Overall and Final Verdict
Well after a normal few day testing project turned into a few week-long disaster lol, I can finally sit down and reflect on my experience with AMD's new Raven Ridge APUs. First let me say that this might be the first time I’ve had to include a section talking about the issues I had, but at the end of the day (well more like the end of the week) it looks like the issues might be mostly localized to me and at most some weird driver compatibility issues between Nvidia and AMD. I don’t want to focus on those too much here because once I got them figured out most things ran really smoothly. More importantly, once I finished testing and really had a chance to check out the numbers. What AMD is doing here on the onboard graphics side of things is impressive. Onboard has for a while basically been relegated to being just enough to make you want to upgrade to some sort of dedicated video card and for most people, myself included I wouldn’t have it any other way. But there are a lot of situations where more power would be helpful in a package that can’t fit a video card. Not to mention the additional cost.
Both the Ryzen 5 2400G and the Ryzen3 2200G actually have enough gaming performance where you could build a rig without a dedicated GPU and be fine to play most games at medium settings and most of the “e-sports” titles like LoL, CS:GO, and DOTA 2 should run great. You would only need to upgrade later when you get the urge to get into new blockbuster titles or less optimized games (cough PUBG).
Now the 2200G and 2400G aren’t really high-end CPUs, they were designed to be mid-range so keep that in mind if you plan on upgrading later. The CPU performance is in line with where they are in the market, but it did become a bottleneck in a few of my tests. That said the performance, like any of the CPUs launched in the past year, is still a big improvement over what we were stuck with before Ryzen came in and rocked the market. These are both 4 core 8 thread CPUs where before at these prices you were getting scraps at best.
The onboard performance was the biggest difference between the two APUs. The 2400G has 11 Vega CUs compared to 8 on the 2200G so it did show a big difference in testing. It also had a little more clock speed on both the GPU and CPU as well. This translated to more heat as well though. So much so that our sample seemed to have throttling issues when using the stock cooler. I love that they included them, especially with the 2200G’s price point. But if you plan on pushing the 2400G you might need to look at an upgrade later.
Now the lower L3 cache on both of these do mean that if you plan on adding a dedicated GPU right away you would be better off going with a regular Ryzen CPU. But hey remember AM4 allows you to be able to upgrade all the way up to the higher end CPUs later if needed. Raven Ridge also has lower limits on PCI Lanes so you only get 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes so upgrading to a GPU is still possible but could be limiting later, especially if you are running a full ATX board that would basically have a useless slot because of it.
The other downside with these APUs was that they are dependent on high-speed memory. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been following Ryzen. The infinity fabric that ties everything together is clocked with the memory, so faster memory is going to benefit you. Doing so will cost a little more as well, not enough to turn me away from either of them but it is something to keep in mind.
Speaking of pricing, the Ryzen 5 2400G has an MSRP of $169 right now and the Ryzen 3 2200G comes in just under $100 at $99. For starters, the 2200G is a steal! Think about how much more it would have cost you to build a 4 core 8 thread PC with at least some gaming competence a year ago. Pair that with a cheap motherboard and you are going to end up spending more on memory to get 16 gigs than you would the CPU and motherboard! Now the 2400G is a lot more expensive and the value does drop a little, but it was also noticeably faster in all of my tests so you do get something for that investment. I don’t know if it is worth $70 more, but it is still a good deal.
More importantly being able to get by with some basic gaming performance is a huge deal with now with GPUs being hard to find and expensive when you do. Because of that, I can see Raven Ridge being an interim solution for a lot of people trying to wait out the crazy prices. They both also look promising for budget builds and HTPC builds.
Live Pricing: HERE
Live Pricing: HERE