Review: Ryzen 3400G APU – is it a viable console alternative?
How does the Ryzen APU stack up to the Xbox One X?
It’s no secret that the silicon powering the current (and next-gen) Xbox and PlayStation consoles comes from AMD. The thing is, those chips are custom-built for the console and nothing else, allowing the console companies to squeeze every drop of power from them.
With that in mind, can we build a comparable PC for the same price as a current-gen console, also using AMD hardware, but with the Ryzen 34000G APU (a hybrid processor that contains both the CPU and GPU)?
First off, we’re going to use the Xbox One X (MSRP, not the current discounted price) for comparison purposes. That’s partly due to the unassailable price point that the Xbox One S currently commands, with either the Digital-only or Bluray drive equipped models dropping to $150 or so during sales like Black Friday. While I wish I could build a PC that cheap with similar performance, it just isn’t going to happen, especially with console hardware often sold at a loss to get people buying into the ecosystem.
We’ll be using the Ryzen 5 3400G APU as the core of the system. This chip uses four Ryzen cores with a base clock of 3.7GHz, and Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics cores clocked at 1.4 GHz. It’s also bundled with the Wraith Spire cooler, which was built to handle the 65W TDP of the chip. While the Xbox One X uses custom Polaris for the GPU, this desktop APU uses Vega cores, for “the most powerful graphics on a desktop CPU,” according to AMD.
As you can see, the total price is just a hair over that Xbox One X price, showing just how aggressively the console makers price to get consumers to buy-in. Note that peripherals aren’t included, so budget for a mouse and keyboard, and a controller if you want one. We’ll be using our TV as the monitor, just like the Xbox One X would.
Oh, and as a bonus? For buying the APU you’ll get three months of Xbox Game Pass for PC included. Speaking of Game Pass, that’s where most of the games we’ll be looking at were picked from as well.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 3400G 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Processor||$134.99 @ Walmart|
|Motherboard||ASRock B450M/AC Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard||$88.98 @ Newegg|
|Memory||G.Skill 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2133 Memory||$50.99 @ Newegg|
|Storage||Hitachi Ultrastar 1 TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$31.00 @ Amazon|
|Case||\*Apex TX-606-U3 MicroATX Mid Tower Case w/300 W Power Supply||$49.99 @ Amazon|
|Optical Drive||LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer||$49.88 @ Other World Computing|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit||$99.99 @ Amazon|
|Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts|
|*Lowest price parts chosen from parametric criteria|
|Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-12-30 12:22 EST-0500|
Yes, we could have gone with a cheaper A320 motherboard, but then we’d have to buy a WiFi card to match the feature set on the Xbox One X, making the total cost about the same.
I don’t have a Xbox One X (or the necessary tools to test performance) so we’ll be using performance stats from Digital Foundry wherever possible for comparison.
The Xbox One X uses dynamic resolution in play, changing from 1920×1080 (1080P) at the lowest point to 3200×1800 at the top, with temporal reconstruction upping the pixel count to 3840×2160 (4K). I’ll be testing the Ryzen 3400G at both of those resolutions and comparing them to the Xbox One X results.
The latest in the Gears of War franchise might have dropped the “War” branding but didn’t lose an iota of the rich visuals the series is known for. The Xbox One X hits a fairly consistent 60fps using its dynamic resolution, with a 30fps lock in the cutscenes which are at 4K native.
The 3400G posts up with a 55 FPS average at 1080P, showing both the power of this little chip but also the fantastic job the Gears developer did with optimizations.
PUBG is still the granddaddy of Battle Royale games, but it needs a hefty system to run it. On Xbox One, it aims for a consistent 30FPS at 4K, which it has trouble to hit in certain conditions. The Xbox One X crawls to a 15FPS average during the parachuting phase, stabilizing slightly to 25FPS during the first couple of minutes of frenetic looting. Even at 1080p, it struggles to keep above the 30FPS target. Can the 3400G do any better, with such a punishing game?
Well, I played a couple of matched on medium settings and the 3400G powered through at 32 FPS average, with slowdowns to 17 FPS during matchmaking. I’d call that a winner, winner, chicken dinner, eh?
On Xbox One X, Digital Foundry found that for the most part, the super-powered mayhem stayed around the 30FPS target at 4K. Not bad at all, let’s see if the Ryzen 3400G can hit that lofty target.
Well, no 4K here for Crackdown 3 but a 59 FPS average during the opening stages of the game with everything set to medium at 1080P is a decent result. Shame the operators in the game aren’t that smooth…
Forza Horizon 4
The latest installment of the party on wheels hits 30FPS solid at 4K and 60FPS at 1080P in performance mode. Can the 3400G catch up or will it be left with its wheels spinning?
Well, the 3400G can match that 60FPS at 1080P, so it’s a photo finish at the end of the race here. Playground Games know their stuff when it comes to optimizing across the whole range of hardware, and it really shows. Top marks for the experience still feeling premium even on the lower-end optimizations
Dirt Rally 2.0
The Xbox One X’s dynamic resolution tricks come into play here again, with seamless transitioning between 1800P and 4K. Those tricks come up with magic, keeping the beautiful countryside rolling along at 60FPS at all times. Can the 3400G find some extra power in the tank?
Well, no dynamic resolution magic here, but the 3400G does an admirable 49 FPS average on the starting course in Argentina on medium settings. Not bad at all with one of the most GPU intensive games of recent years.
Console or PC?
Okay, so the skinny? As you can see, the frame rates are pretty comparable between the Xbox One X and the Ryzen 3400G powered PC. Here’s the thing: Frame rate counts are one thing, but it’s undeniable that you will get more utility out of a PC.
You can’t do word processing or image editing on a console, nor should you want to. Consoles are great for lowering the barrier into gaming, but if you want to do more, it’s time to pony up a little extra cash. The Ryzen 3400G is ideal for a first time PC. It’s got decent power, both on CPU and GPU sides, and best of all? It’s on the AM4 platform so you can upgrade your starter PC over time.
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Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.