Ryzen APU review: Ryzen plus Vega saves budget gamers during a GPU drought

Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G just stepped in to give budget gamers a worthy alternative.

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Ryzen APU performance in Rainbow Six Siege

Now let’s see how the Ryzen APU handles real games. Our first test is the circa-2015 Tom Clancy Rainbow Six Siege. We tested it at multiple resolutions and game quality settings, but they’re pretty much all impressive. We see the Ryzen APUs actually pulling dead-even with Radeon RX 550—and then surpass it when paired with higher-clocked RAM.

The Ryzen APUs almost have enough grit to handle Rainbow Six Siege at 1920x1080. The Ryzen 5 2400G pushes 51fps, and the Ryzen 3 2200G, 40fps.

The Intel HD630 graphics? Let’s just stop talking about it, okay? At a certain point, it just becomes cruel and inhumane.

ryzen apu rainbow six 12x7 ultra IDG

It’s not a mistake: We saw higher performance out of integrated graphics than a GPU.

Ryzen APU performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Even though it was also released in 2015, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a far harsher graphics load. Rainbow Six Siege is playable at 1920x1080. RoTR isn’t.

Overall, we saw decent performance from the APUs, especially when paired with faster system RAM, but they’re still really “only” 720p-medium-capable. At the same time, even the Radeon RX 550 was only 5fps faster than the Ryzen 5 2400G.

The takeaway here is that if you’re expecting to get away with 1920x1080 gaming all the time, you’re going to be disappointed in some heavier titles.

ryzen apu rise of the tomb raider 12x7 aa off dx11 medium IDG

It may be from 2015, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is a lot for budget parts to chew on.

Can the Ryzen APU run Crysis? 

By now, you probably want to make a wisecrack: “Can it run Crysis?”

This statement refers to how the 2007-vintage game brought even the most powerful and expensive gaming rigs to their knees, begging for mercy. More than a decade later it still represents the most ultimate bad-ass game ever (at least until everyone learns to whine that whatever game they didn’t like was “poorly optimized.”)

Well, guess what? The new Ryzen APUs can run Crysis. Using the ancient single-player demo, we ran the island GPU demo file and recorded the average fps of each completion (it doesn’t seem to want to cough up a final score anymore).

To give you a feel for how far we’ve come, we also dug up a performance report that Ryan Shrout at PCPer.com recorded in 2007 running the Crysis demo on a GeForce GTX 8800 GTX. Shrout’s score was generated at a slightly higher resolution of 1650x1200, but it’s clear the the Ryzen APU is faster in Crysis.

Granted, there is a world of difference in operating system, drivers, and hardware, but the top-of-the-line $650 GPU was simply hobbled by Crysis. Even worse? That Intel HD 630 really isn’t that far behind the GeForce 8800 GTX. IGPs have come a long way.

ryzen apu crysis 16x10 very high IDG

Yes, it can run Crysis. In fact, it can run it better than a $650 GeForce 8800 GTX card too. Of course, that card is over a decade old, but Ryzen is integrated graphics.

How much does memory matter to a Ryzen APU? 

If you’ve been paying close attention to our graphics results, you’ve noticed that faster RAM helps. A lot. Unlike a GPU that has its own pool of very fast RAM nearby, the IGP uses the RAM in the PC itself. To see how much of an impact various clock speeds of RAM matter with the Ryzen APU, we recorded performance gains from 2,133MHz to 3,200MHz RAM on the Ryzen 3 2200G. We also recorded how much of a hit you take by running single-channel mode vs. dual-channel.

We used 3DMark’s Fire Strike Graphics test, which is isolated to graphics performance.

ryzen apu memory matters IDG

Memory matters with any IGP and especially with Ryzen APUs.

The results show how every notch up in memory speed takes you up in performance. Going from DDR4/2400 to DDR4/3200 nets you about 9.5 percent more performance. Is it worth it? That very much depends on how much you’re paying for the higher-speed RAM.

On the day we wrote this, we could find 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4/2133 for $102. The cost for 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4/3200 ran $115. That means you’d be paying about 13 percent more for RAM for about a 9.5-percent increase in performance. We’d probably say it’s worth it, especially if you can get the price a little closer. The same day, we also found the same DDR4/3200 modules on sale for $109, which meant paying about 6 percent more for about 9.5 percent more performance.

One thing we can certainly say is, don’t cheap out and buy a single module. As you can see from our results, doing so would kneecap your graphics performance.

ryzen apu many igps IDG

Proof: AMD’s new Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 with Vega graphics are simply the fastest graphics ever introduced in a socketed processor.

Conclusion

We’ve tested plenty of CPUs with integrated graphics, but with all of them, we’ve had to issue more disclaimers than a pharmaceutical ad. AMD’s new Ryzen APUs are simply the first processors with graphics to get everything right. 

With the new Ryzen APUs and their Vega cores you’re finally getting decent graphics performance with top-shelf x86 cores at a price that isn’t a punch line. Frankly, it’s amazing timing for AMD to come out with a chip that can help quench budget gamers’ thirst when there’s a drought of GPUs.

We’ve read comments that people think the Ryzen APUs will “save PC gaming.” While we think that’s going too far, we have to admit, at least there’s finally a decent option for budget gamers.

ryzen 3 2200g 5 Gordon Mah Ung

This story, "Ryzen APU review: Ryzen plus Vega saves budget gamers during a GPU drought" was originally published by PCWorld.

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