The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X is an amazing budget processor, delivering performance that until now was only available on mid-range or high-end hardware. We imagine that this processor is going to be the best gaming CPU for most people in 2020, and maybe even beyond.
Excellent multi-core performance
Mid-range gaming performance for cheap
Not a huge jump over Ryzen 3 3100
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Along with the AMD Ryzen 3 3100, the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X has finally brought the fantastic Zen 2 CPU architecture to entry-level gaming PCs for the first time. Unfortunately, when AMD unveiled the Ryzen 3000 lineup back at Computex 2019, there weren't any cheap processors available, so it's awesome that more people can get into this future-ready platform.
AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation brings some crucial improvements to the table, most notably PCIe 4.0 and high IPC performance, so it's a big deal that it's now available to people trying to build a cheap gaming PC.
When you pair that with the AMD B550 chipset that will be showing up in June 2020, you're going to be able to build a gaming PC on a budget that's up there with a top-end gaming rig from just a few years ago. And, to that end, the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X will be one of the best processors for anyone who's building a budget gaming PC, as it delivers fantastic performance at a low cost.
Price and availability
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X, along with its lower-specced sibling, the 3100, is available now. If you want to get your hands on the Ryzen 3 3300X, you're looking at $120 (about £100, AU$190). Which, considering that this processor basically matches and occasionally beats the $198 (£229, AU$439) Intel Core i5-9600K, is a pretty fantastic price. We fully expect the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X to become the de facto budget gaming chip, unless, of course, Intel's Comet Lake-S processors can topple it.
Features and chipset
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X is built on the same 7nm Zen 2 architecture as the rest of the Ryzen 3000 lineup – not to be confused with something like the Ryzen 3 3200G, which is still a 12nm Zen+ chip. There are a number of improvements that come with this architecture.
Probably the most important to the sector of the market that this processor is aiming at is a huge 15% bump to IPC performance. Essentially, every clock cycle gets more work done. This gives the processor more performance at a lower clock speed, which means AMD was able to keep power consumption and heat relatively low.
So, while the clock speed seems kind of low with a boost of 4.3GHz, the Ryzen 3 3300X is able to do more with less. The huge amount of L3 cache on this processor – up to 16MB from the 8MB found on the Ryzen 3 2300X – also helps the 3300X reach high levels of performance with a lower price tag.
It's impossible to not mention the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 here, though. The two processors are being released side-by-side, and on the surface look very similar. They're both 4-core, 8-thread processors with only a 200MHz difference in clock speeds. They also both have a 65W Thermal Design Power (TDP).
The Ryzen 3 3300X manages to be about 10% faster, though, and it all comes down to how the CPU cores are laid out on the CCX (CPU Core Complex). Rather than splitting the four cores between having two separate CCXs with two CPU cores each, like on the AMD Ryzen 3 3100, the four cores are located on the same CCX, reducing latency and allowing for a unified L3 cache for all four cores.
This does have a drawback, however. While performance does see between a 10-20% jump, the CPUs being concentrated on one CCX sees max temperature jump up 22% – and that's using stock settings with the same 360mm AIO cooler. This does suggest that the Ryzen 3 3100 will be better for overclocking, though that's not something we tested for this review.
And, of course, we can't talk about any Ryzen 3000 or newer processor without mentioning PCIe 4.0. While the interface is still in its infancy, we're pretty sure it's going to be a huge deal moving forward. Especially now that next-generation gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5 are pushing high-speed SSDs, we expect there to be a ton of SSDs leveraging this technology in the coming years.
While it's true that the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X isn't exactly supposed to be the bleeding-edge, it's still good that Team Red is opening up compatibility with this tech to a budget audience. It allows folks to buy this cheap processor, while still leaving themselves open to the latest and greatest storage and graphics technology.
Props to AMD here, but only to a point. It could definitely be argued that Team Red should have released these chips a year ago, when it released the rest of the Ryzen 3000 lineup, rather than leaving the budget segment of its audience waiting for so long.
Still, it's here now, so if you were wanting to upgrade to a Zen 2 Ryzen 3 chip, the option is now available to you – and the performance may have been worth the wait.
This is the system we used to test desktop CPU performance:
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid 360P Silver Edition
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB @ 3,000MHz
Motherboard: MSI MEG Z390 ACE
SSD: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro @ 1TB
Power Supply: Phanteks RevoltX 1200
Case: Praxis Wetbench
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid 360P Silver Edition Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB @ 3,000MHz Motherboard: X570 Aorus Master
SSD: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro @ 1TB
Power Supply: Phanteks RevoltX 1200
Case: Praxis Wetbench
If you're looking to build an affordable gaming PC and you only have like a hundred bucks or quid for your processor, the Ryzen 3 3300X is an absolute heavy-hitter. In all of our testing, this little chunk of silicon punches way above its weight class, and it could end up being the best value gaming CPU out there right now.
For instance, in Metro Exodus at 1080p, the Ryzen 3 3300X reaches 96 fps, which is only 6% slower than the Intel Core i5-9600K's 102 fps. The performance delta is the same in Total War: Three Kingdoms, which is a game that's heavily optimized for Intel.
Even in 3DMark Time Spy, the Ryzen 3 3300X is just 14% behind the Core i5-9600K with two less physical cores and a lower clock speed. And, again, a price tag that's a whopping 40% lower.
Things look even better for AMD when we look at multi-core performance, where AMD has been basically unstoppable for the last couple of years. In Cinebench R20, the Ryzen 3 3300X scores 2,583 points compared to the 9600K's 2,507. That's within margin of error, but the fact that a quad-core processor can topple a hexa-core, even with SMT enabled, is impressive.
Compared to the 3100, though, things are a little complicated. AMD is asking for 20% more for this processor, but you're not necessarily getting a straight 20% increase in performance.
In heavily threaded workloads like Handbrake and the Sandra CPU Arithmetic test, you're getting about 10% more performance. That's definitely a noticeable bump, but if 20 bucks or quid is a lot of money to you, the difference may not be worth the extra investment.
Things do look a little better when we get to games, as the 3300X is 15% and 20% faster in Metro Exodus and Total War: Three Kingdoms, respectively. But with only a 10% difference in Time Spy, that gap in performance may wane as time moves on.
That's really just nitpicking, however, and it means that both the 3100 and 3300X provide excellent value for the money, even if the Ryzen 3 3100 is still a bit of a better value.
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X provides some excellent value at a price point that's too often ignored in the hardcore computing scene. It provides performance that just a few short years ago would be considered top-end on a mainstream platform.
If your budget only allows for something like the RTX 2060 or Radeon RX 5600 XT in the first place, the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X is going to be the processor to beat. You're not going to be getting the best performance currently available, sure, but with a price tag at just $120 (about £100, AU$190) who freaking cares?
Processors like the Ryzen 9 3900X and the Intel Core i9-9900K provide amazing performance for people that can really afford it, sure – but releases like this are what really push gaming PCs forward, bringing down the barrier to entry on heavy multi-threaded performance. And that's probably one of the most exciting things in to happen in the CPU world this year.
Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.