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Best Value, Combo Comparisons and Ugh, Memory Pricing
Performance-wise the 2400G and 2200G are impressive. Both the CPU and GPU performance are exceptional at their respective price points. Additionally, the chips can be paired with existing B350 and X370 motherboards and they are excellent when it comes to performance-per-watt, particularly in 3D workloads.
The Ryzen 3 2200G is coming in at just $99 and the Ryzen 5 2400G is $169, and both appear to be a great value.
For comparison, the Pentium G4560 currently costs $80, can be installed on a $50 H110 motherboard and is complemented well by a GT 1030 for $90, so all up a $220 combo. The Ryzen 5 2400G offers a similar gaming experience and vastly superior productivity performance, but it costs just $20 more, so $240 with a B350 motherboard.
The 2200G on the other hand is slightly slower overall, but comes in around $50 cheaper at $170 including the motherboard, and it's also much better than the G4560 for productivity workloads.
For gamers on a tight budget, the Ryzen 3 2200G seems like the way to go, while the Ryzen 5 2400G makes more sense and should prove to be a far better investment over time.
The Core i3-8100 comparison is more difficult as we're stuck with Z370 boards that cost at least $110 right now, but I'm going to pretend that's not the case and you can get B360 boards for $70, and hopefully that reality isn't far away. Even so, with a $70 motherboard and the GT 1030 you're looking at a total bill of almost $300, which makes the 2400G a considerably better value as you essentially get the GPU for free.
So, this looks like a solid win for AMD across the board, though there is a slight hitch that needs to be addressed (memory pricing). Of course, memory prices are high across the board, but they are particularly high when looking at high-speed Ryzen-friendly RAM.
The DDR4-2400 16GB kit used for testing the Core i3-8100 for example costs $160 and this is for a pair of 8GB modules. That's mighty expensive by 2016's memory prices but today is the norm. The G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 16GB kit that AMD provided for testing and I also use in my own Ryzen test rig, costs $250. That means you're paying a little over 50% more for the Ryzen memory.
I'm yet to figure out what DDR4 memory will work at 2933 and faster with the Raven Ridge APUs, so it's possible there is a cheaper memory option but I can't confirm that at this point. That said, I should note that DDR4-3200 memory starts at $225 for 16GB kits so that's still a 40% price premium. This margin is at least halved with 8GB kits so that's something.
Right now it's DDR4 memory prices that are killing the value of these new AMD APUs. With a discrete graphics card memory speed matters very little. If you throw the G4560 on an unlocked Z270 motherboard and pair it with DDR4-4000 memory, at best you'll see a few extra frames with a GTX 1050, 1050 Ti or even 1060. So given current memory prices, you're possibly better off going with a discrete graphics card, which is a real shame.
One thing to remember when buying a Raven Ridge APU is that memory speed matters and you're going to want at least DDR4 memory capable of running at 2933 for them to really make sense. The Ryzen 3 2200G combo with 8GB of DDR4-3200 memory will cost $275 ($105 just for the memory). Still, as I said, 8GB of DDR4-2400 RAM isn't much cheaper as you'll be paying at least $85, so the total bill for the G4560 combo still comes to $305.
It also depends on what you want out of the system. If you want to build the smallest gaming PC possible then the Raven Ridge APUs offer something unique. But even if you build a Micro ATX or even a standard ATX case, the 2400G has legs and in the future when you can afford a GTX 1060 or RX 580, it'll be able to get the most out of those GPUs.
I still can't work out which APU I prefer, they're both so good in their own right. Initially I thought it would be all about the Ryzen 5 2400G, but I've shifted away from that thinking as I kept testing. I really like what the Ryzen 3 2200G has to offer budget gamers. This APU, motherboard and memory combo for well under $300 simply can't be beat and for that reason, it's likely going to be a hot item for gamers with limited funds.
It's worth noting that when we started testing these APUs a week ago the Vega drivers were quite buggy. AMD has since released an updated version that addressed stuttering issues we were seeing. The company also says further driver optimizations are coming and performance will get better. Given AMD's history, I believe that.
Pros: Exceptional CPU and GPU performance at their respective price points. GPU performance crushes Intel integrated graphics, around discrete GeForce GT 1030 levels. Included Wraith cooler. Great motherboard support, especially on a budget.
Cons: Current memory pricing messes with the total value offered by AMD's APU platform -- and memory speed matters in this case. Graphics drivers are a little immature (this could turn out to be a pro in a few weeks' time).