AMD Ryzen 9 3900XSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Best AMD CPUs Windows Central 2020

AMD processors are split into different families of stock-keeping units (SKU). Depending on your available budget and just how powerful you need your PC to be, it's possible to go with an affordable Ryzen 3 processor or an enthusiast Threadripper for maximum performance. This guide will walk you through our AMD PC CPU recommendations.

Best Overall: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Ryzen 5 3600XSource: Windows Central

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600X is a fantastic processor, aimed at gamers, creators, and even those looking for a solid mid-range CPU that won't destroy your budget. To make the value even more appealing, AMD bundles a decent stock cooler that can keep this processor at reasonable temperatures.

Amazing performance at a reasonable price.

There are six total physical cores on this 7nm CPU, with 12 threads available for demanding tasks. It's unlocked, allowing for some degree of overclocking (though you'll want to replace the stock cooler), and there's even support for PCIe 4.0. The latest generation of PCIe makes it possible to throw in a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD and enjoy even higher transfer rates.

The downsides to the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, like other 3000-series AMD processors, is the requirement for an X570 motherboard if you want to unlock PCIe 4.0. Not everyone has enough budget to spare for an expensive motherboard. There's also no integrated GPU, so you need to make sure you have a dedicated GPU card around to boot the PC.

Pros:

  • Six-core performance
  • Great value
  • Unlocked
  • Includes stock cooler
  • PCIe 4.0

Cons:

  • X570 board for PCIe 4.0
  • No GPU

Best Overall

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

The best all-round mid-range CPU

This may be a mid-range CPU from AMD, but there are six cores and 12 total threads available for some serious performance figures. Perfect for gaming or creative work.

Runner-up: AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

Ryzen 5 3400GSource: Windows Central

The Ryzen 5 3400G is part of the same family of AMD processors as the 3600 and 3600X, also featured in this collection. There's a good reason for this since while this processor may only be a quad-core, it houses a Radeon integrated GPU. Not only that, but AMD also bundles a good stock cooler for use out-the-box.

Like all other AMD CPUs, the Ryzen 5 3400G is unlocked and supports PCIe 4.0. The only drawback to this is you will need an X570 motherboard to enjoy the benefits. Still, the Ryzen 5 3400G is one of the best places to start with a gaming rig. You don't even need a dedicated GPU to enjoy some PC titles with friends, either.

Pros:

  • Four-core performance
  • Great value
  • Unlocked
  • Includes stock cooler
  • PCIe 4.0

Cons:

  • X570 board for PCIe 4.0

Runner-up

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

Best of both worlds

The Ryzen 5 3400G matches excellent mid-range 4-core performance with integrated Radeon graphics for a killer all-in-one solution.

Best Value: AMD Ryzen 5 3600

AMD Ryzen 3600xSource: Windows Central

AMD's Ryzen 5 3600X takes our top spot in this collection, but we have to give a shoutout to the Ryzen 5 3600 (non "X" variant), which also comes with six cores and 12 threads. The only significant difference between the two is the clock speeds with the more affordable Ryzen 5 3600 coming in a little lower at 3.6GHz (boost 4.2GHz) vs. 3.8GHz (boost 4.4GHz).

The X also comes with a better cooler. Still, it's a six-core processor with ample room for overclocking and will smash through the latest games and video editing software. Just make note that you will need a dedicated GPU like most other Ryzen CPUs on this list, and PCIe 4.0 is out of the question unless you spend more on an X570 motherboard.

Pros:

  • Six-core performance
  • Best value
  • Unlocked
  • Includes stock cooler
  • PCIe 4.0

Cons:

  • X570 board for PCIe 4.0
  • No GPU

Best Value

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Offering better value than the 3600X

If you're a little tighter on cash than what the 3600X costs, the 3600 may be just the processor for you. It's still a 6-core CPU with plenty of performance.

Best Budget: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

AMD Ryzen 3 3200GSource: AMD

For budget-focused PC builds or those wanting to use smaller, more compact cases, something like the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G would be a great option. Not only is it great for those just starting out in the PC building world, but it's also a quad-core processor, offering four physical cores for ample performance.

The highlight of the Ryzen 3 3200G is the integrated Radeon GPU, which negates the need for a dedicated GPU card. This makes the processor more suitable for Mini-ITX builds where chassis space may make installing a physical GPU a little tough. AMD even throws in a decent stock cooler in the price of the CPU, further sweetening the deal.

Just don't expect the GPU to work miracles in the latest high-end games.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Quad-core performance
  • Integrated Radeon graphics
  • Includes stock cooler
  • Great for a Mini-ITX build

Cons:

  • GPU performance is okay
  • X570 board for PCIe 4.0

Best Budget

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

The budget-friendly CPU with graphics

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G may be at the more affordable end of AMD's 3000-series processor range, but don't let that fool you into thinking it can't perform.

Best Gaming: AMD Ryzen 9 3990X

AMD Ryzen 9 3900XSource: AMD

Technically, a 12-0core CPU is a little overkill for gaming since most PC games won't make full use of all available cores. That said, I also include streaming into the gaming category and since many new streamers run both the game and stream on the same machine. Having this many cores and threads available for doing both simultaneously makes the 3900X a perfect CPU.

There's also the new PCIe 4.0 support added in this generation of Ryzen CPUs, and it's unlocked. Still, you will need amazing aftermarket cooling, and I'm talking about the absolute best air coolers or custom water loops. The bad side of this CPU reveals a lack of integrated GPU, and you need an X570 motherboard.

Pros:

  • 12-core performance
  • Good value
  • Unlocked
  • Includes stock cooler
  • PCIe 4.0

Cons:

  • No GPU
  • X570 board for PCIe 4.0

Best Gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Impressive 12-core performance

Whether you're into gaming and want to start streaming or need a processor with plenty of cores for work and play, this is one for you.

Best Enthusiast: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

AMD Threadripper 3990x WideSource: AMD

AMD wasn't happy with 32 cores and wanted to up the game a little by announcing the Threadripper 3990X. This monster of a CPU comes with 64 cores and a total of 128 threads. To put this into context, the Ryzen 9 3900X is considered a solid CPU with 12 cores and 24 threads.

The CPU itself can boost up to 4.3GHz, and you have 228MB of cache to play with. It's designed for creators, video editors, software engineers, and anyone who wants to utilize all cores for some serious computing. You likely won't ever need the Threadripper 3990X, but it's sure good to know it's there if you do.

It's not all good with the 3990X. Firstly, it's horrendously expensive. Second, it requires a TRx40 motherboard. No AM4+ here. There's also no GPU nor cooler, meaning you'll need to throw in some aftermarket components. It's fantastic for niche deployments, but you really should consider other options in this collection.

Pros:

  • 64-core performance
  • Ideal for enthusiast and workstations
  • PCIe 4.0
  • 228MB cache
  • 4.3GHz boost clock speed

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Requires TRx40 motherboard
  • No GPU
  • No cooler
  • Niche deployment

Best Enthusiast

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

The BIG one

Need performance? How do 64 cores and 128 threads sound? That's what is contained in this small CPU, allowing you to perform miracles.

Bottom line

Are you looking for the best overall AMD CPU? That's the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X. This six-core processor offers excellent value with plenty of performance for each buck spent. There's additional benefits like PCIe 4.0 support, an included stock cooler that isn't terrible, and it's unlocked for considerably overclocking capabilities.

If six cores just aren't enough, you could always go for my favorite AMD CPU as of right now, the Ryzen 9 3900X. Not only does this CPU offer double the cores and threads of the 3600X, but it's not massively more expensive. The 3900X is perfectly suited to gamers and streamers alike.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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