AMD Ryzen 3 1200
Ryzen goes even lower-priced with an exceptional-value entry-level option.
While Intel may continue to dominate when it comes to instructions-per-cycle CPU performance efficiency, there’s no denying that AMD’s now the go-to when it comes to multi-threading — and with the Ryzen 3 1200, that’s now clear from the bottom of the CPU market right through to the top. This new entry-level chip also nicely highlights the overall value engrained in the AMD AM4 platform, even at this lower-tier in the CPU market.
We tested the new 1200 using our standard AM4 testbed, based around ASUS’s RoG Crosshair VI Hero, which packs an AM4 X370 chipset. While that is a compatible setup, it’s the concept of pairing the Ryzen 3 1200 with a cheaper B350 based AM4 motherboard that really appeals. (The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3, MSI B350 Tomahawk or ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4 are all B350 based motherboards that have been awarded APC Recommends awards.) With the ability to overclock the CPU and RAM on these platforms, there’s a significant value offering that, on the Intel side of the fence, would require higher expenditure to get the equivalent configuration versatility.
Driving that point home further, to build a similarly overclockable platform from Intel, you’ll be paying a $100 premium to get an entry-level Z270 motherboard paired with a Core i3-7350K. Admittedly, we’re still big fans of the Intel setup as it significantly lowers the cost of entry for an overclockable Intel platform, and with the right cooling it can reach impressive clock speeds. However, the arrival of the Ryzen 3 1200 has severely dampened the hype on the Core i3-7350K, even on its locked, non-overclockable brethren, the Core i3-7100 and i3-7300. Moreover, many entry-level Z270 motherboards are not appropriately specced for heavy overclocking, with lower phase-count VRM solutions, whereas we’ve proven in the APC labs that the AMD B350 solutions are primed and ready to handle even the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1800X, making the Ryzen 3 1200 an easy chip to drive above its stock spec.
Let’s take a closer look at the performance details. The Ryzen 3 1200 features stock frequencies of 3.1GHz base clock and 3.4GHz boost clock across four cores with four threads. This delivers reasonable performance in single-threaded workloads near Intel’s alternatives, alongside particularly strong multi-threaded performance. But it’s exploring the frequency boundaries that rewards significant performance gain. In testing we could easily push the CPU to 3.7GHz across all four cores. Beyond this point, there appeared to be an architectural or platform hard limit, as even setting a 37.25x multiplier for a frequency of 3.725GHz forced a hard-default outcome of 1.5GHz operational frequency. It’s disappointing that the little chip couldn’t go further, but even at 3.7GHz the performance gains were significant, demonstrating up to an additional 17% in benchmarks.
The Ryzen 3 1200 has proven to be the little chip that can. With the initial AM4 platform teething resolved and a price of $330 for an overclockable CPU and motherboard combo, this is an exceptional-value offering for those who need multi-threading on a budget.