Overclocking The AMD Ryzen APUs: Guide and Results

With AMD’s new launch of Raven Ridge APUs, the Ryzen 3 2200G ($99) and Ryzen 5 2400G ($169), AMD holds the current integrated graphics apex when directly compared against Intel’s current SKU list. One of the most intriguing aspects of AMDs new Ryzen 2000 series desktop APU solutions is the fact that they are unlocked, offering a potential performance boost to both the core, the graphics, and the memory. In this article, we examine overclocking both our launch CPUs, a pair of retail CPUs, as well as going through each of the methods to overclock from each motherboard vendor.

The basic reasoning behind CPU overclocking is to increase the clock frequency of the processor from the manufacturers default speeds with the aim to increase the compute performance of your system. This can have a couple of advantages, including decreasing video rendering time and improving gaming performance in titles that rely on raw CPU horsepower to drive up the frame rates.

With APU overclocking, the added element of overclocking is in the integrated graphics, and there is also focus on the DRAM. For a Ryzen APU, overclocking the Vega graphics cores could really benefit a user struggling to make steady frame rates in certain titles and thus could potentially make the new budget focused AMD Ryzen 2000 series APUs an even better option than previously thought. The integrated graphics inside a CPU are often crying out for more memory bandwidth – compared to high-end discrete graphics, that have north of 200 GB/s of bandwidth, an APU sometimes has to deal with 12.5 GB/s (in a badly configured system) up to around 50 GB/s (dual-channel and overclocked) – so driving up the DRAM speeds and decreasing latencies has obvious knock on effects for the gaming experience.

Overclocking Used To Mean A Lot More
Back in the annals of history, where single and dual core systems ruled the desktop, overclocking had major performance advantages. When all the commands from the desktop have to be funneled through a single core, increasing that core had a direct impact on performance: 30% boost gave +30% performance – it was all direct an proportional. When desktops migrated to dual core, some of the extra could be offloaded onto that second core, but there was still competition for resources. In this era, especially with chips like the Core 2 Duo E2160, overclocks of +100% on a daily system were not impossible. When throughput is limited by the core, overclocking has an impressive result, and at this time the core frequency also had to match.

Today, overclocking does not have the same amount of excitement: extra work is offloaded, and more content is multi-threaded. In order to get that same performance boost gain, the workload has to be embarassingly parallel, such as ray tracing or specific video codec transcoding. The days of +100% overclocks are gone as well, with most high-end processors only offering +20% at most.

But the issue here isn’t really that: a decade ago, it was possible to overclock a $200 processor and make it perform like one that sold for $999. Anyone with a Core i7-920, pushing that 2.6 GHz processor to 4.0+ GHz to act like a Core i7-970, knows what this is all about. As we’ve seen with the Core i3-7350K review or the Pentium G3258 review, even with a chip that can overclock, there is one thing you cannot get: more cores. If a four-core processor gives you raw performance, no matter how much that dual-core is overclocked (in a 24/7 system), it has trouble meeting the quad-core in those pure throughput tests.

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