AMD Ryzen 5800X Vs 3800X

We compare the new Zen 3 AMD Ryzen 5800X to the AMD Ryzen 3800X Zen 2 CPU to see which is better

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With the new Ryzen 5000 series of CPUs, AMD are challenging Intel for the coveted title of Best Gaming CPU. Their main heavyweight in this fight is the 5900X, however, for the majority of gamers, it is the lower price point CPUs that will be of more interest, such as the next most powerful entry in the series – the 5800X. The 3800X was the previous generation’s version of a CPU at this Ryzen 7 price point but didn’t manage to beat Intel’s i7-10700K in single thread Instructions Per Clock (IPC), resulting in lower FPS performance in gaming. Let’s dive in and see whether the new 5800X fulfils AMD’s lofty aspirations and whether or not it’s worth spending the extra money on it over the older and cheaper 3800X.

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AMD Ryzen 5800X vs 3800X – The Specifications

As the below shows, the basic specifications for the 5800X and the 3800X appear almost identical. The only difference, which may come as a surprise at first glance, is that the Zen 3 CPU actually has a 0.2Ghz lower Single-Core Boost Clock than its Zen 2 counterpart and a 0.1Ghz lower Base Clock, although the All Core Boost is 0.2Ghz higher. More on this below.

Zen 2 vs Zen 3 Architecture

“Zen” is the term used by AMD for the different generations of their CPU architecture since 2017. The older 3800X is based on Zen 2 architecture and the 5800X uses the new Zen 3. Although both the current and the previous generations are based on a 7nm process, AMD have refined the technology substantially for Zen 3, increasing both power efficiency and most importantly the IPC of the same size process. We can expect next year’s Zen 4 to have these same improvements carried over but on the smaller 5nm process. Generally speaking the smaller the process, the more transistors can be fit on, and the more powerful the chip.

The majority of the claimed performance increases in the new Zen 3 are due to changes AMD has made in the cache layout since the previous generation. Rather than two lots of 16MB L3 memory with four CPU cores between them, Zen 3 processors have all eight CPU cores accessing one large 32MB L3 memory cache. These changes mean any of the cores can now directly access information stored in the single large memory pool (which could, for example, relate to the physics of persistent objects within a game world), rather than the data having to transfer across the ‘Infinity fabric’ or be transferred via the cores if it was held in the other half of the cache. The 3900X still has the L3 cache separated into 2x16MB sections, with four assigned cores (eight threads) each whereas the 5800X has 1x32MB cache sections, with eight assigned cores (16 threads) – the same amount of cores and memory in total, just used more effectively. Overall this should mean a higher processing speed for Zen 3 and lower latency for games.

Workstation Performance

Unlike the $350 more expensive 5950X, which is targeted towards creatives and professionals who need a desktop PC that can perform workstation tasks, as well as game, the 5800X and its 3800X predecessor, are aimed purely at gamers. Nevertheless, you can still get some multi-core productivity out of both CPUs in these tasks. For gamers that don’t want to fork out for a dedicated workstation CPU but who dabble in a bit of video and audio editing, both the Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors perform better than the rival Intel CPU, the i9-10700K, thanks in part to their higher L3 memory cache. 

As the below shows, the Cinebench score for multicore performance for the new 5800X was 19% higher than the 3800X, and rendering times using the Corona benchmark were 20% faster for the new CPU. When comparing the 5800X vs the 3800X for workstation use then, the 5800X definitely comes out on top.

If you are looking to build a proper workstation machine of course, then we would recommend looking at the 16 core 5950X or alternatively, if you are constrained by a tight budget, consider a second-hand 3950X.

Gaming Performance

Whilst newer games are beginning to utilize multi-processing power, the main metric when it comes to gaming is still single-core performance. As we have seen the new 5800X actually has lower Single-Core speeds than the older 3800X, but clock speed is only part of the story when it comes to performance. The improvements in architecture from Zen 2 to Zen 3 mean the number of Instructions Per Clock (IPC) is still greater for the 5800X, so the overall number of instructions the CPU is capable of over any given time is higher, or so AMD claim.

In their original reveal presentation, AMD stated there was an overall uplift in performance for the new generation of approximately 19%. Let’s look at the below benchmarks to see if these claims are substantiated.

Workstation Performance

Unlike the $350 more expensive 5950X, which is targeted towards creatives and professionals who need a desktop PC that can perform workstation tasks, as well as game, the 5800X and its 3800X predecessor, are aimed purely at gamers. Nevertheless, you can still get some multi-core productivity out of both CPUs in these tasks. For gamers that don’t want to fork out for a dedicated workstation CPU but who dabble in a bit of video and audio editing, both the Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors perform better than the rival Intel CPU, the i9-10700K, thanks in part to their higher L3 memory cache. 

As the below shows, the Cinebench score for multicore performance for the new 5800X was 19% higher than the 3800X, and rendering times using the Corona benchmark were 20% faster for the new CPU. When comparing the 5800X vs the 3800X for workstation use then, the 5800X definitely comes out on top.

If you are looking to build a proper workstation machine of course, then we would recommend looking at the 16 core 5950X or alternatively, if you are constrained by a tight budget, consider a second-hand 3950X.

Unlike the $350 more expensive 5950X, which is targeted towards creatives and professionals who need a desktop PC that can perform workstation tasks, as well as game, the 5800X and its 3800X predecessor, are aimed purely at gamers. Nevertheless, you can still get some multi-core productivity out of both CPUs in these tasks. For gamers that don’t want to fork out for a dedicated workstation CPU but who dabble in a bit of video and audio editing, both the Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors perform better than the rival Intel CPU, the i9-10700K, thanks in part to their higher L3 memory cache. 

As the below shows, the Cinebench score for multicore performance for the new 5800X was 19% higher than the 3800X, and rendering times using the Corona benchmark were 20% faster for the new CPU. When comparing the 5800X vs the 3800X for workstation use then, the 5800X definitely comes out on top.

If you are looking to build a proper workstation machine of course, then we would recommend looking at the 16 core 5950X or alternatively, if you are constrained by a tight budget, consider a second-hand 3950X.

Whilst newer games are beginning to utilize multi-processing power, the main metric when it comes to gaming is still single-core performance. As we have seen the new 5800X actually has lower Single-Core speeds than the older 3800X, but clock speed is only part of the story when it comes to performance. The improvements in architecture from Zen 2 to Zen 3 mean the number of Instructions Per Clock (IPC) is still greater for the 5800X, so the overall number of instructions the CPU is capable of over any given time is higher, or so AMD claim.

In their original reveal presentation, AMD stated there was an overall uplift in performance for the new generation of approximately 19%. Let’s look at the below benchmarks to see if these claims are substantiated.

As is evident from the above FPS results, it seems like AMD’s claims were bang on the money, in fact, between the 3900XT and the 5900XT, on the games tested so far at least, the performance increase has if anything been understated. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider showed an average FPS increase of 27%, Microsoft Flight Simulator (a known CPU heavy game) an uplift of 25%, and CS:GO a fairly astounding 42%. Given the price difference between the two processors (assuming the 3900X remains at $399) of 12.5%, it seems to us like, pound for pound, the 5800X represents terrific value compared to the older processor. 

Bear in mind that the above does not even take into account the additional benefits of Smart Access Memory if you are planning on pairing the new processor with a 6000 series AMD GPU. More on this below.

AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs With Radeon 6000 GPUs – Smart Access Memory

The final thing to consider when comparing the Zen 2 and Zen 3 CPUs is whether or not you are intending to also purchase a new Radeon 6000 series graphics cards from AMD. As we explain here in greater depth, the Smart Access Memory feature allows 5000 series Ryzen CPUs to gain additional performance through more efficient usage of Radeon 6000 series GPU memory, ranging from between 2% – 13% additional FPS performance on the games AMD showed us. After the new AMD graphics cards are released then we will have a better idea of how accurate these claims are, though the red team’s other performance figures have so far held up in independent testing. 

Smart Access Memory essentially means additional free performance for the 5800X over the 3800X, so if you are thinking of buying a new AMD graphics card anyway, you’d be foolish not to go with the 5800X in this situation.

 

In every aspect of performance tested, the 5800X is the superior CPU to the 3800X. For $50 more, based on current prices at least, you get approximately 25%-30% uplift in gaming performance, sometimes more depending on the game (CS:GO being the standout example with 42% improvement), as well as large improvements in workstation usage.

Interestingly the improvements between these two CPUs were even more pronounced in these tests than between the Ryzen 9 5900X and its Zen 2 predecessor the Ryzen 9 3900X, meaning the uplift between the generations offers additional performance for your money compared to the more powerful chip. If you are buying new then the 5800X is the obvious choice vs the 3800X, and if you are buying a Radeon 6000 series graphics card as well then the decision becomes even more of a no-brainer. In this particular case, we cannot really see second-hand prices come down enough for the 3800X to make it sufficiently worth the saving, particularly when the greater futureproofing of the 5000 series for upcoming drivers is taken into account.

If you already own a 3800X then the question becomes is $449 worth an approximately 25%-30% uplift in FPS performance? Selling your current processor on the second-hand market could of course reduce the strain on your wallet, and if you’re buying a new Radeon 6000 series GPU then the promised Smart Access Memory performance the new cards offer should add further frames per dollar. 

All told, the 5800X is a considerably better CPU than its predecessor, and this is one of those times where buying the new generation is definitely worth the money.

In Summary

In every aspect of performance tested, the 5800X is the superior CPU to the 3800X. For $50 more, based on current prices at least, you get approximately 25%-30% uplift in gaming performance, sometimes more depending on the game (CS:GO being the standout example with 42% improvement), as well as large improvements in workstation usage.

Interestingly the improvements between these two CPUs were even more pronounced in these tests than between the Ryzen 9 5900X and its Zen 2 predecessor the Ryzen 9 3900X, meaning the uplift between the generations offers additional performance for your money compared to the more powerful chip. If you are buying new then the 5800X is the obvious choice vs the 3800X, and if you are buying a Radeon 6000 series graphics card as well then the decision becomes even more of a no-brainer. In this particular case, we cannot really see second-hand prices come down enough for the 3800X to make it sufficiently worth the saving, particularly when the greater futureproofing of the 5000 series for upcoming drivers is taken into account.

If you already own a 3800X then the question becomes is $449 worth an approximately 25%-30% uplift in FPS performance? Selling your current processor on the second-hand market could of course reduce the strain on your wallet, and if you’re buying a new Radeon 6000 series GPU then the promised Smart Access Memory performance the new cards offer should add further frames per dollar. 

All told, the 5800X is a considerably better CPU than its predecessor, and this is one of those times where buying the new generation is definitely worth the money.

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