit, simply because that is the advertised speed, and nearly isn’t really good enough when considering an actual down-in-black-and-white CPU spec.

Survey slipups?

Could there be something awry with the survey? Der8auer details his methodology in his YouTube video (above), and he certainly seems to have thought things through, and put in place safeguards to get rid of troll results, or those PCs with unsuitable setups for whatever reason (users with PBO or Precision Boost Overdrive enabled, for example).

Speeds were recorded performing the Cinebench R15 single-threaded test, which was a recommendation from AMD, he further notes.

Not everything is perfect here, though, as the overclocker himself admits. Obviously these results were pulled from various different systems, and it’s also not clear which versions of Windows 10 were running on the PCs – which AMD draws attention to as potentially making a difference.

Der8auer argues as a counterpoint that if this is the case, AMD really should highlight any performance difference if you’re not running a specific version of Windows 10 (or indeed if you’re not running Windows 10 at all).

Probably the biggest potential stumbling block here, which again both AMD and Der8auer point out, is the fact that disgruntled Ryzen 3000 processor owners are more likely to have responded to the survey, simply because they have beef with their purchase and the boost clock its managing.

Arguably, that could therefore skew the results towards underperforming chips, hence the rather eyebrow-raising percentages seen here. And that’s a fair point, really, although Der8auer does raise another counterpoint here, in that there may be AMD fans who are just as keen to get their positive results.

But let’s face it, the dissatisfied folks are more likely to outweigh any AMD fans when it comes to putting their two cents in. Still, to skew things all that much perhaps seems a stretch…

It should be interesting to see if AMD has any response to this latest apparent blow on the boost clock front, although we should end this piece as Der8auer ends his video.

And that’s with a reminder that this by no means devalues AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 processors in terms of the performance users are actually getting from these chips, regardless of how far any boost speed is pushed.

Der8auer notes that these are still “great value” processors, and of course we were blown away by the Ryzen 3rd-gen offerings in our reviews. In short, remember that any apparent issues with boost clocks or disappointing overclocking prospects certainly don’t mean you shouldn’t consider a Ryzen 3000 model as your next processor.

Besides, clock speeds aren’t everything, of course, and the architectural improvements Zen 2 ushers in are substantial indeed – but this whole boost clock issue remains a notable black blot on an otherwise bright Ryzen 3000 canvas.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).