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Ryzen 3 3100/3300X: performance analysis

Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Battlefield 5, Far Cry 5

We're sticking with the same collection of games we've used for our previous Ryzen third-gen and Intel ninth-gen processor reviews, which we believe offers a good blend of game engines of various vintages. The idea here is to include games that really stretch gaming CPUs in different ways, from those that take full advantage of extra cores to those that are limited by the speed of the fastest core in the system.

As well as selecting games that do actually stress CPUs, we've also taken pains to select scenes that show the game at its most challenging - circumstances where you'll notice frame drops on lesser CPUs, even when paired with the best available graphics card. We've included some built-in benchmarks where appropriate, but most of our tests are taken from in-engine cutscenes and live gameplay where you're most likely to notice any stutters or variability in performance.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

We begin with the most recent Assassin's Creed title, the Greek epic Odyssey. The scale and detail of this game at ultra-high settings make it particularly hard on lesser CPUs, which can exhibit momentary dips into the 30s and 40s - even with the powerful RTX 2080 Ti running the game at 1080p. If you experience similar issues, we'd recommend using a frame-rate limiter like RTSS or running the game with lower quality settings - a consistent 60fps is much better than a game that runs at 90fps but stutters. Thankfully, the built-in benchmark is a good one, so dialling in the perfect settings is at least a straightforward process.

So - how do these new chips perform? Well, the average frame-rates here are excellent, with around 74fps for the 3100 and 77fps for the 3300X. That's within the same ballpark as all of the other third-gen Ryzen CPUs we've tested, and a little bit faster than the last-gen Ryzen 5 2600. That's an outstanding result for these circa-$100 processors - but it is a little misleading.

You can see what we mean by taking a look at the lowest one per cent frame-rates, which represent the worst frame-rates we recorded during the benchmark. Both Ryzen 3 processors recorded a lowest one per cent score below 30fps; by comparison the other CPUs we tested dropped down to only around 40fps at worst. That shows that these CPUs are struggling during certain sections of the bench, especially the beginning where data is being streamed to the graphics card. Again, performance is very similar to the other cards in our bench most of the time, but you are likely to notice these frame-time spikes, especially in gameplay.

Taking a brief glance at Intel's line-up, and you can see performance is both better and much more consistent - as indicated by the much more narrow bars in our graph. Here, we're looking at average frame-rates in the low to high 80s, with a lowest one per cent figure of about 60fps on the Core i5 9600K.

The main takeaway here? Average frame-rates can be deceiving, and by opting for a higher-tier processor you're able to get a more consistent experience - and for this game at least, Intel remains the performance champ.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey: Ultra High, TAA

Battlefield 5

Next up is Battlefield 5, specifically its "Tirailleur" campaign. We originally chose this scene to test RTX performance, given the large number of puddles and other reflective surfaces it features, but it also proves a worthy test of CPU horsepower with RTX disabled. To recreate this test for yourself, simply hold forward when leaving the M3 Half-track at the end of the in-engine cutscene, and try not to wince in the face of incoming gunfire, Panzerschrecks and tree trunks.

The 3100 and 3300X perform much better here, with the Ryzen 3100 averaging 133fps at 1080p and the Ryzen 3300X delivering a massive 152fps - almost a 15 per cent difference. That's more than you'd expect from a simple frequency bump, but there is another change under the hood that might explain it.

The 3100's four cores are split between two core complexes (CCXs), each with their own 8MB L3 caches, while the 3300X's four cores are all in the same core complex with a single 16MB L3 cache; the other core complex on the die is completely deactivated. The 3100 is therefore said to have a 2+2 configuration, while the 3300X uses a 4+0 design. The advantage to the 4+0 design is that every core has access to the same cache, so communication between cores is rapid. In contrast, the 2+2 configuration sometimes requires data to be copied from one complex to another, which slows down processing by a small but appreciable amount.

Regardless of configuration, both new Ryzen CPUs outperfom the Ryzen 5 2600, with the 3100 leading by five per cent and the 3300X achieving a 20 per cent advantage. The 3300X is also competitive with the other third-gen Ryzen processors we've tested, but it falls behind the Core i5 9600K with a more expected 10 per cent. The gap narrows as resolution increases and the graphics card increasingly becomes the bottleneck in our test system, with a five per cent gap between 3100 and 3300X at 1440p and even results at 4K.

Battlefield 5: Ultra, RTX off

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 holds the dubious honour of being the game most dependent on single-threaded performance amongst our test suite, although it gains some points back for its relaxing (and easily accessible) built-in benchmark set on a surprisingly violent Montana lakefront.

We'd expect the 3300X to perform well here, if we think back to its single-threaded Cinebench results, and indeed it achieves the highest average frame-rate we've recorded amongst all Ryzen CPUs: 127fps. The lead isn't massive - within the margin of error - but it's still an impressive result that speaks to the level of horsepower you can get for $120 these days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Intel's IPC advantage manifests in even stronger frame-rates in Far Cry 5, with the Core i5 9600K managing 146fps and the Core i9 9900K achieving 156fps.

In our Ryzen 3 processor face-off, the 3300X again leads the 3100 by around 15 per cent, a margin that shrinks to 11 per cent at 1440p and disappears completely at 4K. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 2600 ties the 3100 exactly - suggesting the Ryzen 1600 AF, a rebadged 2600 with a normal RRP of $85, may be an even better value option.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

AMD Ryzen 3 3100/3300X analysis

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Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.


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