AMD’s Ryzen boost clocks are a problem, but not for you
If you have a shiny Ryzen 3000-series CPU, you probably aren’t getting everything AMD promised you. Over the last week, hardware enthusiasts have found that the Zen 2 chips aren’t hitting their advertised boost clocks. And AMD has confirmed that.
Earlier this week, professional hardware overclocker Der8auer released a video breaking down the results of a crowd-sourced survey of Ryzen 3000-series CPU owners. In that survey, he found that the situation is more grim than many people previously anticipated.
AMD claims that the Ryzen 9 3900X, for example, boosts up to 4.6GHz, but fewer than 5% are actually hitting that threshold. At least, that’s the case in De8auer’s survey.
Here’s everything that De8auer found:
- 94.4% of 3900X CPUs don’t hit boost clock.
- 73.3% of 3800X CPUs don’t hit boost clock.
- 85.3% of 3700X CPUs don’t hit boost clock.
- 90.6% of 3600X CPUs don’t hit boost clock.
- 50.2% of 3600 CPUs don’t hit boost clock.
That’s … rough.
AMD responds to the Ryzen boost clock problem
But the good news is that AMD is claiming this whole thing is just a bug. Here’s the company’s statement from Twitter:
“AMD is pleased with the strong momentum of 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors in the PC enthusiast and gaming communities. We closely monitor community feedback on our products and understand that some 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen users are reporting boost clock speeds below the expected processors boost frequency.”
“While processor boost frequency is dependent on many variable including workload, system design, and cooling solution, we have closely reviewed the feedback from our customers and have identified an issue in our firmware that reduces boost frequency in some situations. We are in the process of preparing a BIOS update for our motherboard partners that addresses that issue and includes additional boost performance optimizations. We will provide an update on September 10 to the community regarding the availability of the BIOS.”
So in a week, AMD is going to have something to say about all of this. And the update will either fix the problem or not. But either way, I don’t think this is something that you really need to worry about.
Ryzen’s boost clock problem matters but mostly to AMD and lawyers
AMD’s promise to fix the boost-clock bug is important, but what if it doesn’t work? What if in a couple of months we are still seeing the same problems with no end in sight?
Well, I have an idea about what to do: nothing.
Don’t get me wrong. False advertising stinks, but so does all marketing. And at the end of the day, all of the back-of-the-box bullet points in the world aren’t going to change how it feels to own and use a product.
This goes back to something that I talk about a lot in my hardware reviews: The reasons we want something are different than the reasons we end up happy to own something. And that perspective is something the PC-hardware enthusiast space is sorely missing.
Boost clocks are real, and they have a tangible effect on the performance of a CPU. But there’s a reason it took us almost two months to notice that most of these chips aren’t performing the way they are supposed to. In real day-to-day use, the Ryzen 3600, 3700X, and the rest are all really excellent and generally out-perform their Intel counterparts.
For most of us, AMD’s boost-clock fix is not going to change how awesome it feels to get a fast, six-core CPU for $200.
Also, it’s easy for me to say this because our system guarantees some lawyer somewhere is prepping a class-action lawsuit. And you should get in on that. But don’t fret about this beyond that. Your Ryzen 3000-series rig is just as great as you thought it was.