AMD Ryzen 5 2400G & Ryzen 3 2200G Review
It wasnít all that long ago that the term AMD-coined term of ďAPUĒ or Accelerated Processing Unit generated more eye rolls than excitement. Originally introduced with the Llano architecture and evolved through subsequent generations, the overlying goal behind these processors was to offer good x86 performance alongside class-leading graphics capabilities.
The idea is somewhat novel even today since by and large Intel competitors have failed to deliver on the graphics part of that equation. There have been some notable exceptions like processors equipped with Intelís Iris Pro like the rare and impressive i7-5775R but those have been exceptions rather than the rule.
With the success and real competitiveness of AMDís Zen microarchitecture, it was naturally time for them to take another kick at the APU can. But unlike the past when AMDís underlying x86 processor technology struggled to keep up with Intel, this time things will likely be different. Ryzen processors have proven to be Intelís match and the Vega graphics Ėthough somewhat limited in scope right now- is being drawn upon to provide a significant bump in GPU capabilities. The end result is what AMD calls Raven Ridge, a new generation of processors that may finally bring the dream of APU success to reality.
By this point Raven Ridge and the APUs within its stable shouldnít be news to you. Weíve actually covered them extensively through written content and numerous introductory videos. But letís go through a quick refresher since now that launch is upon us, some new information is available that will probably affect (both in a positive and negative way) the buying publicís perception.
Iím starting things off by stating the obvious: by their very nature, APUs arenít meant for nor targeted at enthusiasts or well-to-do gamers. Indeed, the two products being launched Ėthe $169 Ryzen 5 2400G and $99 Ryzen 3 2200G- are being parachuted into the lower end of AMDís current processor lineup. Theyíre meant primarily as solutions for All-In-One desktops and entry level towers where discrete GPUs are more of a luxury than a necessity. Meanwhile the low voltage mobile offshoots will definitely be compelling for system integratorsí notebook designs.
But that doesnít mean Raven Ridge doesnít provide a potential avenue for entry level users who may want to go through system building in several steps. Basically they can now buy an APU that has respectable integrated graphics capabilities and play a waiting game in the hope that discrete GPU prices will eventually return to normalcy. This could be a key differentiator for the 2400G and 2200G, not to mention their fully unlocked nature encourages overclocking.
Unlike past APU launches, Raven Ridge processors wonít be lumped into their own unique lineup. Instead, the 2400G and 2200G will be shoehorned into AMDís already-full Ryzen desktop segment sporting the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 monikers respectively. This end of the market was pretty cluttered with products but AMD is making a move to clear things up by pushing the Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 to End of Life status. Essentially, theyíll be replaced by the new APUs.
Personally, I think this is a good move since it wonít remove much in the way of choices and it adds some much-needed clarity to a somewhat confusing product stack. The 4-core, 8- thread Ryzen 5 1500X is still around at $174 while the Ryzen 3 1300X offers good value in the sub-$150 market. The only real sacrifice will be a lack of non-APU options in the $99 to $129 bracket but as youíll see below, that $99 2200G is a pretty tempting option for budget-minded buyers.
With that in mind, letís get into the specs of these two APUs. From a high level standpoint donít think their 2000-series nomenclature means the upcoming Zen+ or Zen 2 microarchitectures are being used. Rather, Raven Ridge still uses first generation Zen but with a few key differentiators, some of which target a lower cost while others focus on adding a bit more efficiency. Think of this as ďZen 1.25Ē.
First and foremost, performance was addressed by using an updated 14nm+ manufacturing process to boost achievable core frequencies. Cache and internal memory latencies were also reduced and a new CPU package has even allowed for higher achievable memory speeds with both APUs now officially supporting up to 2933MHz dual channel kits.
But going hand in hand with those improvements are decisions that lowered pricing and could also adversely affect performance. Instead of using a dual 2+2 CCX design for these quad core chips, AMD is using a simplified 4+0 layout. The performance impact of this move is supposedly negligible but eliminating one of the Compute Complexes means half the shared L3 cache goes up in smoke as well. The designís newly reduced latencies and higher core clocks should somewhat offset this loss.
Perhaps the biggest loss and something the APUs share in common with Zen-based Athlon processors is the lack of 16 dedicated graphics lanes for discrete cards. Once again this was done to save die space, simplify manufacturing and push towards a lower pricing structure. Now granted todayís mid-range GPUs really donít need a x16 link (in our testing even a GTX 1080 isnít bottlenecked by a PCIe 3.0 x8 interface) but to optics of it are quite poor.
It is also important to remember that like Athon processors and these new Raven Ridge APUs also share a common onboard I/O layout. That means the number of SATA and general purposed PCIe lanes has been reduced to two and four respectively in keeping with the mainstream market theyíre servicing. This isnít necessarily limiting either since the GP lanes could be directed to a single high speed NVMe SSD without sacrificing other storage or I/O capabilities.
Naturally these specifications make the 2400G and 2200G perfect companions for affordable B350 and A320 motherboards. X370 remains a possibility as well but I personally feel a lot of that platformís most notable features like dual x16 GPU slots and multiple PCIe M.2 slots and would simply go to waste if itís paired up with a Raven Ridge APU.
The final piece of the Raven Ridge APU puzzle is of course the Vega-based graphics processors that are integrated into their die package and communicate over AMDís Infinity Fabric interface. Code named Vega 11 and Vega 8 based on the number of Vega Compute Units which are enabled (in the same vein, Vega 64 and Vega 56 have 64 CUs and 56 CUs respectively), these are by far the fastest integrated GPUs that AMD has ever launched.
The Vega 11 has 704 Stream Processors, 16 ROPs and 44 Texture Units which puts it at about 1/5th as powerful as AMDís own Vega 56. Now that might not sound like much but in the onboard graphics world, those are impressive specs. Plus, given the architectural improvements of Vega over the R7 generation used in Bristol Ridge, the difference will be like night and day.
Meanwhile the Ryzen 3 2200Gís 8 CU layout leads to 512 SPs, 16 ROPs and 32 TMUs, a specification thatís identical to the previous generationís R7. However, the improved 14nm manufacturing process and all the enhancements baked into Vega lead to an almost 70% generational performance boost. One other thing to mention is that Raven Ridge APUs wonít have the Dual Graphics support of its forefathers since there just arenít any lower end Vega-based cards to pair up with.
With all of this being said, both the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G look like very, very promising CPUs even without their integrated Radeon graphics figured into the equation. Not only do they look like suitable replacements for the outgoing Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 but they could also prove to be quite timely for buyers who want an upgrade but canít stomach current discrete GPU prices.
But the question remains: with lower L3 cache and a truncated PCIe interface has AMD shaved off more than necessary in an effort to cut costs? Or, when compared to Intelís Coffee Lake architecture and the now seemingly overpriced $185 i5-8400 and its ilk, can Raven Ridge hold its own in key x86 performance areas? Letís find out.
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