ProsThe latest AMD APUs offer a good blend of CPU and GPU performance, along with impressive efficiency; Intel has nothing that can compete
ConsAMD's Zen 2-based CPUs and older Zen-based APUs offer far more performance per dollar; onboard graphics is still not adequate for gaming
For these benchmarks, we set aside our Ryzen 5 3600, 3600X, and Ryzen 7 2700X, as these CPUs have no built-in graphics. Instead, we'll focus on how the Ryzen APUs do versus Intel's 6700K and 9900K processors, which use what Intel refers to as UHD 530 Graphics and 630 Graphics, respectively. They are essentially exactly the same thing, just ported over from 2015 to 2019. We also have some Athlon data in a few of the benchmarks, which use "Vega 3" graphics, which is quite literally 3/8ths of the Vega 8 Graphics in the 3200G, and 3/11ths of the Vega 11 graphics in the 3400G.
3DMark Fire Strike Graphics
Oh, how the tables have turned. With AMD's $60 Athlons nearly matching the GPU power of the $500 Core i9-9900K, you have to wonder why Intel even bothers. And in fact, some folks at Intel probably started wondering the same thing, which is why the company now sells the GPU-less Core i9-9900KF. For office PCs, the onboard Intel graphics are fine, but for gaming, they're useless. We start with the Graphics portion of the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark that we introduced on the previous page.
Of course, that also means that the Athlons aren't particularly good, but at least they don't cost all that much. Luckily, you get a whole lot more gaming performance for your dollar with the 3200G (it's 2.4x faster), while the Ryzen 5 3400G is 2.4 faster. But how does that translate to actual games? Well, we have a couple benchmarks to show you on that too...
Rocket League is a popular eSports title, in part because it is so incredibly accessible. Able to hit 60fps on low settings with the 6700K, it's truly playable on any modern CPU with built-in graphics. In fact, we'd bet that the developers of Rocket League actually designed the game's low quality settings to directly target the 60fps threshold on Intel CPUs. Of note, the 9900K is quite a bit faster here, which is a bit surprising given the nearly identical GPU onboard. Both systems used Corsair 16GB of DDR4-3000 RAM, so that isn't the difference (note that onboard graphics always rely on system RAM for video memory, so this is indeed relevant). Perhaps having twice as many CPU cores just allow the GPU to have easier access to data when it's ready to process frames. Whatever the case may be, both Intel processors fall to AMD's lowly Athlons, which are simply superior here. Sadly, the Ryzen APUs don't maintain their 2-3x performance delta, only hitting around 150fps in this title. We were particularly disappointed in the 3400G, which seems to be running out of something, potentially memory bandwidth. Recall that both of these systems used fast DDR4-3400 RAM, but that may become a limiting factor at high framerates.
One thing we should note is that Rocket League looks terrible at low quality settings, so anyone with a Ryzen APU will likely want to sacrifice a few frame per second to take advantage of the power of the onboard Vega graphics. In other words, don't play at low quality settings unless you absolutely have to!
So this one is a bit of a challenge for all of our processors, and we dropped the Athlons, because there just isn't much point gaming on them. DOOM uses a miraculously efficient game engine, and actually maintains some vestige of image quality even at low settings. Both the 3200G and 3400G are relatively playable, making them infinitely better choices than anything Intel has to offer. Note that the 3400G is about 22% faster than the 3200G, which is a bit disappointing given that its Vega 11 graphics has about 40% more theoretical power than the Vega 8 chip when taking into consideration both cores and clockspeed.
Finally, we get to power use, which is actually a pretty important factor when building a small gaming system (or really any small system). And here we see that AMD's Zen+ architecture is every bit the equal of Intel Skylake architecture. Note how the 3400G essentially ties the 6700K in terms of power use. That's a major win for AMD, given how far behind it was for the longest time. One thing to note in this benchmark is that the motherboard makes a huge difference, so the Athlon processors and especially the 9900K, which were all tested on full-size ATX motherboards, had a disadvantage in this comparison.
One issue we have to mention is that the Ryzen 5 3400G, which is rated at 65W, is clearly exceeding its 65W TDP rating. We think it's essentially equivalent to the Core i7-6700K, which is rated by Intel at 91W. Alas, Intel has begun playing loose with the numbers as well, rating its 9900K at a ludicrous 95W, despite it being at least a 150W processor. Long story short, for PC builders looking to use ultra-compact cases with 100W to 150W-class power supplies, we'd be a bit wary of the 3400G as well as any of Intel's Core chips.
In the current budget CPU marketplace, AMD can't help but win against Intel, which has essentially stopped competing for customers under the $150 pricepoint. With that said, just beating Intel isn't good enough, and that's where we believe AMD could actually do better. In fact, as our benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X included in this review suggest, the answer is right in front of us: AMD should be using its more advanced Zen 2 architecture for its APUs, rather than the older Zen+ design. The fact that AMD's APUs were ever split off from the normal cadence of the Ryzen rollout is simply a mistake of history. The original 2200G and 2400G were released in February 2018, but used the architecture of the Ryzen 1000 series that debuted in March 2017. We believe the only reason this happened was that the Vega graphics chip wasn't ready for release in 2017. But AMD really had no excuse to then release the next iteration of its APUs nearly a year and a half later (in July 2019), with the already outdated Zen+ architecture that debuted in April 2018. Frankly, the 3200G and 3400G are what the original 2200G and 2400G should have been, and likely could have been had AMD just delayed the release of its APUs a few more months. Waiting until mid-2019 for this mild refresh seems to be asking too much of consumers and enthusiasts.
We believe the real winner in AMD's current lineup is the Ryzen 5 3600, and we'll be following up this review with a full review of that chip, as well as its cousin the 3600X. AMD's Zen 2-based CPUs were worth waiting for, which can't really be said of the 3200G and 3400G, which only match Intel's offerings from 2015. Given that they also require an expensive X570-based motherboard for out-of-the-box firmware support, they are basically non-starters in our book. With that said, between the two, we like the 3200G more, as its $100 pricepoint is quite attractive for a low-cost PC, and it offers nearly the same gaming performance as the much more expensive 3400G. We also found its included 56mm-tall Wraith Stealth cooler to be much quiter than the 3400G's 72mm-tall Wraith Spire, as well as far more likely to fit in compact system. Yes, the 3400G throws in SMT to increase its CPU performance, but if that's what you're after, pick up a Ryzen 5 2400G at a discount instead. In fact, at its current price of $120, it's a far better choice than either the 3200G or the 3400G, and as an added perk, it can boot up on less expensive B450-based motherboard (and comes with the quieter Wraith Stealth cooler too). Indeed, the 2400G ends up being the winner of this review, despite not even appearing in the benchmarks!
As always, to get our recommendations on the best PC builds at every price point, see our Do-It-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides!